Deed of Settlement initialled with Rongowhakaata in historic whare

  • Christopher Finlayson
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

The Crown today initialled a Deed of Settlement for all historical Treaty claims with Rongowhakaata, one of the three Turanga iwi, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson announced. Initialling signals the end of substantive negotiations.

The Deed was initialled in Te Hau ki Tūranga, which is currently held in Te Papa. Te Hau ki Tūranga is an elaborately carved Rongowhakaata whare whakairo which was built in the early 1840s, and effectively confiscated by the Crown in 1867. The settlement will vest Te Hau ki Tūranga in Rongowhakaata once legislation is passed to finalise the settlement.

“This settlement puts right a great wrong that has been done to Rongowhakaata, the creators and rightful owners of such a beautiful and important taonga,” Mr Finlayson said. “I am honoured to be able to play a part in its return.”

The Crown and Rongowhakaata have agreed that Te Hau ki Tūranga will be held and cared for to a standard that recognises Te Hau ki Tūranga as a taonga of cultural, historical and spiritual importance. Te Hau ki Tūranga will remain at Te Papa until 31 March 2017 or until Te Papa and Rongowhakaata agree.

The settlement includes an apology and acknowledgements specifically relating to Te Hau ki Tūranga, which the Minister conveyed at the deed initialling ceremony.

The settlement addresses all of Rongowhakaata’s historical claims, and the Crown will apologise for a number of other grievous Treaty breaches. These include the unjustified use of military force in Turanga , the detention without trial of Rongowhakaata prisoners on the Chatham Islands, the summary executions of prisoners at Ngatapa in 1869, and the effective confiscation of a large area of Rongowhakaata land. It includes financial redress of $22 million plus interest since 2008, and the return of several Crown-owned properties in the Gisborne region.

When the deed of settlement is ratified by the people of Rongowhakaata, the settlement will be signed and implemented through legislation.