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Waikato River Deed of Settlement

Date: 17 December 2009
Sub Category:Deed of Settlement (New Zealand)
Place:North Island
State/Country:Aotearoa - New Zealand
Located in New Zealand's North Island, the Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand. It runs for 425 kilometers from the eastern slopes of Mount Ruapehu and empties into the Tasman Sea south of Auckland. The Crown has acknowledged in the Deed that for the Waikato, the Waikato River means 'the Waikato River from Te Taheke Hukahuka to the mouth and includes its waters, banks and beds (and all minerals under them) and its streams, waterways, tributaries, lakes, aquatic fisheries, vegetation and floodplains as well as its metaphysical being.'
Subject Matter:Land Management | Management / Administration | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests | Water
Summary Information:
The Waikato-Tainui Waikato River Deed of Settlement ('the Settlement' or 'the Deed') dated 17 December 2009 is the final settlement of all Waikato-Tainui's historical claims against the Crown relating to the Waikato River. The Deed records the commitment of the Crown and Waikato-Tainui to enter a new era of co-management over the Waikato River with the overarching purpose being to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for future generations. The Deed also aims to enhance the relationship between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui and to recognise and sustain the special relationship Waikato-Tainui have with the Waikato River.

As set out in the Deed, the following redress is provided to the Waikato-Tainui:

  • the acknowledgments of the Crown;

  • the commitment to co-management;

  • the recognition of the statement of significance of the Waikato River to Waikato-Tainui;

  • the legislative recognition of the vision and strategy for the Waikato River;

  • the co-governance arrangements, including the establishment of the Waikato River Authority;

  • the co-management arrangements, including the enhanced participation of Waikato-Tainui, through joint management agreements, in processes under the Resource Management Act, the establishment of an integrated river management plan and the recognition of the Waikato-Tainui environmental plan;

  • the recognition of the customary activities of Waikato-Tainui in relation to the Waikato River;

  • the Kiingitanga Accord;

  • the entry by the Ministers and officials of the Crown into the other accords with Waikato-Tainui; and

  • the commitments relating to lands and certain other assets.

  • A Deed of Settlement is reached once a claim has been registered with the Waitangi Tribunal and has completed the settlement process of negotiation, ratification and execution, and in most circumstances, accompanied by a statute implementing the settlement. For more detailed information, see 'Deed of Settlement' below.
    Detailed Information:

    The Waikato River claim arose from the Crown's raupatu (confiscation) in the 1860s which denied the rights and interests of Waikato-Tainui in the Waikato River. In 1995, a deed of settlement was reached in relation to the Raupatu claims of the Waikato-Tainui but expressly excluded the claims of the Waikato Tainui in relation to the Waikato River.

    The Waikato-Tainui has a special historical and spiritual relationship with the Waikato River. This relationship lies at the heart of the Waikato-Tainui's spiritual and physical wellbeing, and tribal identity and culture. The Waikato-Tainui have a deeply felt obligation to protect the River for future generations.

    Statements of senior Kiingitanga spokesmen and esteemed kuia are set out in the Deed to illustrate the importance of the Waikato River to the Waikato-Tainui.

    The late kaumaatua Kamira Henry Haggie describes the River as:

    'a being, a mother, complete and whole body comprising the water, the bed and the banks from its source to the sea. The life of the River and thus of the tribe is in its intactness - no limb struck from its body or the head separate from the heart.'

    In 1975, Robert Te Kotahi Mahuta, who led the Kiingitanga search for justice, described the relationship as follows:

    The River belongs to us just as we belong to the River. The Waikato tribe and the River are inseparable. It is a gift left to us by our ancestors and we believe we have a duty to protect that gift for future generations.

    The Waikato River is also of national importance for its contribution to New Zealand's social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being.

    By deed of settlement dated 22 August 2008, the Crown and the Waikato-Tainui reached an agreement in relation to the Waikato River with the overarching purpose to 'restore and protect the health and well-being of the river for future generations.' The deed provided a $210 million clean up fund and co-governance arrangements in relation to the River.

    However in 2009, the Crown requested to review the arrangements made in the 2008 deed to assess whether more effective and economically efficient arrangements could be made to reach the stated objectives and purpose of the settlement. In response to the recommendations of an independent panel and in spirit of good faith, the Waikato-Tainui agreed to re-negotiate the arrangements. The revised deed streamlines the co-governance arrangement and retains the clean-up fund. The Deed superseded the 2008 deed but the Kiingitanga Accord signed between the Crown and the Waikato-Tainui on 22 August 2008 remains in full force.

    Summary of Redress

    Statement of significance of the Waikato River to Waikato-Tainui

    Recognized by the Crown, the Deed includes a statement of significance in both English and Maori languages which will be set out in the settlement legislation.

    The statement explains how the respect te mana o te awa (the spiritual authority, protective power and prestige of the Waikato River) is at the heart of the relationship between the tribe and the River. It gave them their name and thus is a source of tribal identity and sustains the people physically and spiritually.
    The River is a tupuna (ancestor) of Waikato-Tainui.

