Moriori Treaty spells a new legacy of justice and peace

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Andrew Little speaks to Moriori Chief Negotiator Maui Horomona in August 2019 (RNZ Photo by Mani Dunlop)

Matai O’Connor
Wellington, November 23, 2021

The final reading of the Moriori Treaty claim was the culmination of decades of struggle for truth and justice, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little has said.

The imi say the settlement will help restore the damage caused to their cultural identity over generations.

The Act will give effect to the deed of settlement between Moriori and the Crown which was signed on February 14, 2020. The settlement for the will included an agreed account of their history, a Crown apology, and $18 million.

Struggle for Maori

Mr Little was the first to speak and said that it (November 23, 2021) was a very special day for Moriori.

“One hundred and fifty-nine years ago Moriori Karapuna petitioned Governor George Grey, remembering the trauma of the 1835 settlement of Rekohu by Ngati Mutunga in seeking the Crown’s protection. This day is the culmination of the struggle for truth and justice that began then. It is a testament to the years of hard work by Moriori and dedication to negotiating a deed of settlement and a long-awaited day of celebration at the end of the legislative period that has lasted nearly two years because of delays caused by the Covid outbreak,” he said.

He thanked the Moriori for their patience in reaching this milestone.

“It is now time for the Crown to make redress to Moriori for its breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and I am pleased to be here to support the enactment of their bill,” Mr Little said.

Mr Little spoke about how Moriori could not physically be present in the House to hear the reading. It was another sacrifice that they have had to make in order to achieve the justice they have been wanting.

“I remember and pay tribute to Moriori Karapuna on this occasion for the grievances they have suffered and the legacy of peace which serves as a cornerstone for the identity of Moriori to the present day,” he said.

Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson (RNZ Photo by Samuel Rillstone)

Redressing acts of ancestors

Minister of Maori Development Willie Jackson said that it was an honour and privilege to speak as a descendant of Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga, who invaded, occupied and enslaved Moriori on the island.

“Some people might think that it is not right for someone like me to speak, given the mahi I do and what happened with my ancestors but I have always said and to a number of Moriori I know, some of the Solomon whanau in Mangere, that I could not be held responsible for the acts of some of our tupuna, some of our ancestors. As a lot of people would argue today perhaps, with regards to what their ancestors did to Maori, but I certainly have an opportunity to get and be part of the redress and this is what today is all about,” he said.

Mr Jackson said that he has a part to play in terms of the justice side, the human side, and that is what the third readings are all about.

“When I told some of my Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga whanaunga that I would be having a korero on the bill they were a bit worried but I am certainly not because the Moriori story is one of the most fascinating stories,” he said.

In an opening in Te Re Moriori or the Moriori language, Green MP Te Anau Tuiono paid homage to the karapuna or ancestors of Rekohu.

In his speech in Te Reo Maori, he said that the imi have arrived at the summit of the hill to fulfil their descendants’ aspirations.

Education Minister challenged

He laid down a challenge to the Associated Education Minister who was present, to take note of the bill and reminded him that to incorporate the correct history in schools would be a chance to right the wrongs of false histories and honour the narratives of the Moriori.

“E harikoa ana ahau kei konei te Minita Tuarua o te Tahuhu matauranga, ki te whakarongo ki nga korero, i te mea, mena ka whai wahi tatou ki te whakatika te hitori te kino, te rukahu ki roto i nga hitori ki te whakahonore tatou i nga korero tuku iho o nga imi Moriori – ka tika to tatou haere o te waka.”

Customs and Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri

Celebrating Moriori connection

Customs and Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri said that the reading was a time for celebration and spoke about the Moriori connection to Turanganui-a-Kiwa.

“I want to talk about my connection to Rekohu as it is the birthplace of the Ringatu faith. On November 15 1865, as a result of the Waerenga-a-Hika siege in my home region of Turanganui-a-Kiwa, Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuaki along with his followers from Rongowhaakata, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Te Whanau a Kai and Ngariki Kaiputahi were imprisoned at Rekohu without trail, so hence my relationship. And on the journey [among those] who went with Te Kooti was my great-great-grandfather… So as a descendent of the Turanga people I want to record my appreciation to the Moriori people who looked after my tipuna at that very trying time in our history,” she said.

Matai O’Connor is a Journalist at Radio New Zealand. The above article has been published  under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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