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Denise Roche speaks on the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Claims Settlement Bill, second reading

"It will never ever compensate for what they have lost and the harms that were done to them by the Crown".
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DENISE ROCHE (Green): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Tēnā koutou e te Whare. Rau rangatira mā tēnei te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te rā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

[Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. Greetings to you collectively in the House. Leaders of a hundredfold, I acknowledge you in regard to the matter of the day; salutations, greetings, and congratulations to you all.]

It is my privilege to take the call for the Green Party to speak on the second reading of this bill, the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Claims Settlement Bill.

I maintain that it is a privilege to be in this House at a time in history when the Crown seeks to right the wrongs and heal the hurt is an opportunity that very few New Zealanders actually get, and there are only 121 MPs allowed in this House. This is where we see the founding document of our country, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which enables non-Māori to live in this land peaceably. This is where we see te Tiriti finally honoured after many, many, many breaches that have left the people of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura dispossessed, poor, and scattered.

I was not able to come to hear the submissions on this bill that were made to the Māori Affairs Committee in Karapiro, which is a shame because there is a much clearer understanding achieved when the select committee hears the experiences and notes the concerns of submitters kanohi ki to kanohi—face to face. So I offer my apologies to the people of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura for that.

I did, however, have a close look at all the supporting evidence, all the written submissions, so that I could get a clearer picture of the issues and add to my understanding of the report that the committee has presented to the House. Those submissions, and there were 12 of them, include support from neighbouring iwi, from hapū within the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura iwi, and from community organisations with conservation interests in the land that will be recognised as within the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura domain. There is a submission from the local council also in support of all that the settlement outlines.

I note, though, that no settlement is without controversy and I must state that the Green Party does hold concerns that these settlements can set Māori against Māori and, in so doing, create possibly more breaches of te Tiriti. There are frequently concerns around competing claims with other iwi who also have links to the wāhi tapu and whenua in the area as outlined in the area of interest in the settlement bill. There are frequently overlapping claims and this settlement is no exception.

So I just want to acknowledge what the previous speaker, Meka Whaitiri, said in acknowledging the Arapuni land and how that has been dealt with. It is an area of conflict and competing interests. But I also want to acknowledge Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, who have worked with their neighbouring iwi to try to resolve some of those differences.

I note that Ngāti Koroki Kahukura maintain their mana whenua status as having dominant interest in their sacred maunga, Maungatautari, although the ownership of the reserve rests with the co-management structure, Te Hapori o Maungatautari, which comprises other iwi and members of the wider community. This is an incredibly sophisticated and quite a difficult set up. Co-management, which I note Ngāti Koroki Kahukura have also engaged with in the treatment of their awa and their domain within the Waikato River, is not an easy road, but it is a road that gives the status of mana whenua to the tangata whenua of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura. That is crucial to maintaining the status of the iwi. Co-management is a way forward, and I understand that, and I wish Ngāti Koroki Kahukura all my best wishes for the work that they will be doing to restore the wairua of the river.

We support the legislation because we are aware that Ngāti Koroki Kahukura are looking forward to the settlement of this bill, as it will pave a way forward and place the iwi on a better economic footing. It will never ever compensate for what they have lost and the harms that were done to them by the Crown. I have to make a political point, because the Greens always do. We never ever feel that these bills are full and final settlements, because the negotiation process is not an even-handed process, and we have seen that. There is really no option but for iwi to take what is offered, even though they negotiate hard. I pay my respects to the negotiation teams who have worked on this bill, but it is a deal. It is the best deal that iwi could get at this particular time, but there may also be further impacts on generations of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura to come. That is why we do not believe that the settlement is final.

Having said that, we celebrate with Ngāti Koroki Kahukura the passing of this settlement bill through its second reading today. We will, of course, be supporting it. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

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