The Waitangi Tribunal claim
In 1986 Hēnare Rakiihia Tau filed a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board. The claim identified Ngāi Tahu’s grievances about the land purchases. In 1991 the Waitangi Tribunal published its report, and followed up in 1992 with findings on the tribal claim to the fisheries. In 1993 the Waitangi Tribunal published the final report on the smaller claims to reserves.
The three reports became the basis of a negotiated settlement between Ngāi Tahu and the Crown. Sir Tīpene O’Regan led the negotiation process for Ngāi Tahu. To facilitate the expected settlement, the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Act was passed in 1996. This was the first New Zealand legislation to recognise a tribal group as a political entity. Two years later, the Ngaitahu Claims Settlement Act saw the matter resolved.
The Deed of Settlement signed with the Crown on 21 November 1997 included Ngāi Tahu’s right and opportunity to buy certain Crown assets, enabling the tribe to fund its social and cultural development. The financial value of the settlement was $170 million. Like the Tainui settlement signed two years earlier, it included a relativity clause enabling supplementary payments if future settlements with other tribes were large in comparison. The Ngāi Tahu settlement also included an apology from the Crown and opportunities for cultural redress.
In 2013 almost 55,000 people identified themselves as Ngāi Tahu. It was the fourth largest tribe in New Zealand, and had the largest territory of any tribe.
Ngāi Tahu marae today
One aspect of the cultural resurgence of Ngāi Tahu was the revival of the traditional marae. At Takahanga in Kaikōura and at Bluff new buildings have been constructed. Ōnuku, near Akaroa, acquired a new carved house. In Christchurch, the sub-tribe Ngāi Tūahuriri of Tuahiwi have assumed the mana of an urban marae, Rēhua. At Waihao, Arowhenua, Taumutu, Koukourarata, Tuahiwi and Mangamaunu existing buildings have been improved or extended. The Puketeraki people of Otago have replaced their original meeting house.