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Te Urewera report blueprint for action

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Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger says the Waitangi Tribunal’s Te Urewera Report is a major achievement that should not be put on a shelf and forgotten.

The sixth and final volume of the report was released just before Christmas, long after the tribe signed off on a settlement with the Crown.

Its three chapters cover environmental issues, specific claims, and socio-economic issues.

The environmental chapter discusses the introduction to Te Urewera of foreign species including deer, possums, weasels, and trout; the ownership and management of rivers; the management of Whirinaki Forest; and environmental management generally.

Mr Kruger says the findings of massive crown neglect of Te Urewera, especially with regards its rivers and streams, are pertinent to future management.

He says Tuhoe and the Department of Conservation now agree there is a problem with pests, and rather than continuing to look for someone to blame they are committed to finding solutions.

Many of the pests were introduced by government agencies that saw them as resources and assets, and that may be the way to control them, by seeing them as a raw material within a wider economic strategy.

The tribunal also identified actions of the crown which were aimed at making Tuhoe impoverished and politically impotent.

It presented evidence of the shocking poverty experienced in most Te Urewera communities throughout the 20th century including children dependent of charity for food and clothing, families living in shacks and caves, and communities forced to eat rotten potatoes for want of other food.

Causes of poverty included massive land loss and failure by the Crown to provide adequate assistance.

More recently, the privatisation of the timber industry in the late 1980s led to massive job losses and severe poverty in the west of the inquiry district, which had previously been relatively prosperous.

“These volumes identify have we have to do to catch up, what needs to be fixed,” Mr Kruger says.

“The Crown negotiates what it calls a ‘comprehensive settlement’ but the report identifies a lot of what has been left on the margins since 1840 and is still to do.

“The report is a great piece of work and it should not just be passed over the counter and put on the shelf. There should be recognition of the work of Judge Savage and his panel” (which also included historian Dr Ann Parsonson, lawyer Jo Morris, and kaumatua the late Tuahine Northover.


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