Message from the Chairman – Ngā mihi o te wā me te Tau Hau

Tēnā koutou katoa,

What a year it has been for Te Whakatōhea – another challenging year, as we progress towards an enduring settlement for all of Whakatōhea.

On behalf of all our Trustees, we extend a heartfelt mihi to Whakatōhea whānui who stood by the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust throughout 2018. We know this year has been a testing one, and we remain humbled by your support.

Much of the year has been absorbed by the challenges of the Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry, and the resulting iwi-wide voting process that was recommended.

We were pleased to receive the results vote which showed majority support for this Trust and our continued work to achieve a comprehensive settlement for all our people.  We look forward to the Ministers for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and for Māori Development confirming these results so that we can keep moving forward towards settlement.

We had hoped to have a decision on this before Christmas, but this is now looking more likely to be received in the new year.

We want to take this opportunity to assure you that the Trust will continue in its works for all of Te Whakatōhea and we look forward to moving forward with unity to ensure the aspirations of our tīpuna come to life.

Indeed, our Agreement in Principle holds the promise of much opportunity for Te Whakatōhea: a comprehensive settlement of $100 million, it will help us equip our iwi to assert huge authority and influence over and within our rohe in a practical expression of mana whenua and mana moana, and in social terms help generate jobs to ensure that our people can return home and prosper. You can read more about what the AIP includes here.

Additional to our settlement, we were pleased with the recent announcement of funding from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for the further development of aquaculture opportunities within our rohe.  This is very much aligned with, and will enhance, the outcomes that will be achieved for Whakatōhea through the negotiations with the Crown. The PGF funding includes $935,000 for the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board to prepare a business case to accelerate aquaculture developments in Whakatōhea rohe moana, and $19,850,000 to be invested in the development of a sustainable mussel farming and production facility in Ōpōtiki. You can read more about all the projects receiving support from the PGF in our region here.

This is exciting news and we look forward to seeing our people spearheading this growing industry through our settlement, and providing opportunities for the people of Ōpōtiki.  As Whakatōhea, we work together to grow what we believe are the best mussels in the world. We can go even further in creating opportunities for our iwi, hapū and whānau when we realise the 5000ha of marine space we have negotiated in our settlement for Whakatōhea.

We look forward to 2019, and our big hope is that it will be the year where we can transform our Agreement in Principle into the Deed of Settlement for all our iwi to vote upon. We are also keen to ensure a comprehensive historic account is included in our settlement. We will continue to keep you updated on any developments relating to the Crown decision on the vote, our settlement negotiations, and how you can be involved.

Now, Christmas is almost here, and we, your Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trustees wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope you stay safe this festive season, and get to enjoy quality time with whānau. Mā te Atua e manaaki, e arahia, e tiaki hoki i ā tātou katoa i roto i te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou ka heke mai nei.

Nākū noa, nā

Graeme Riesterer

Waitangi Tribunal woes frustrating for Te Whakatōhea

Waitangi Tribunal woes frustrating for Te Whakatōhea

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust negotiator Maui Hudson says he is deeply frustrated by an admission from the Waitangi Tribunal Chief Judge that the organisation is ‘stretched to the limit’.

Earlier this year the Tribunal recommended Whakatōhea undergo a further voting process with its members to decide whether to proceed with the direct negotiations pathway or stop and pursue a full Waitangi Tribunal inquiry.

Mr Hudson says it is unacceptable for the Waitangi Tribunal to raise claimants’ expectations in the absence of robust information around timelines.

“The Tribunal must have known earlier this year, when they recommended that Whakatōhea goes to another vote, that their capability to press ahead with a full inquiry was severely limited,” he says.

“Our voting process ends today, and the Tribunal should have made this admission at the beginning of our process given it is a material consideration for our people.”

“The impact of the Tribunal’s decision means that it is highly possible that those who vote for a full district inquiry settlement did so on the assumption it would extend our settlement process by a few years rather than decades.”

