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Wai56 Owners Welcome The Public Works Amendment Bill

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

WAI56, representing Wakatu Incorporation, Ngati Rarua Atiawa Iwi Trust and the owners of the WAI56 claim today acknowledge the Maori Party for their success in progressing the Public Works (Offer Back of and Compensation for Acquired Land) Amendment Bill to select committee.

Chair Paul Morgan said "this is very timely and a poignant moment in time. Significant Maori lands have been lost over many decades as a result of the Public Works Act and other legislation, and as a result our people have suffered serious economic, cultural and social hardship because of alienation from their land."

WAI56 owners descend from the families who held mana whenua over the Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay areas in 1840 and continue to do so today. They are known as the people of the Heke. Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga Ltd is the large natural group mandated to negotiate the settlement of Treaty claims in Te Tau Ihu on behalf of the people of the Heke who include Ngati Koata, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa. WAI56 is the fifth member of this collective seeking a Deed of Settlement with the Crown.

The WAI56 claim relates to the Crown's control and misadministration of our land, including the imposition of the perpetual lease regime and its ongoing discriminatory effects. As Mr Morgan explains "Our claim pertains to the behaviour of the Crown and its assault on our kaitiakitanga responsibilities unique to WAI56".

Mr Morgan said there are many cases where our land was taken for public works, without consent, without compensation being paid (or inadequate compensation) and in circumstances where the taking of land was not necessary.

Matangi Awhio - Nelson's Auckland Point School is one example. This land is the ancient pa site (from 1450 AD) of the tipuna Pohea who was the first individual resident of the Nelson City area who can be identified by name. It was the site to which Maori from outlying districts came to stay and to sell their produce to colonial settlers after European settlement in 1841. "Matangi Awhio has enormous mana as whenua tuturu, he waahi kainga o nga tipuna rangatira, he waahi tapu - our title to a portion of this area should never have been extinguished."

"Still today the Crown continues to circumvent the provisions of the Public Works Act to settle Waitangi Tribunal claims of one claimant where another may have prior rights as successors", Mr Morgan said.

To honour the memory of our tupuna who fought to protect their Native Reserve lands, we welcome this Public Works Amendment Bill. "It is one small step toward resolution of our grievances to make our whanau whanui complete", says Mr Morgan.

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