Government indicates Mt Taranaki settlement to come

Maunga Taranaki (Getty)
Maunga Taranaki (Getty)

The Government says it's keen to start Treaty negotiations over one of the country's best known landmarks, Mt Taranaki.

Three Taranaki iwi travelled to Parliament on Wednesday to witness the final passage of their settlement laws.

It was an historic day as iwi Ngaruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki joined to sing a waiata on the steps of Parliament.

"I'm just so excited; words can't explain how I'm feeling. Mixed emotions of course, but we've got to stay true to ourselves and it's time to move on now," said Tokatumoana Walden of the Taranaki Iwi Trust.

In the 1860s the Crown confiscated 1.2 million acres of Taranaki land. Iwi then sought refuge at Parihaka village only to suffer further.

Around 1500 Crown troops invading the area using scorched-earth tactics, with more than 400 Taranaki men and boys exiled to South Island prisons.

"Our Tipuna suffered at the hands of some of the most horrendous actions of the Crown, and I don't think that is fully appreciated," said Liana Poutu of Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa.

But Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson did address the injustice.

"Taranaki iwi women were among those who were left to maintain the settlement in the absence of so many of the husbands, fathers, sons, and were subject to grievous assault by Crown troops."

The Government is working on a specific settlement to address the injustice at Parihaka, but Wednesday's redress for the three iwi include Financial redress for Ngaruahine of $67.5 million, Te Atiawa $87m and Taranaki $70m.

Mr Finlayson is now looking ahead to the next major settlement.

"Finally I say to the iwi of Taranaki - let's talk about that mountain sometime soon."

The Government is keen to start negotiating Mount Taranaki with the eight Taranaki iwi. The message to the public is don't be afraid.

"Taranaki public have nothing to fear. This is a positive thing for our public; this is a positive thing for Ngaruahine," said Will Edwards of the Ngaruahine Trust.

So while one historic chapter closes on Wednesday for three Taranaki iwi, the journey is certainly not over. The road ahead is now clearly focused on the settlement of Maunga Taranaki.