“If Whakatōhea has to wait another 10-20 years for settlement, we conservatively estimate potential economic losses of at least $80m. When you combine it with the 20-year hiatus since our first offer in 1996, the loss exceeds $200m.”

“It is unacceptable for the Waitangi Tribunal to exacerbate our grievances in this manner and deny our people a chance to build their future.”

The Waitangi Tribunal receives $8m a year to fund its activities, while last year Treaty lawyers extracted $14m from Legal Aid to assist their clients.

Through the Whakatōhea Mandate Inquiry process, lawyers have received more than $1.5m in legal aid. Mr Hudson says this is more than the funding envelope available to the Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust to complete the entire negotiations process.

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust welcomes release of Waitangi Tribunal report

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust welcomes release of Waitangi Tribunal report

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust (the Trust) has welcomed today’s release of a Waitangi Tribunal report inquiring into the Trust’s Deed of Mandate to settle the Treaty claims of the Whakatōhea iwi.

Chairman Graeme Riesterer says the Trust is now working through the report’s findings in detail and considering how best to address the Tribunal’s recommendations.

“Our job is to work on behalf of Whakatōhea – those of us here now as well as those of us to come, and to acknowledge and protect the mana of those who have gone before us,” he says.

“The Trust remains committed to continuing to act in the best interests of all Whakatōhea.”

Mr Riesterer says the Trust acknowledges that the Tribunal has identified a need to test the ‘pulse of the people’ in relation to the current settlement negotiations.

However, he believes the findings of the report should be considered in the context of the efforts Whakatōhea has made to try to achieve a settlement, which include more than 20 years of discussions and at least seven years’ work to achieve a mandate.

“We believe the progress we have made in negotiations with the Crown is a hugely positive step for Whakatōhea,” he says.

“Our goal has always been, and continues to be, to establish an enduring settlement for all of Whakatōhea.”

The Trust says it has been encouraged by the support from iwi members throughout the Waitangi Tribunal hearing process, especially kuia and kaumātua who have strived for decades to achieve a settlement for Whakatōhea.

“We have been humbled by their tautoko and want to recognise their commitment to this important kaupapa,” says Mr Riesterer.

“The Trust also acknowledges that reconfirming support for our settlement negotiations amongst all the members of our hapū would be a positive step, and both the Trust and the Crown supported this idea during the Waitangi Tribunal hearing.”

Mr Riesterer confirms that the Trust also supports the Tribunal’s recommendation for the Crown to engage with the Mokomoko and Te Kahika whānau.

“We are all whānau and, as we have always said, we need to come together on this journey.

“Anybody can disagree with this settlement, that’s their right, but if the majority of our iwi decide this is the right settlement then we owe it to them and our tīpuna to progress.”

The Trust says it will communicate with all its iwi members on next steps through a further round of hui-a-hapū and hui-a-rohe in the coming weeks.

“We want to kōrero with all of our people to let them know what effect the report will have, once we have fully considered the Tribunal’s findings,” Mr Riesterer says.

“We believe this settlement is crucial to the future of our iwi. The settlement redress will not only acknowledge the past, but will give all of Whakatōhea the tools to be able to drive our own future.”

Whakatōhea Sign Agreement In Principle with Crown

Whakatōhea Sign Agreement In Principle with Crown

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust has today signed an Agreement in Principle with the Crown at Parliament, which it says is a positive step towards settling its historical Treaty of Waitangi

Chairman Graeme Riesterer says Whakatōhea first attempted to settle its raupatu (land confiscation) claims against the Crown over 20 years ago, and is pleased to be getting closer to achieving what its
kaumātua set out to do so long ago.

“Today’s signing of the Agreement in Principle is an important milestone for us,” he says.

“Our kaumātua struggled for so long and endured so much hardship to achieve this settlement, and we owe it to them to complete this journey.”

Kaumātua and Trustee Bruce Pukepuke says the settlement is about much more than financial redress, as the iwi can never be adequately compensated for the huge losses they endured.

“This settlement is about us as a people, rediscovering our Whakatōhea identity and coming together as one,” says Mr Pukepuke.

