“The Crown repeatedly broke the promises it made leading to devastating loss of life and land, and social and economic deprivation.” Jacinda Ardern apologising on behalf of the Crown at Te Kuiti last week. (Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi)

A week ago, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, delivered the Crown apology to Ngāti Maniapoto at Te Kūiti Pā in Te Rohe Pōtae (the King Country).

The apology is part of the Maniapoto Claims Settlement Act that was passed into law in September 2022. The Deed of Settlement for the iwi, which was signed in November last year, includes financial and commercial redress of $165 million, and the right to purchase 42 properties, as well as properties at the former Tokonui Hospital site.

Here’s the full apology and summary of the historical background to the claims, excerpted from the Maniapoto Claims Settlement Act.


The Apology

To Ngāti Maniapoto me ōna hapū maha, to your tūpuna, your rangatira, your kaumātua, your tamariki and mokopuna, ki a koutou katoa o Te Whare o Te Nehenehenui, the Crown delivers this long overdue apology. Nō te Karauna te tino hē (the Crown was at great fault).

The Crown is truly sorry for its many breaches of te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles. The Crown especially apologises for failing to uphold Te Ōhākī Tapu, through which Ngāti Maniapoto had sought to establish a relationship with the Crown in which your mana motuhake would be respected. I takahia te mana o Te Ōhākī Tapu (the mana of the Ōhākī Tapu was transgressed).

The Crown profoundly regrets its horrific and needless acts of war and raupatu, which have caused you and your hapū inter-generational suffering. Instead of respecting your mana whakahaere, the Crown killed and injured your people, and pillaged your land and property. Nowhere did you fight with more courage and tenacity than at the battle of Ōrākau. However, you were labelled as “rebels” by the Crown and left to care for the many refugees seeking your shelter. Kei te nui te aroha (Great was your generosity).

Following the wars, you established an aukati or puru to protect your mana motuhake. The Crown regrets that, instead of respecting you, it placed a kapua taimaha, a heavy cloud of pressure, upon Ngāti Maniapoto to induce your people to open up your lands to Te Ara-o-Tūrongo, part of the North Island Main Trunk railway line, and European settlement. Despite the Crown’s hara or wrongdoings, you wanted to plant a tree of goodwill, tētahi rākau pai. You were willing to trust the Crown and entered into Te Ōhākī Tapu. I whakapono koutou ki ngā kī tapu a te Karauna (You trusted the Crown’s solemn words).

The Crown regrets that it quickly disregarded the solemn promises in Te Ōhākī Tapu it had made to you and sincerely apologises for breaching them. Instead of respecting your mana whakahaere, the Crown prevented you from managing your lands as you saw fit. The Crown promoted native land laws that led to the award of your tribal lands to individuals and aggressively acquired huge areas of your rohe. I rarara ngā ringaringa raweke a te Karauna (The meddling hands of the Crown spread out).

The Crown apologises for the devastating long-term prejudice its acts, omissions and violations of Te Ōhākī Tapu and te Tiriti have caused you. Ngāti Maniapoto did not receive the economic benefits from Te Ōhākī Tapu that the Crown had led you to expect. As a result, your hapū and whānau have faced significant socio-economic deprivation and lived in worse conditions than non-Māori. You were prevented from reaching your full social and economic potential and had to fight to maintain your Maniapoto identity and language. I rawa kore a Ngāti Maniapoto, I whara nui tō reo me ō tikanga (Ngāti Maniapoto were impoverished and your language and customs greatly affected).

The Crown broke your trust and the whakaoati made to your tūpuna. The Crown now seeks to make amends for the wrongs it has committed against you. He rapu murunga hara tēnei (this is to seek atonement). The Crown looks forward to the future and forging a renewed and enduring partnership with Ngāti Maniapoto in accordance with the spirit of Te Ōhākī Tapu and based on te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles. The Crown commits to working with you in good faith to revitalise and rebuild Ngāti Maniapoto me ōna hapū maha. In the words of your great rangatira Wahanui:

Hanga paitia tatou kia piri ai ki te piringa pono.

Let us conduct ourselves in a proper way so that we may be bound together by a bond of faith.

The PM at the Crown apology to Ngāti Maniapoto last Sunday (Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabaz)

The History

Summary of historical account

In 1840, Ngāti Maniapoto rangatira signed te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi. They represented a strong, independent iwi with expanding trade connections among the growing Pākehā population. In the 1850s, Ngāti Maniapoto became committed supporters of the Kīngitanga. Maniapoto took up arms in its defence in 1863 when Crown forces invaded the Waikato and also had previously sent forces to fighting in Taranaki.

Under the leadership of Rewi Maniapoto and others Ngāti Maniapoto fought Crown troops in several engagements, including at Meremere, Pāterangi and Ōrākau. Ngāti Maniapoto people were also present at the unfortified village of Rangiaowhia when Crown forces attacked and non-combatants were killed.

After Ōrākau, Ngāti Maniapoto were forced to withdraw across the Pūniu River. Many Ngāti Maniapoto lives were lost during the conflict and the Crown confiscated land at the edge of their rohe. Despite these hardships, Ngāti Maniapoto welcomed into their rohe those who had been displaced by the conflict and extensive confiscation in Waikato and Taranaki, including King Tāwhiao. This put significant strain on their resources.

After the war, Ngāti Maniapoto established an aukati around their territory to preserve their rangatiratanga and mana motuhake over their remaining land. No Pākehā could pass into these lands without permission. During this time, rangatira continued to seek the Crown’s recognition of their authority over their land.

Between 1883 and 1885, the Crown and Ngāti Maniapoto negotiated Te Ōhākī Tapu. This was a series of agreements and assurances through which Ngāti Maniapoto sought Crown recognition of their mana whakahaere over their lands and peoples, and in return agreed to lift the aukati and allow the construction of Te Ara-o-Tūrongo (part of the North Island Main Trunk railway line) to proceed through their territory.

Following the survey of the North Island Main Trunk railway line, the Native Land Court began to hold hearings in Te Rohe Pōtae. Ngāti Maniapoto resisted and then strove to influence court processes while the court converted their tribal territory into individualised land holdings. In 1890, the Crown began to purchase these individual interests. The Crown’s aggressive purchasing tactics eventually overcame the opposition of many Ngāti Maniapoto to land sales.

In 1904, Te Kawenata o Ngāti Maniapoto, a document which emphasised tribal unity based on the preservation of their Māoritanga and Ngāti Maniapoto rangatiratanga, was signed. Ngāti Maniapoto entered the twentieth century with the same determination to preserve their authority that had marked their previous engagement with the Crown.

Ngāti Maniapoto tried to develop their economy and what land they had managed to retain. However, individualisation of land tenure and statutory provisions for the administration of Māori land in the twentieth century made this difficult. Despite purchasing large tracts of land, the Crown compulsorily took significant areas for public works, including the Tokanui Mental Hospital and Waikeria Prison. By 1935, only 24 percent of land in Te Rohe Pōtae remained in Māori ownership. The New Zealand economy has benefited greatly from the exploitation of resources in the Ngāti Maniapoto rohe, which has suffered much environmental damage.

Since 1840, Crown acts and omissions have had a severe impact on the social and economic well-being of the iwi as well as their tribal identity. In the face of this, Ngāti Maniapoto have persistently called for the maintenance and recognition of their rangatiratanga and mana whakahaere, guaranteed to them by te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Ōhākī Tapu.

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