If you look at a map of the North Island, you can see Lake Taupō right in the middle, and just to the north-west is a town called Te Kūiti. Te Kūiti is the home of a Māori tribe called Ngāti Maniopoto. Like most Māori tribes in New Zealand, Ngāti Maniopoto lost a lot during British colonisation. They were forced to sell important land cheaply, and decisions made by the government were often damaging for Māori people.
For 30 years, Ngāti Maniopoto have been talking with the government about what they need to do to make this right. They did this through a special court called the Waitangi Tribunal. The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 to help the government to make amends for damage done by colonisation. It uses our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, to make decisions about what should happen.
In 2021 the government and Ngāti Maniopoto finally agreed on a solution. Money would be paid to the tribe as compensation, and some very special land would be given back to them. In the future, when nearby land owned by the government is being sold, Ngāti Maniopoto would be given the first choice to buy it. In addition, the government agreed to formally apologise to the tribe, and agreed that in the future, they would consult with Ngāti Maniopoto about decisions that would affect them.
All of this has been agreed on, but the agreement was made in 2021 when we were all in lockdown because of covid, so the Prime Minister was unable to travel to Te Kūiti to make a formal apology.
On Sunday the 4th of December, the Prime Minister was finally able to go to the Marae in Te Kūiti to meet with the tribe and offer a formal apology from the government for past wrong-doings. It was presented to the tribe as a framed document, and the tribe was very happy to receive it. They gave the Prime Minister a special gift to take back to Wellington. It was a Māori spear, called a taiaha. Because it is a very special one, it will be returned to the tribe in five years’ time.
Apology: the things you say when you apologise, a noun for the act of apologising
Apologise: to say sorry
Compensation: something you give or do in order to pay for harm done
Tribe: a large community
Colonisation: the act of making one country serve another country
Founding document: a document that defines a country or organisation