NGATI MUTUNGA SIGNS HEADS OF AGREEMENT

  • Doug Graham
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Rt Hon Sir Douglas Graham, said today the signing of a Heads of Agreement between the Crown and Ngati Mutunga was another important step toward justice for Taranaki Maori.

"This iwi suffered great injustice last century and since. More than 27,000 hectares of their land was confiscated when they tried to hold on to what was rightfully theirs," he said.

Like other Taranaki iwi whose land was confiscated, the wrongs were perpetuated when some property eventually was returned, only to be subject to perpetual leases to European farmers, he said.

Sir Douglas acknowledged the quietly constructive approach to negotiations taken by the Ngati Mutunga representatives.

"The intention now is that the grievance should be resolved, so the iwi can take its rightful place as a significant player within the community."

However he also stressed that today's Heads of Agreement is a non-binding document and no settlement will be made final until every member of the iwi has had the opportunity to vote on it.

"It is also important for everyone to understand that, where Crown land is being returned to Ngati Mutunga, the public can be assured that issues of conservation will be recognised and public access will be preserved, except for approximately two hectares where, for special reasons, it will be for Ngati Mutunga to decide when and how public access will be permitted."