Tuhoe settlement bill passes final hurdle

The Tuhoe Claims Settlement Bill and Te Urewera Bill have passed their final reading in Parliament and now only need the Governor General's assent to become law.

The move ends over 100 years of Tuhoe grievances against the Crown.

In speeches in Parliament for the passing of the bills, politicians from all parties acknowledged the wrongs committed against Tuhoe and welcomed the redress that was finally being provided to the Ngai Tuhoe people.

"On this historic day it's a chance to acknowledge the grave wrong of history and attempt to put it right today," said New Zealand First leader Winston Peter.

The unique agreement encompassed in the Tuhoe Claims Settlement and Te Urewera Bills will see Ngai Tuhoe iwi receive $170 million, plus the return of more than 200,000 hectares of Te Urewera land, which shifts from National Park status and becomes a new legal entity, which Tuhoe will oversee as guardians.

The settlement also paves the way for mana motuhake or self-government for Tuhoe.

Under mana motuhake, the iwi's plan over the next 40 years is to take partial control of health, education and social services for its people.

Speaking on the legislation, Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples, said: "Today a new dawn has come. It has taken until now to reach the point where Tuhoe were at in 1896."

Dr Sharples was making reference to the 1896 Te Urewera District Native Reserve Act, which enshrined Tuhoe traditional land as a 2,650 square kilometre reserve within which a Tuhoe controlled commission would determine titles.

The law would have allowed for the internal self-government based on Tuhoe customs and protocol.

The Urewera reserve was the only autonomous tribal district in New Zealand law but the legislation was eventually repealed.