[Documents menu]History of the Maori of Aotearoa - New Zealand
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 1995 12:59:11 PST
Sender: "NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information" <NATIVE-L@tamvm1.tamu.edu>
Subject: Maori claim settlement proposal
Original Sender: bennion@actrix.gen.nz

New Zealand Government Signs Initial Agreement with Tainui Tribe
to end Historic Land Claims

On 21 December 1994 the New Zealand government signed with the Waikato-Tainui people (a large NZ tribe or iwi) a Heads of Agreement which records on a without prejudice basis matters agreed in principle to be contained in a later deed of settlement. No legal obligations between the parties or affecting any third party are created. Legislation will be required to give effect to the settlement. The agreement records that, among other things, the deed of settlement will contain:

  • A public apology from the Crown for confiscating Waikato-Tainui land, and an estimate of the claimants that the raupatu (confiscated) lands have a minimum modern value of $12 billion;
  • Confirmation of the return of the Te Rapa Air Force Base (value $4.123 million);
  • Provision for the transfer, within 5 years, of 35,787 acres Crown controlled properties (of which 33,984 acres will be transferred without improvements). If the Crown elects, commercial leases in favour of the Crown will be negotiated over lands before they are transferred. The lands will have a market valuation. The Crown and claimants reserve rights, after consultation, to change lands offered or accepted in the package. On transfer, the lands will be held in the name of Potatau Te Wherowhero (the first Maori King) for the benefit of Waikato-Tainui people;
  • Transfer of the rentals accumulated from forestry licences granted over the Maramarua and Onewhero forests under the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989. This will be achieved by a joint application to the Waitangi Tribunal, which will have to rule on a competing claim to the Maramarua forest by the Hauraki Maori Trust Board (Wai 373). The land in these forests is included in the 35,787 acres to be transferred to the claimants;
  • Reimbursement of $750,000 costs for research and negotiation of the claim;
  • The establishment of a land acquisition trust fund of $170 million, minus the value of lands transferred, and the $750,000 reimbursement of costs (estimated to leave about $65 million). Trustees will be appointed by the claimants after consultation with the Crown, capital and income are to be applied to acquisition of further land and improvements, including land for endowed colleges and provision of educational facilities, grants or scholarships;
  • An acknowledgement that the Treaty of Waitangi and its articles are not affected by the settlement and that an ongoing relationship in Treaty terms will continue to exist. Claims to the Waikato river and West Coast harbours will also remain unaffected.

The agreement notes that legislation will be required to implement the settlement to provide for the end of the scheme of resumptive clauses on the titles of state enterprise and former state enterprise lands in the "claim area", the end of the scheme for returning forest lands under the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989 in the claim area, the end of annual payments to the Tainui Trust Board, and provision for the Head of Kahui Ariki recognised by the Tainui tribes (or nominee) to be a permanent member of any conservation board in the claim area, as well as "other provisions to achieve certainty, finality and durability" of the settlement.

Tainui in exchange will give up within the claim area (excluding the Waikato River and East Coast harbours), all claims concerning confiscation, claims to lands under the state enterprises and Crown forest resumptive schemes, claims to any minerals and forests and claims to 47,000 acres of land administered by the Department of Conservation (this last relinquishment is said to be a "free gift" from Tainui to the nation).

The agreement may be reviewed by the parties and terminated if they have not entered into a deed of settlement within 6 months. The claimants undertake to provide a deed of mandate authorising them to sign the deed of settlement. Finally, the agreement notes that the Waikato-Tainui confiscation was the largest by area, and that the redress outlined represents 17% of the total redress available to settle all historical claims (including the existing fisheries settlement) and "approximately 20% of the redress for all claims" excluding the fisheries claims.


In 1863-4 the Crown provoked a war against Maori people in the Waikato region in the North Island of New Zealand. Under the NZ Settlements Act 1863, which provided for military settlements to be established on confiscated land, the Crown confiscated lands estimated at 1,202,273 acres. These became known by Waikato-Tainui as "raupatu" (confiscated) lands. The war and confiscation caused heavy economic, social and cultural damage.

A settlement was reached with Tainui in 1946 which provided for a small annuity paid to a trust board representing the people. Waikato-Tainui always considered this inadequate, and sought the return of land for land taken, rather than monetary compensation.

This Heads of Agreement has been signed in the midst of discussion about the Government's recent offer of $1 billion as a fixed sum to settle all outstanding historical claims in New Zealand. The initial response suggests that this "fiscal envelope" concept, as it has become known, will be rejected by Maori. One thousand tribal representatives gathered in late January 1995 and denounced the $1 billion offer. Waikato-Tainui people themselves have not accepted the fiscal envelope concept, even though the Heads of Agreement states that their settlement will take up 17% of it.]

Tom Bennion (editor, Maori Law Review)
e-mail: bennion@actrix.gen.nz
Telephone/fax (04) 4753681
PO Box 11 310, Wellington, New Zealand

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