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The Crown has signed an agreement in principle with Hokotehi Moriori Trust to settle the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Moriori, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson announced today.

Moriori is an imi/iwi whose ancestors were the first inhabitants of Rēkohu (the Chatham Islands). Moriori estimates that its population is approximately 3500.

“Moriori lived on Rēkohu/the Chatham Islands for hundreds of years,” Mr Finlayson said. “In 1835 two iwi originally from Taranaki migrated to Rēkohu/the Chatham Islands and enslaved Moriori. Following the annexation of the islands to New Zealand in 1842, the Crown failed to take appropriate action to end the enslavement, despite Moriori pleas for relief.

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct.

“Today’s agreement follows a year of intense negotiations and is a major milestone in the settlement of Treaty claims on the Chatham Islands. Moriori and Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri have identical areas of geographical interest and today’s agreement remains subject to addressing overlapping interests to the Crown’s satisfaction.”

The agreement includes a total value of financial and commercial redress of $18 million. It also outlines cultural redress including the transfer of certain Crown lands to Moriori and a co-management regime, which includes Ngāti Mutunga and the Department of Conservation, over Te Whānga Lagoon.

Negotiations towards a comprehensive deed of settlement will begin in the coming months.

A copy of the agreement in principle is available online at: www.govt.nz/treaty-settlement-documents/moriori/.

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