NGATI TURANGITUKUA CLAIMS SETTLEMENT BILL SECOND READINGTreaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Mr Speaker I move that the Ngati Turangitukua Claims Settlement Bill be now read a second time. At the conclusion of the debate I intend to move that the Bill be referred to the Maori Affairs Select Committee with an instruction that the Bill be reported back to the House by the 29th July 1999.
This Bill will enact those parts of the final settlement of the claim brought by Ngati Turangitukua against the Crown which require legislation.
It records the apology tendered to Ngati Turangitukua for the breaches by the Crown of its Treaty obligations, provides for the transfer of certain properties and deals with a number of reserves at Turangi. It also removes what are known as Section 27B memorials registered against the titles to privately owned land in the township, and removes the jurisdiction of the Courts or the Waitangi Tribunal to consider the claim or the adequacy of the settlement in the future.
The Ngati Turangitukua claim relates to the development of the Turangi township in the 1960s as part of the massive Tongariro Power Development Scheme. The history of this major undertaking by the Crown is set out in the Bill and I do not want to repeat that here at this time. Ngati Turangitukua believed that the Crown had acted grossly unfairly in its dealings with the hapu and brought a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1989. In its report on the claim released in September 1995 the Tribunal made a number of findings which included the following:
· that the Crown acquired the lands of Ngati Turangitukua when there were other lands owned by the Crown which was available
· that there was inadequate consultation with the hapu regarding the construction of the township
· that the land area taken by the Crown was in excess of the maximum area the Crown promised it would take
· that having undertaken to lease part of the land required for a period of 12 years, the Crown instead compulsorily took the freehold and did not return it
· wahi tapu were destroyed, and
· adequate compensation was not paid for the acquisition of the hapu lands
In brief the Tribunal found that as a result of the Crown's actions, Ngati Turangitukua lost much of its ancestral lands, its social and economic base was seriously eroded thus causing spiritual cultural and economic prejudice to the hapu. It must be remembered that the Crown has a duty to actively protect the interests of Maori. Clearly here it did not do so.
Negotiations to try to resolve the claim began shortly after the Tribunal released its report in 1995 but unfortunately a satisfactory resolution was elusive and in July 1996 Ngati Turangitukua returned to the Waitangi Tribunal to seek redress there. The Tribunal has the power to order the return of properties which are subject to Section 27B memorials and in this case there were quite a large number of such properties, many of which had passed into private ownership subject of course to the memorial previously noted on the title. In due course the Tribunal in July 1998 made a number of interim orders for the compulsory return of certain lands at Turangi. At that point the Crown and Ngati Turangitukua had 90 days to try to agree to settle on terms which may or may not be consistent with the interim orders. If the parties were unable to agree on a settlement the interim orders would become final. This was the first time that the Tribunal had made interim orders for the return of land since 1988, the year Parliament gave the Tribunal the power to order the return of land. It was no doubt a time of considerable anxiety for a number of private land owners in Turangi who would have had no choice but to sell their properties at market value to the Crown. While they would have always have been aware of the possibility ( because they would have been aware of the memorial against the title to their properties), no doubt they would have gained solace from the fact that in over 10 years no interim orders had ever been made by the Tribunal.
I am pleased to be able to inform the House that as a result of further negotiations a settlement was reached which resulted in only one privately owned property being compulsorily acquired by the Crown under the memorial mechanism. This is Turangitukua House which is a valuable wahi tapu site. All other properties to be returned are either Crown owned or owned by SOEs. This outcome would not have been possible without the constructive and understanding approach of the Ngati Turangitukua people who shared our desire that a settlement should cause as little disruption as possible to private land owners who had purchased their properties in good faith. The negotiations were not easy as we sought to right wrongs that had been done. But with goodwill on both sides a settlement was concluded and I wish to acknowledge the positive contribution of the hapu negotiators led by Mahlon Nepia. This may not be one of the larger settlements of grievances but its critical importance to Ngati Turangitukua is acknowledged and indeed cannot be denied. I am sure the House will share my pleasure that a full and final settlement of the grievances has been achieved.
I also wish to acknowledge the contribution made by the Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato to the settlement. Both were helpful throughout and this settlement is yet another example of how parties who historically may have talked past eachother have now forged a new and positive relationship which augers well for the future.
I hope the House will indulge me at this point if I extend my thanks also to my own team at the Office of Treaty Settlements and the other government officials involved. The negotiations were very detailed and time consuming and you are entitled to be satisfied at a job well done.
This is yet another Bill which perfects a settlement reached between the Crown and Maori. It will be for the House to determine whether it approves the Bill to make the settlement unconditional. But it is not for a select committee to change the Deed of Settlement and by doing so, renegotiate the settlement itself. The Maori Affairs Select Committee to which this Bill is top be submitted has already experienced similar legislation recently with the Ngai Tahu settlement legislation. But I would welcome its examination of the Bill to make sure it actually does what it is intended to do. I hope that that would not take very long as the operative parts of the Bill are contained in only 30 or so clauses, and that is why I am recommending that the committee be directed to report the Bill back to the House in 2 weeks.
Finally Mr Speaker, may I advise members of the public who are interested in the Treaty settlement process that the original Tribunal Report and its subsequent remedies report are both available from the Waitangi Tribunal. The Settlement Deed can be obtained from the Office of Treaty Settlements.
Further the government has tried to set out in the Bill itself a shortened version describing the claim.
I am confident that this settlement will restore the honour of the Crown, will properly recognise the manawhenua of Ngati Turangitukua and enable them to look to the future with confidence, and will enhance and renew the relationship between the hapu and the Crown and, through the Crown, with the people of this land.
I commend the Bill to the House.