“We must remember to remember.” Tā Tipene O’Regan
On a chilly but sunny day in late September 1998, over a thousand Ngāi Tahu from all over the country made their way to a pōhiri at Pipitea Marae in Poneke | Wellington. A pōhiri marking the beginning of the end of a nearly 150-year struggle to get recompense from the Crown / Government for their broken promises, illicit land deals and intentional deprivation of Ngāi Tahu. Ngāi Tahu historian, Dr Mike Stevens noted in a presentation at the 2023 WORD Christchurch festival, the result of the land sales saw Ngāi Tahu “herded on to reserves [and thus] conquest [was] by contract.” Over the subsequent years that followed there was “no positive outcome, no remedial action of the broken promises, [in short] these documents are a profound record of a fraudulence neglect by the Government of the time.” The documents Dr Mike Stevens refers to are the 1879 Middle Island Native Purchases Royal Commission of Inquiry papers.
But I digress, the true significance of the pōhiri for me was the unification of the tribe in the one place at the same time in such numbers. Unified in purpose, pride and commitment of fulfilling the mahi | work our tipuna | ancestors before us started. This became more pointed the next day in early afternoon of Tuesday 29 September 1998, as Ngāi Tahu moved as a collective up the steps and into Parliament Buildings. As Puamiria Parata-Goodall states in the 25th Celebration video “this is the day we see the mana of Tahu stepping forward in all its grace and dignity and it was just phenomenal to see this.” Puamiria played a large part in coordinating not only the movement of this gathering but also all the preparation leading up to that day. She and a group of equally committed tribal members worked tirelessly to ensure everyone was where they needed to be, doing what they needed to do to ensure a positive safe outcome for all present.
“Mō tātou, ā mō kā uri a muri ake nei – for us and our children after us”
So 25 years on, the Iwi | tribe as a collective has moved forward in leaps and bounds. In spite of COVID, fiscally the tribe has made wise investments which have seen it through the lean years. Unlike other businesses this is an intergenerational business. Their investments are made on behalf of and for generations not yet born. While COVID did them no favours, like all Aotearoa | New Zealand business decisions had to be made and new strategies developed, including the mothballing of some of their tourism operations. Now post COVID restrictions, Ngāi Tahu Holdings and its subsidiaries are learning how to operate in this new normal.
Settlement has also empowered the 18 Papatipu Marae to develop their mana motuhake, providing various socio-economic opportunities for their hapū members. There are now more opportunities to engage as a tribal member with the Iwi regardless of where you live in the world. In true Tahu fashion they have embraced technology implementing the first online cultural atlas Kā Huru Manu , and more recently their online archive Kareao.
Never more has the tribal whakatauki | proverb: ‘mō tātou, a, mō kā uri a muri ake nei – for us and for our children after us’ begun to be realised than with the tribal holistic approach of its suite of socio-economic Whānau Opportunities and tribal savings scheme Whai Rawa.
Looking back now 25 years from that day in Poneke | Wellington, I think of all of those present that day who have now passed on. I think of all of those who came before them, who kept the faith, held the line and never stopped believing that this day would come, and their future children would benefit from their efforts. I thank them all for their efforts as I remember the words of a song Hana O’Regan wrote following Settlement:
Mā wai e hua nei te haumāuiui o te tini, inā kurehu ake te tōtā i te rae ki tua o mahara e?
Tītia ki te uma kā wai o ōhākī kia rere kā wai o mihi e ki roto i ō uri ā haere ake nei
Who will speak of the accomplishments of the many when the sweat on the brow dims to but a distant memory?
Hold fast to your heart the memory of their last words so the waters of praise will flow within your descendants forevermore.
Her Father Tā Tipene O’Regan constantly reminds Ngāi Tahu that “we must remember to remember” so such deeds and events are not forgotten. That they don’t become emotionless words on a page.
Now the baton passes to the next generation – ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi, many of whom who were born during the Settlement. They now inherit the aspirations of their ancestors to secure the future of generations of descendants they will never meet and to do it with the mana, grace and dignity viewed that chilly but sunny September day in 1998.
More about the signing of the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement
On 29 September 2023 - 25 years later - Ngāi Tahu had a Settlement Day Commemoration & Climate Change Symposium.
- Te Whakataunga – 20th Celebration
- 25th Anniversary of the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement
On 1 October 1998 the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act passed into law.
Te Kerēme is a selective index to the Ngāi Tahu claim. It provides volume and page number references to material from the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board Claim before the Waitangi Tribunal which is held in Waruwarutū is a community space which holds the Ngā Pounamu Māori collection, a collection with special emphasis on Te Ao Māori. It is located on Tuakiri | Identity, Level 2, Tūranga. Material indexed includes: iwi, hapū, marae, individual people, organisations, places and events.
- The Ngai Tahu Report, 1991 - Definitive account from the Waitangi Tribunal. Has summary of grievances, findings and recommendations. Useful list of contents and maps.
- Te Whakataunga: Celebrating Te Kerēme - the Ngāi Tahu Claim Information from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
- Ngāi Tahu settlement information including a Claim History Overview.
- The Treaty of Waitangi and the Ngāi Tahu claim: a summary Harry Evison
- Mana Whakatipu: Ngāi Tahu leader Mark Solomon on leadership and life Mark Solomon with Mark Revington
- A long time coming: The story of Ngāi Tahu's treaty settlement negotiations with the Crown Martin Fisher
- The Ngāi Tahu Deeds: A Window on New Zealand history Harry Evison
- Read our page Te Kerēme – Ngāi Tahu Land claim