    The relationship between the Waikato-Tainui and the River gives rise to the Waikaito-Tainui responsibility to protect and ensure the well-being of the river.

    The key aspects of the new arrangements are as follows:

  • a vision and strategy document which will have special and unique legislative status as the primary direction-setting document for the river;

  • a single co-governance entity; and

  • joint management agreements

  • Historical

    The Crown acknowledgments relating to:

  • The Crown's Raupatu (invasion and war and subsequent confiscation of Waikato Lands) in 1963 in spite of the guarantee in the Treaty of Waitangi to the 'the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries ..';

  • The pollution and deterioration of the health and well-being of the Waikato River during crown authority over the River and the exclusion of the Waikato-Taimui from decision making relating to the River;

  • The denial of the rights and interests, values and believes of the Waikato-Tainui in relation to the River and the denial of any authority or control to meet their obligations to protect the River;

  • The long search for justice of the Waikato-Tainui in relation to the Waikato River and their continued relationship and desire to protect the River

  • Legislative recognition of the vision and strategy for the Waikato River

    The preceding 2008 deed established the Guardians Establishment Committed (GEC) who developed the vision and strategy for the Waikato River.
    The vision and strategy as approved by the Crown and Waikato-Tainui is set out in part 1 of the schedule to the Deed.

    The vision and strategy will be recognized by statute and will be:
  • Included in the settlement legislation;

  • The primary direction setting document for the Waikato River;

  • form part of the Waikato Regional Policy Statement;

  • a statements of general policy under the Conservation Act 1987 and Acts in Schedule 1 of that Act. This will require that a conservation management plan or a conservation management strategy made under the Acts listed be consistent with the vision and strategy; and

  • Obligation to have particular regard to vision and strategy when exercising powers in relation to the river under various legislation.

  • Waikato River Authority

    The settlement legislation will provide that a statutory body called the Waikato River Authority. Crown and the Waikato-Tainui will be equally represented in Waikato River Authority with one Crown member nominated by Environment Waikato and one nominated by relevant territorial authorities.

    Its purpose will be to:

  • provide direction through the vision and strategy to achieve the restoration and protection of the health and well-being of the Waikato River for future generations;

  • promote an integrated, holistic and co-ordinated approach to the implementation of the vision and strategy and the management of the Waikato River; and

  • fund rehabilitation initiatives for the Waikato River in its role as trustee for the Waikato River Clean-Up Trust.

  • Co-management Arrangements

    The Co-management arrangements include:

  • the Waikato-Tainui environmental plan;

  • enhanced participation of the Waikato Raupatu River Trust through joint management agreements;

  • the integrated river management plan; and

  • provisions for the issuing of regulations relating to fisheries and other matters managed under conservation legislation.

  • Recognition of Customary Activities and Cultural Harvest

    The settlement legislation will provide that members of the Waikato-Tainui may carry out certain customary activities on the Waikato River. A list of authorized customary activities is included in part 7 of the schedule of this deed.

    The settlement legislation will also permit the Waikato-Tainui to authorise iwi members to harvest flora material for cultural purposes in accordance with an agreed flora cultural harvest plan.

    Kiingitanga Accord

    Signed in 2008, the Kiingitanga accord between Waikato-Tainui and the Crown records the joint commitments of the parties to an enhanced relationship and new ear of co-management, to support integrated co management and to protect the integrity of the settlement

    The Accord includes commitments to:
  • develop and agree portfolio-specific accords with the Minister of Conservation, Fisheries, Land Information, Environment, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Local Government, Agriculture, Biosecurity, Energy and with the Commissioner of Crown Lands; and

  • explore accords between Waikato-Tainui and other Ministers and agencies after the deed is signed, and to support Waikato-Tainui to establish memoranda of understanding with councils and other relevant agencies.

  • The Crown's financial package

  • the Crown will make an up front contribution of $20 million to the Waikato Endowed Colleges Trust;

  • the Crown will provide $50 million as a fund for initiatives to restore and protect the relationship of Waikato-Tainui with the Waikato River (including its economic, social, cultural and spiritual relationships) and the protection and enhancement of significant sites, fisheries, flora and fauna (in the lower reaches of the Waikato River). This fund and the endowment were provided for in the 2008 settlement; and

  • the Crown will provide $1 million per year for 30 years to fund the Waikato-Tainui's participation in the co-governance processes in this settlement.

  • Related Entries

  • Treaty of Waitangi
  • Waikato-Tainui Deed of Settlement
  • Maniapoto Deed in relation to Co-governance and Co-management of the Waipa River
  • Organisation
  • New Zealand Government - Signatory
  • People
  • Waikato-Tainui People - Signatory

  • Glossary

    Deed of Settlement (New Zealand) | Iwi (Aotearoa/New Zealand) | Maori People (Aotearoa/New Zealand) | Party to a Deed of Settlement (New Zealand) | Settlement Legislation (New Zealand)

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