Century-long dispute ended as Wairarapa lakes returned to iwi

Wairarapa lakes were officially returned to iwi ownership at a ceremony on Saturday.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Paul Goldsmith said the legal transfer of ownership at Papawai Marae in Greytown was the final chapter in a century-long dispute between the Crown, settlers and Wairarapa Māori.

The joint redress included the establishment of the Wairarapa Statutory Board, tasked with governing the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands and surrounding reserves.

“In 1896, Wairarapa Māori gifted Wairarapa Moana and its surrounding reserves to the Crown through chiefly gifting,” Goldsmith said.

“A promise was made to provide suitable land nearby, but this was never honoured. Instead the Crown provided Wairarapa Māori land years later far away.

“The Crown recognises that this was a source of considerable grievance for Wairarapa Māori. Today we commemorate the original tīpuna who partook in the tuku rangatira and the generations of Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne who lived through the pain of displacement and disconnection.”

Rangitāne o Wairarapa Tamaki nui-ā-Rua and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-a-Rua settled Treaty claims with the Crown in 2017 and 2022 respectively.

Goldsmith and Minister for Māori Crown Relations Tama Potaka said in a statement the return of Wairarapa Moana was “a result of joint redress between the two iwi through Te Rohe o Rongokako Joint Redress Act 2022”.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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