“Although this is a Crown process, it is also an opportunity for our iwi, hapū and whānau to reconnect with our hau kāinga.

“We believe it will allow our people to begin to heal.”

Over the past year Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust has held hui throughout Aotearoa to ensure the views and aspirations of Whakatōhea are reflected in any settlement outcome.

Mr Riesterer says the Trust has been encouraged by feedback from its people around the progress that has been made to date.

“We appreciate that not all our whānau will agree, but we are focused on working to get the best outcome for all of Whakatōhea.

“Our role is to ensure our iwi can look to a brighter future, and facilitate them to thrive culturally, socially, and economically,” Mr Riesterer says.

The Trust will now negotiate the details of the settlement with the Crown, in the hopes of reaching a draft Deed of Settlement in the next 12 to 18 months. Trustees are calling on all Whakatōhea descendants to register and play a part in the journey.

“If you whakapapa to Whakatōhea, it is your birth-right to be a part of this.”

For more information visit

WPCT Chairman Graeme Riesterer and Treaty Negotiations Minister Hon. Christopher Finlayson sign the AIP at Parliament.

About Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust
It is widely acknowledged that Whakatōhea suffered significant prejudice from various Crown acts and omissions since 1840, including the large scale raupatu (confiscation) of Whakatōhea whenua
(land) in the 1860s. Whakatōhea first attempted to settle the historical Whakatōhea raupatu claims against the Crown in 1996.

The Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust was set up in October 2016 following an election and appointment process. 91.6% of the iwi voted in favour of the Trust progressing a Whakatōhea Treaty
settlement with the Crown.

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust’s vision is “Whāia to pae tawhiti kia tata. Whāia to pae tata kiā maua” – Pursue the distant pathways of your dreams so they may become your reality.
It aims to successfully negotiate a Deed of Settlement with the Crown, to secure a robust and enduring platform for Whakatōhea into the future.

WPCT Response to Waitangi Tribunal Decision

WPCT Response to Waitangi Tribunal Decision

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust welcomes the Waitangi Tribunal decision to hold a hearing on the Crown’s decision to recognise our mandate to negotiate a Treaty of Waitangi settlement for Whakatōhea.

We look forward to addressing any concerns that the Tribunal, or anyone else might have in the same forthright and transparent way that we always have.

We respect the right of any member of Whakatōhea to challenge the process. However, we remain committed to getting the best outcome for our people, to brighten our futures and facilitate the ability of our iwi to thrive culturally, socially, and economically.

The Crown provided a comprehensive settlement offer to Whakatōhea on 2nd August 2017. That offer was presented at a Hui-a-Iwi at Waiaua Marae on Saturday 5th August 2017 and has since been accepted in principle by the Whakatōhea Pre-settlement Claims Trust.

We will now work toward bringing the offer together into an Agreement in Principle that will be signed on the 18th of August. That agreement will set out the specific components of the proposed redress, however it will not be binding and our people will have the final say about whether we settle or not. WPCT has held a number of hui throughout Aotearoa to ensure that the views and aspirations of our people are reflected in any settlement outcome. Through this engagement, we are confident that we maintain the support displayed by our people when they chose to mandate the WPCT. We are humbled by the encouragement of our people for the progress that has been achieved to date, and their confidence in our efforts to secure a robust and enduring platform for Whakatohea into the future.

As always, our door is always open to anyone who has whakapapa to Whakatōhea, who might want to discuss these matters and participate within the process, as this is a settlement for all our people.

Iwi updated on Whakatōhea Settlement

Iwi updated on Whakatōhea Settlement

Whakatōhea Iwi members gathered at the Ōpōtiki Senior Citizens Hall to hear an update
from the Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust on the progress of the Whakatōhea
settlement process to now.

The update is following the Pre-Settlement Trust’s 2nd round of hui held at several locations
across the motu.

Iwi members were able to take part in discussions regarding the structure of negotiations.
The update hui also provided an opportunity for individuals who attended, to workshop
considerations for Whakatōhea’s future and put forward any queries and questions to the
Pre-Settlement Trust.