To: New Plymouth District Council and New Zealand Government
Peace For Pekapeka : Return Waitara Lands
Taranaki Māori Women's Network and supporters call for the return of the stolen lands in Waitara, that were forcibly confiscated through colonial occupation and unjust Crown practices, to the hapū of those lands.
We call on all members of Parliament to challenge and Vote Against the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016 that is to be introduced to the House.
The Network wishes to see the Bill reworked and fixed to meet real and meaningful outcomes for Te Atiawa and its descendants. We hope to create a space for a new conversation to address some challenging issues within our communities, encouraging profound dialogue which is focused on healing and social justice.
Why is this important?
The New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016 is not supported by the vast majority of hapū and iwi members within Waitara. The Bill further divests the lands confiscated including the Pekapeka Block, from hapū and iwi.
Our tupuna Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake stated clearly that Waitara must remain in the hands of our people.
"I will not agree to our bedroom being sold (I mean Waitara here), for this bed belongs to all of us; and do not you be in haste to give the money. If you give the money secretly, you will get no land for it. You may insist, but I will never agree to it. . . All I have to say to you, O Governor, is that none of this land will be given to you, never, never, till I die."
Wiremu Kingi to Governor Browne, April 1859.
The Waitangi Tribunal emphasised that any settlements of these claims must not create further injustice, as stated:
"A more arguable case would appear to be that the settlement of historical claims is not to pay off for the past, even were that possible, but to take those steps necessary to remove outstanding prejudice and prevent similar prejudice from arising; for the only practical settlement between peoples is one that achieves a reconciliation in fact." (Waitangi Tribunal The Taranaki Report, Kaupapa Tuatahi: p.315).
It is our view that this Bill fails to meet the expectation by the Waitangi Tribunal and the whānau, hapū and iwi of Waitara that the settlement process would be honourable and would not reproduce the prejudices of that past.
For true, meaningful and enduring resolution to take place in Waitara the stolen lands held by the NPDC must be returned to the hapū of Te Atiawa at no cost.
The NPDC (and earlier councils such as the Waitara Borough Council) have received lease payments of these lands for over 100 years. Many of the original confiscation lands within Waitara have already been made freehold sections and privatised without the knowledge of the hapū and iwi. Both the council and those private owners have benefited financially while the hapū and iwi have struggled to maintain our connection to our ancestral lands.
Hapū and iwi should not be forced to 'buy back' our own lands that were illegally confiscated by the colonial forces. Te Atiawa iwi should not be expected to 'buy back' lands from those that have benefited directly from the confiscation. The lands in Waitara must be returned for our people to have any sense that our voices have been heard. The lands in Waitara were stolen, the lands must be returned.
Me riro whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai.
How it will be delivered
Taranaki Māori Women's Network will deliver the petition to the Māori Select Committee hearings for the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016.