Ngāti Maru reaches $30m settlement with Crown

Taranaki iwi Ngāti Maru have reached an agreement in principle with the Crown for a Treaty settlement with a financial redress of $30 million.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Maru chairman Holden Hohaia Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Maru chairman Holden Hohaia said the cultural redress component of the deal was still under negotiation.

Mr Hohaia said the 2500 members of the iwi were now being asked to ratify its post settlement trust, Te Kāhui Maru.

Once that was done the government would make an ‘on account‘ payment to the trust of $15m immediately.

“The continuing negotiations might take six months, they might take 12 months, they might take two years, and in which time we would prefer to be having that money in our bank account and invested in working for us rather than sitting with the Government.”

Ngāti Maru‘s rohe stretches over vast tracts of northern and eastern Taranaki.

By 1865 the iwi had lost all its tribal lands, or more than 220,000ha, to illegal confiscations and dubious land sales.

“And historically that‘s how come there are pieces of legislation like the Ngāti Maru Landless Natives Act. It didn‘t give us a heck of a lot a land back anyway but that‘s part of the Treaty claim and grievance,” said Mr Hohaia.

About 80,000ha is now controlled by the Department of Conservation.

Mr Hohaia said the future of that DOC land could form a part of the iwi‘s cultural redress.

“Certainly an aspect of interest is the large tracts of conservation land where we are still very keen to have our mana whenua at least recognised and ideally there would be co-governace and co-management. That‘s an aspiration.”

Mr Hohaia said it was a bit too early to say what the iwi might do with the money.

“We need to be thinking really smart about whether we would be investing inside the rohe. Certainly we would want to and generate employment opportunities and get our people back onto our land.”

The honey industry was one option worth considering, Mr Hohaia said.

Ngāti Maru will be the last of the eight Taranaki iwi to settle deals which have brought $356m into the region.

Mr Hohaia said there were many opportunities for the iwi to work together.

“In many ways once Ngāti Maru settles our Treaty claim that sort of creates a new space for the Taranaki tribes to work collaboratively almost as a collective and work on investment opportunities in the region together.

“So it‘s very exciting getting Ngāti Maru to that place where we can sit at the same table and talk about the same investment opportunities with the other tribes of Taranaki.”

Mr Hohaia hoped to know the results of the ratification process soon after postal voting closed on 1 May.