Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister, Andrew Little, today welcomed Ngāti Hei to Parliament to witness the first reading of the Ngāti Hei Claims Settlement Bill.
Ngāti Hei trace their origins to Kupe, and Te Arawa waka. Their area of interest runs along the eastern seaboard of the Coromandel Peninsula from Onemana to Whangapoua, centered around Tairua and Ahuahu and includes offshore islands extending north to Cuvier Island. The 2018 Census estimates Ngāti Hei as having approximately 630 members.
“Today is a significant day for Ngāti Hei and the Crown having reached this significant milestone towards recognition of their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims,” Minister Little said.
“Ngāti Hei hold a unique place in New Zealand history. In November 1769, Ngāti Hei hosted the first recorded pōwhiri for pākehā when their paramount chief Toawaka invited Captain Cook to the fortified pā Wharetāewa in Whitianga.
“Despite these positive beginnings, even before Te Tiriti ō Waitangi was signed, the negative effects of Pākeha settlement were felt by Ngāti Hei.”
Ngāti Hei’s historical grievances relate to the promotion of laws and policies that damaged the environment, severely undermined their wellbeing, left them virtually landless, and compromised their ability to pass mātauranga Māori to their mokopuna.
The settlement includes:
- financial and commercial redress of $8.5 million.
- cultural redress including the return of 15 sites of cultural significance to Ngāti Hei.
- protocols, relationship agreements and letters of introduction with a range of Crown agencies.
- enacting a Māori Land Court order to vest Ohinau Island in the Ngāti Hei governance entity.
“The settlement is grounded in the Crown’s acknowledgement of this history and The Crown’s apology for its breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi,” Andrew Little said.
“While no treaty settlement will ever be able to compensate Ngāti Hei for the true measure of loss they have suffered, it is my sincere hope that this settlement will provide a foundation for the cultural, social and economic future of Ngāti Hei to atone for these injustices.”