Te Hiku Forum iwi sign Agreement in Principle

  • Christopher Finlayson
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

The Crown and Te Hiku Forum, a group of Far North iwi, today signed an Agreement in Principle at Roma Marae by Ahipara towards settling historical Treaty of Waitangi claims in the area, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson announced. 

Te Hiku Forum represents Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngāi Takoto, Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kahu, which have around 40,000 members in total.

"This Agreement in Principle represents a breakthrough towards reaching a settlement after 23 years of hard work since claims were first lodged in the area," Mr Finlayson said. "The Agreement will also provide the basis for economic development for iwi and the region, and better conservation management of iconic sites."

The Agreement provides for commercial redress of $120 million between the five iwi. It includes the transfer of Aupouri Crown forest along with accumulated rentals, and the transfer of seven farms in the region from Landcorp and Crown agencies.

Te Hiku Forum chairman Haami Piripi said iwi were looking forward to managing iwi-owned forestry and farming, as well as investing in fishing, tourism, education and training on behalf of iwi, hapū and whanau members.

The Agreement also provides for a co-governance arrangement with the Crown over Ninety Mile Beach (Te Oneroa a Tohe) to protect and improve conservation values while retaining public access and recreation; acknowledgement of the iwi as kaitiaki (guardians) over Te Ara Wairua (the spiritual path), and the vesting of 75 hectares of land at Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua) as a historic reserve. The Agreement in Principle also provides for a social accord between the Crown and Te Hiku Forum to address and prioritise social issues.

Questions and Answers

1.    Is there any private land involved?


2.    Are the public's rights affected?

In general, all existing public access rights in relation to areas affected by this settlement will be preserved. However, the question of public access to Aupouri Forest will be for the new landowners to decide.

3.    What are the grievances of Te Hiku iwi?

They relate to the Crown's handling of pre-Treaty land transactions, nineteenth century land purchases by the Crown, the operation and impact of the native land laws, twentieth century land administration issues and the economic, social and cultural prejudice that resulted

4.    Are any place names changed?

The offer agrees to explore the possibility of place name changes in relation to Te Oneroa a Tohe / Ninety Mile Beach. Other place name changes are also being discussed with individual iwi and these may be reflected in particular Deeds of Settlement.

5.    What happens to memorials on private titles?

The legislative restrictions (memorials) placed on the title of Crown properties and some former Crown properties now in private ownership will be removed once all Treaty claims in the area have been settled.

6.    When will the settlement take effect?

Five individual Deeds of Settlement (one unique Deed per iwi), and a Te Hiku Deed of Settlement (covering the collective aspects of the settlement), will be drafted in 2010. If ratified, and settlement legislation is passed to implement them, the Deeds of Settlement will become unconditional and the terms of the settlements will take effect. The Deeds of Settlement could be signed in late 2010 or 2011.

7.    Do Te Hiku iwi have the right to come back and make further claims about the behaviour of the Crown in the 19th and 20th centuries?

No. If a Deed of Settlement is ratified and passed into law, both parties agree it will be a final and comprehensive settlement of all the historical (relating to events before 21 September 1992) Treaty of Waitangi claims of Te Hiku iwi. The settlement legislation, once passed, will prevent Te Hiku iwi from re-litigating the claim before the Waitangi Tribunal or the courts.

The settlement packages will still allow Te Hiku iwi to pursue claims against the Crown for acts or omissions after 21 September 1992, including claims based on the continued existence of aboriginal title or customary rights. The Crown also retains the right to dispute such claims or the existence of such title rights.

8.    Who benefits from the settlement?

All members of the Te Hiku iwi, wherever they may now live.

Summary of the agreement in principle between the Crown and Te Hiku Forum for the settlement of the historical claims of the five iwi of Te Hiku Forum (Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngāi Takoto, Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kahu)

Background to the Agreement in Principle

Treaty settlement negotiations between the Crown and Te Hiku iwi commenced around the time of the release of the Waitangi Tribunal's Muriwhenua Land Report in 1997. Throughout the 2000s negotiations were conducted largely on an individual iwi basis, and agreements in principle were signed with Te Aupouri (2004), Te Rarawa (2007) and Ngāti Kahu (2008).

In 2008 Te Hiku iwi decided that a collective approach to negotiations would make it easier to deal with the complexities presented by their overlapping areas of interest. Te Hiku iwi established Te Hui Topu o Te Hiku o Te Ika (Te Hiku Forum) in June 2008, with representatives from each of the five Te Hiku iwi (Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngāi Takoto, Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kahu), to address their shared interests in redress.

This agreement in principle outlines the shared redress to be provided in Te Hiku o Te Ika (i.e. redress which is not exclusive to one of the five Te Hiku iwi).

Summary of the Redress

Historical Account and Crown Apology

Historical accounts that describe the historical interaction between the Crown and each of the individual iwi of the Te Hiku Forum are being prepared. Each iwi will have a unique historical account which will be further developed between now and the signing of the Deeds of Settlement of individual Te Hiku iwi.

On the basis of these historical accounts, the Crown will acknowledge that certain of its actions or omissions were in breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles. The Crown will then offer an apology to each iwi in their respective Deeds of Settlement for the acknowledged Crown breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.  

Cultural Redress

Cultural redress recognises the traditional, historical, cultural and spiritual associations Te Hiku iwi have with places and sites within their rohe or areas of interest.

Most of the cultural redress to be provided to Te Hiku iwi is outlined, or will be outlined, in agreements between the Crown and individual Te Hiku iwi. This agreement outlines the cultural redress in respect of areas where Te Hiku iwi have shared interests. This cultural redress includes the following elements:

Te Oneroa a Tohe / Ninety Mile Beach

The Crown acknowledges the cultural, historical and spiritual significance of Te Oneroa a Tohe to Te Hiku iwi and will provide the following redress in recognition of the responsibilities of Te Hiku iwi as kaitiaki of the Beach.

