The Crown and Whanganui Iwi negotiators have initialled the Whanganui River Deed of Settlement and Te Awa Tupua Framework Document which, if agreed to by Whanganui Iwi members through a ratification process, will settle historical Treaty of Waitangi claims relating to the Whanganui River, according to Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson.
“Initialling this deed and framework is a major step to resolving a dispute with the Crown which Whanganui Iwi has been pursuing through the Courts since 1873,” Mr Finlayson said. “The historical grievances require a unique solution that will recognise the intrinsic values and relationship of Whanganui Iwi with the Whanganui River, while providing a foundation for iwi and the community to work together for the health and wellbeing of the river.”
Finlayson says the Whanganui River Deed of Settlement and Te Awa Tupua framework do three key things:
- The settlement will address and settle longstanding historical grievances of Whanganui Iwi in relation to the Whanganui River in a way that will recognise the innate relationship between iwi and the river for the first time;
- The settlement will recognise the river as Te Awa Tupua, an integrated living whole from the mountains to the sea and which is intrinsically connected to the iwi, with its own legal identity; and
- The Te Awa Tupua framework will bring together iwi and the wider community in a strategic process based on core Te Awa Tupua values. The strategy will consider the long term environmental, social, cultural and economic health and wellbeing of the river.
The settlement also includes $80 million in financial redress and the establishment of a $30 million contestable fund that will be available to persons, groups or entities seeking funding for initiatives related to Te Awa Tupua.
The deed and framework are now subject to ratification by members of Whanganui Iwi. If ratified, the deed and framework will be implemented following the passage of settlement legislation through Parliament.