Despite 160 years of European settlement and some discriminatory government policies, the people of Te Tau Ihu (Nelson–Marlborough) have survived. The eight tribes of the area are now increasingly significant contributors to the regional economy.
A landmark event in Nelson was the creation of the Wakatū Incorporation in 1977. Surviving native reserve titles of Nelson City, Motueka and some Golden Bay lands were transferred to the incorporation. The capital value of the transferred land assets was approximately $11 million. The 1,211 hectares were in 771 titles, all but one ensnared in low-yielding leases with rights of renewal in perpetuity.
The eight tribes
After nearly 1,000 years of migration, conquest, and intermarriage there are eight mutually recognised tribes in Nelson–Marlborough today.
The Kurahaupō tribes are:
The Tainui tribes are:
The Taranaki tribes are:
Te Āti Awa.
Through the management of its lands on behalf of the shareholders, the Wakatū Incorporation increased its capital value to more than $140 million by the early 2000s. It has now diversified into commercial land acquisition, subdivision development, orcharding, agriculture, forestry, viticulture, fishing and marine farming – encompassing growing, harvesting and international marketing. With more than 600 employees in 2003, the Wakatū Incorporation can be considered a success story.
Ngāti Koata’s treaty settlement, valued at about $11.8 million, was signed on 21 December 2012..
Ngāti Rārua’s treaty settlement, dated 13 April 2013, was valued at about $11.8 million. It enabled Ngāti Rārua to purchase 10 Crown properties immediately and another nine within three years. The iwi gained an interest in about 12,000 hectares of former Crown forest land in Te Tai Ihu, and received about $7.75 million in accumulated rentals. Eight sites of significance were vested solely in Ngāti Rārua, and another seven jointly with other Te Tau Ihu iwi.
Ngāti Tama ki te Tau Ihu’s treaty settlement on 20 April 2013 was valued at about $12 million.. Two culturally significant sites, Kaka Point and Te Tai Tapu, were vested jointly in Ngāti Tama ki te Tau Ihu and other iwi in this region, then gifted back to the Crown. Four further sites were vested solely in Ngāti Tama ki te Tau Ihu.
Taking up the challenge
In recent years tribes of Nelson (and Marlborough) have established administrative structures to hold assets transferred from Treaty of Waitangi settlements and commercial purchases, to prepare formal submissions on local authority and state processes, and to represent the tribes in various forums.
Individual members now have access to educational scholarships, and bereaved families are assisted with funeral costs. Nelson tribes support communal activities such as restoration of marae and burial grounds, kōhanga reo (preschool language nests), health centres and training programmes, as well as many projects in the community at large.