Co-governance Arrangements

A co-governance arrangement over Te Oneroa a Tohe will be provided by establishing a Te Oneroa a Tohe Statutory Board that will:

  • cover the foreshore and seabed areas of the Beach and adjoining Crown-owned lands or lands vested in Te Hiku
  • comprise equal numbers of Crown and iwi representatives (Crown representatives may include representatives of the Northland Regional Council and/or the Far North District Council)
  • develop a management plan for the Beach and ensure the Beach is managed in accordance with that plan
  • be chaired by a representative of Te Hiku iwi on a rotating basis.

Further details on the Te Oneroa a Tohe Statutory Board proposal will be developed in 2010 in consultation with local authorities.

Restoration of the Beach

The Crown has committed to explore, with Te Hiku iwi, options to assist the regeneration of toheroa and other fauna and flora on Te Oneroa a Tohe.

The Crown currently derives an income from tourist bus operators who traverse and use land administered by the Department of Conservation on their way to and from Te Rerenga Wairua / Cape Reinga. The Crown will pay this income to the Te Oneroa a Tohe Statutory Board for the Board to use for projects consistent with its objectives.   

Vesting of land adjoining Te Oneroa a Tohe

The following lands adjoining Te Oneroa a Tohe will be vested in relevant Te Hiku iwi:

  • the Ninety Mile Beach Central Conservation Area which is adjacent to the beach (145 ha)
  • Hukatere (10 ha)
  • Clarke Road Stewardship Area (3.6 ha)
  • The Ninety Mile Beach South Conservation Area (33.9 ha)

Recognition of the historical and cultural significance of Te Oneroa a Tohe

To recognise the significance of Te Oneroa a Tohe to Te Hiku iwi the Crown offers to:

  • install interpretative signs at key access points along Te Oneroa a Tohe that acknowledge the cultural and historical importance of the Beach to Te Hiku iwi
  • explore the possibility of place name changes in relation to Te Oneroa a Tohe
  • support the raising of pouwhenua to commemorate historic events across Te Oneroa a Tohe.

Te Ara Wairua and Te Rerenga Wairua / Cape Reinga

In recognition of the importance of Te Ara Wairua and Te Rerenga to Te Hiku iwi the Crown will acknowledge in statute the role of Te Hiku iwi as kaitiaki or guardians of Te Ara Wairua and Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga.

The Crown also offers to vest 75 hectares of land as a historic reserve at Te Rerenga Wairua / Cape Reinga in Ngāti Kuri. The vesting is subject to the relevant Te Hiku defining, reflecting and acknowledging the agreed kaitiaki role of each iwi.  The relevant kaitiaki iwi and the Minister of Conservation will develop a management regime that preserves as a minimum the current standard of care.

Social Accord

The Crown and Te Hiku iwi intend, by Deed of Settlement, to have entered into a ‘Social Accord' which will set out the way in which they will work together and design processes to deliver better outcomes for whanau, hapū and iwi of Te Hiku o Te Ika from Crown resources.

As part of this Accord, Te Hiku leadership and relevant Crown Ministers will meet annually to:

  • set objectives for better outcomes for Te Hiku whanau, hapū and iwi;
  • confirm priority areas for iwi and Crown to work together to achieve the agreed objectives;
  • agree the means by which the parties will work together to achieve those objectives; and
  • monitor whether the desired outcomes have been achieved and continually review objectives for their relevance.

Financial and Commercial Redress

The financial and commercial redress package is made up of:

Quantum and Interest

A total financial quantum of $120 million plus non-compounding interest from the date the agreement in principle is signed to Settlement Date.

An on-account payment of 20% of quantum ($24 million) will be made available on the signing of the Deed of Settlement. This payment is conditional on post-settlement governance entities being established to receive the payment by this time. 

Farm Properties

The Crown will transfer seven farms to Te Hiku iwi for a fixed price of $25 million. The farms are:

  • Te Paki Station (2800 ha)
  • Cape View Station (915 ha)
  • Te Raite Station (1850 ha)
  • Sweetwaters Station (2479 ha)
  • Te Karae Station (1968 ha)
  • Rangiputa Station (3691 ha)
  • Kohumaru Station (945 ha)

Aupouri Forest

If all Te Hiku iwi agree, the Crown will transfer, at an agreed market value, the Aupouri Crown forest licensed land to an entity representative of all Te Hiku iwi. In addition to the land under the forest, Te Hiku iwi will receive accumulated rentals of approximately $9.9 million and any New Zealand Units that may be allocated to these lands.

Right of First Refusal

The settlement will provide Te Hiku iwi with a right of first refusal for 169 years from the settlement date over core Crown land in the Te Hiku o Te Ika region, including public conservation land administered by the Department of Conservation on behalf of the Crown.

Next Steps

During 2010 the Crown will work with the Te Hiku Forum's representatives to draft five separate Deeds of Settlement, one unique Deed of Settlement for each iwi. It is likely that the collective aspects of their settlement will be set out in a Te Hiku Deed of Settlement. All eligible registered members of the Te Hiku iwi will have the opportunity to accept the Crown's offer to their iwi as set out in the Deed of Settlement. The Te Hiku iwi that have not already done so will use this time to develop governance arrangements for holding and managing the settlement redress, which members will also have the opportunity to ratify.

If the iwi claimant community ratifies the Deed of Settlement and the governance arrangements, the Deed will be signed by the Crown and the iwi, and the settlement will be implemented through legislation. The settlement will be for the benefit of all members of the iwi.