Treaty settlement recognizes ‘extinct’ people . . .
Indigenous Moriori and representatives of the Crown of New Zealand met today to sign a Deed of Settlement that will acknowledge historical wrongs. This is a marked change from more than a century of government policy that saw generations of children in New Zealand taught that the Moriori were “wiped out” by the surviving Māori because they were an “inferior” people. The long-awaited settlement will include an account of the Moriori’s history entrenched in law, a Crown apology, restoration of Moriori place names, and a C$15-million settlement.
A long time coming . . .
The Moriori are the Indigenous peoples of the Chatham Islands, some 800 km off New Zealand’s South Island. Armed Māori from the mainland invaded Moriori territories in 1835, reducing their population by a sixth and enslaving the rest. Moriori first petitioned the Crown for freedom and a return of their lands in 1862, but to little avail. The chief Moriori negotiator, Maui Solomon, said he sees today’s peacefully negotiated agreement as a point of pride because his people made a commitment over 600 years ago to “set aside warfare and killing.”
Processes of reconciliation still to come . . .
Both the Moriori and the Crown have expressed hope that the settlement will help right historical wrongs and end false myths about Moriori history. The agreement may also prove significant for Moriori-Māori relations: the issue of land claims has been a sticking point before the courts, as more than 97% of traditional Moriori islands’ land was previously awarded to Ngāti Mutunga, a Māori tribe. The agreement now gives Moriori presence on the islands legal standing in New Zealand law, offering all parties – Ngāti Mutunga, Moriori, and the Crown of New Zealand – a more even platform as future treaty negotiations progress.
- New Zealand Government: Deed of Settlement documents
- Radio New Zealand: Moriori Treaty Settlement to be signed: 'It's been a long wait'
- Waatea News: Long wait for Moriori settlement