A settlement signed last week involving Gisborne tribe Rongowhakaata harks back to a tangled history of two fanatical religious cults, warfare, murder, and perpetual land wrangles. The government and Rongowhakaata tribe members signed the deal on September 30, 2011, at Whakato Marae, Manutuke, Gisborne, which includes financial redress of $22.24-million plus interest since 2008, and the transfer of five Crown-owned properties in the Gisborne region. I became interested in the history of the area while researching my book The First Colonist: Samuel Deighton 1821-1900
A statement from Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said that “the settlement addresses all of Rongowhakaata’s historical claims, and the Crown will apologise for a number of grievous treaty breaches. These include the unjustified use of military force in Turanga (the Gisborne area), the detention without trial of Rongowhakaata prisoners on the Chatham Islands, the summary executions of prisoners at Ngatapa in 1869, and the effective confiscation of a large area of Rongowhakaata land as well as Te Hau ki Tūranga” (a meeting house taken from Gisborne and on display at Te Papa).