Rau rangatira mā, o te paepae tapu, o ngā iwi o Tauranga Moana; mihi mai, whakatau mai. Mihi mai ki tā māua hui tuatahi, hei Māngai mo Kuini Irihapeti, ki waenga i a koutou. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, Kaumatua and members of the Maungatapu Marae, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your welcome. I also acknowledge the greetings you have extended as I join you for the first time, as representative of Queen Elizabeth. I reciprocate your welcome and wish good health to all who are gathered here.
Thank you for receiving me and my party onto Maungatapu Marae. As I look across to the sacred mountain, Mauao, a distinctive landmark to this part of the Bay of Plenty, I am mindful that our welcome is accorded both as a representative of Her Majesty the Queen of New Zealand and also of all New Zealanders. I am also mindful that the last time I was here was to attend the tangi of my friend and Army mate Rik Keno.
Over the next few days I will be meeting many different people from a variety of organisations in the Western Bay of Plenty. This region contributes across many facets to the prosperity of our country, through industry, trade & business, education, and tourism. It is also a beautiful part of our country.
From a personal perspective, I’m especially honoured to be welcomed to Maungatapu Marae as te Mangai a Kuini Irihapeti.
As a descendant of Te Arawa waka and specifically Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Tākitimu waka and Ngāti Kahungunu my association with this part of Aotearoa-New Zealand is quite clear-cut. Te Arawa made its first landfall near here. Takitimu’s captain, Tamatea Arikinui, climbed to the summit of Mauao to offer karakia and to bury there the mauri of his people. However, I am also a descendent of immigrants who arrived from Britain on the sailing ship, Katherine Stewart Forbes, in 1841.
With that now laid before you, and the nature of my visit today as the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, I want to speak briefly on Te Tiriti o Waitangi—The Treaty of Waitangi.
This year I celebrated, for the first time, Waitangi Day as Governor-General. In my Waitangi Day address I said that Waitangi Day represents different things to different people.
For some it is a day of reflection, a time to look back at the knotty roots of our nation’s history, to recall our achievements and our triumphs, and to recommit ourselves to reconciling the challenges of our history. For others, it is a day of debate, when some discuss the significance of the Treaty and its evolving principles in the life of a modern and independent democracy.
However, first and foremost the 6th of February is our national day. And as our national day, it is a time when we celebrate all that it means to be a New Zealander and to take pride in the things that we have achieved in this beautiful land that we call home.
When Te Tiriti o Waitangi—The Treaty of Waitangi—was signed in 1840 William Hobson did so in the name of Queen Victoria, our Queen Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother. Te Tiriti—The Treaty was also signed on the 6 February by more than 40 rangatira in Northland. Later that year 47 signatures were added from Tauranga, and the rest of the Bay of Plenty region.
Transgressions were committed. Iwi lost their land and suffered great economic, social and cultural hardship, and these things need to be and are being addressed, especially in this rohe.
In that regard, in 2008 the Mauao Historic Reserve Vesting Act was passed in Parliament, and with it the ownership of Mount Maunganui transferred from the Crown, back to Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāi Te Rangi, and Ngāti Ranginui. In December last year the Crown signed a Statement of Position and Intent with the Tauranga Moana Iwi collective to provide for the collective negotiations of settlement redress where all iwi have an interest.
The process of negotiations with the Crown aims to achieve genuine acknowledgement and reconciliation, to resolve Treaty grievances and build comprehensive and durable settlements. It is a process that holds the promise of reconciling the past and building a new future for you, your tamariki and your mokopuna. It is a therapeutic notion that I put before you today, and I trust your negotiations will go well.
I am reminded of the proverb, which speaks of perseverance and determination. It is on this note that I will close.
He nui maunga e kore e taea te whakaneke, he nui ngaru moana mā te ihu o te waka e wāhi. A great mountain cannot be moved, a giant wave is broken by the canoe’s prow. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.