December 07, 2020
Tarawera River clean up the deal maker
The chair of Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust says people need to look beyond the dollar value of settlements.
More than 600 members of the eastern Bay of Plenty iwi returned to Rangitihi marae in Matatā on Saturday to witness the signing of the deed of settlement and hear Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little apologise on behalf of the crown for treaty breaches that left it almost landless.
Leith Comer says while media reports have focused on the $11 million redress figure, that includes its share of the earlier central North Island Forestry Settlement.
He says Ngāti Rangitihi signed not for the money but for the return of culturally significant whenua where it lived before the Tarawera eruption, and for a commitment to work together on issues like the clean up of the Tarawera River and its terminal wetland at Matatā, Te Awa o te Atua, which have been polluted for more than half a century with pulp and paper waste from the Kawerau mill.
"We have an acknowledgement that was a breach like Makino, we have got an apology from the crown but most of all we have got a commitment from them to work with the other iwi like Ngāti Makino, Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau and ourselves, and all of the local government agencies to set about restoring the mauri of Tarawera Awa and Te Awa o te Atua," Mr Comer says.
Leith Comer says while the Government gets on with progressing the settlement legislation through its stages, the trust will hold elections for a new board.
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