October 2012 Māori Law Review

Crown offer to settle the historical claims of Ngāi Tūhoe


On 11 September 2012, Te Kotahi ā Tūhoe, the Ngāi Tūhoe negotiations team, accepted the Crown offer to settle the historical claims of Tūhoe.  The Crown offer includes financial, commercial and cultural redress valued at approximately $170 million; an historical account and Crown apology; the co-governance of Te Urewera lands, which will be vested in a new legal identity created by legislation; and mana motuhake in relation to the delivery of government and iwi services to Tūhoe communities.


Te Kotahi ā Tūhoe ("TKAT") were mandated in September 2007 to conduct Treaty negotiations on behalf of Tūhoe with the Crown.  In July 2008 Terms of Negotiation between the two parties were signed and negotiations began.  On 11 September 2012 TKAT accepted a Settlement Offer from the Crown.  This was the second offer the Crown made to TKAT, the first being rejected in April 2009.  The parties are now in the process of concluding a Deed of Settlement.

Discussion - Settlement offer

Historical Account and Crown Apology

Consistent with other Deeds of Settlement, the Crown has made a commitment to produce an historical account, acknowledgement of breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles and a Crown apology for those breaches

Te Urewera

Tūhoe have always maintained a strong connection with Te Urewera lands.  Te Urewera is seen as a forming an integral part of Tūhoe identity.

The settlement offer seeks to acknowledge that connection by vesting the land in the current Te Urewera National Park in a new legal identity.  This will be achieved through legislation which will recognise that no one owns Te Urewera.  Yet Te Urewera will be co-governed by Tūhoe and the Crown.

The vesting legislation will include key provisions from the National Parks Act 1980, including the protection of biodiversity, natural and historic  heritage, public input into management and public access into the future. This is to ensure Te Urewera maintains high levels of management despite losing its National Park status.

Tūhoe and the Crown both intend to seek recognition of Te Urewera as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

The Governance Board of Te Urewera will have equal numbers of Crown and Tūhoe appointees and will be chaired by a Tūhoe representative.  On advice from the New Zealand Conservation Authority, the Governance Board will approve a management plan for Te Urewera.  Tūhoe will have an increasing role in management as it builds capacity over time with the Department of Conservation maintaining its management role.

Mana Motuhake

Central to the Tūhoe and Crown negotiations is the fundamental Tūhoe principle of mana motuhake.  Mana motuhake can be generally described as self-determination although the phrase has many connotations and different meanings for different iwi.

For Tūhoe mana motuhake is such an intrinsic principle in their everyday being that it is inseparable from their Tūhoetanga, their identity.  Tūhoe inherited their obsession for mana motuhake from their eponymous ancestor, Tūhoe-Pōtiki and have always strove and will continue to strive for their independence and self-determination.[1]

The mana motuhake redress offered "…relates to improved relationships between Ngai Tūhoe and the Crown and the delivery of government and iwi services to Ngai Tūhoe communities.[2]

"Nā Korero Ranatira ā Tūhoe me te Karauna", a Tūhoe and Crown relationship agreement signed in 2011 provides the foundation for how the two parties will work together.  In the agreement Ngāi Tūhoe and the Crown resolve to work together for their "…mutual honour, dignity, advantage and progress."  The Crown acknowledges Tūhoe's mana motuhake and Tūhoe acknowledge the mana of the Crown.

Pursuant to this agreement a Social Services Management Plan (SMP) has been developed between Ngai Tūhoe and a high-level task force of the Ministry of Social Development.  The SMP is a non-legally binding document which represents an undertaking by the Ministries of Education, Social Development, and Business, Innovation and Employment to work with Tūhoe to improve the social circumstances of the Tūhoe people.  The immediate goal is that …"Tūhoe become well housed, in good health, with good educational opportunity and social support so that they may manage their own affairs to the maximum practical extent.[3]  This goal works towards the overarching principle of mana motuhake.

Financial, Commercial  and Cultural Redress

The Financial, Commercial and Cultural Redress offered by the Crown is valued at approximately $170 million.  This is inclusive of the Tūhoe share in the Central North Island forestry on-account settlement of 2008 which was approximately $60 million.

Where to from here

The Crown and Te Kotahi ā Tūhoe are aiming to agree to and sign a Deed of Settlement by the end of 2012.  This date is ambitious when considering the length of time it has taken for other iwi to progress from Agreement in Principle stage to Deed of Settlement stage.


[1] Te Urewera: Pre-publication Part I Waitangi Tribunal (2009) at 79.
[2] Press Release 12 September 2012
[3] Ngāi Tūhoe Service Management Plan – Pre-publication version/unsigned at 5.


Author: Te Rangimārie Williams

Te Rangimārie (Ngai Tūhoe) is a solicitor in the Resource Management and Environment Law, and Civil Litigation teams at Holland Beckett Lawyers in Tauranga. She completed her LLB and LLM at Victoria University of Wellington. Te Rangimārie's LLM thesis is entitled 'Te Mana Motuhake o Tūhoe' and focused on how Te Mana Motuhake o Tūhoe could be reflected in law in light of the recent Treaty settlements.