The Waitangi Tribunal released the final volume of the Te Urewera report this afternoon. It contains strong language and statements revealing the severe treatment of Te Urewera Māori throughout the 20th century as a result of the Crown’s breaches.
In a string of criticisms the document highlights areas where the Crown failed to protect the Te Urewera forest. It lists the ravaging of native birdlife by introduced species, the restrictions on local Māori in conservation management, unprotected wāhi tapu and confusion over river ownership.
It also questions whether or not Māori land should have been rated if it was unprofitable.
The document outlines the social and economic impacts on the Te Urewera people. Children were dependent on charity for food and clothing, families were forced to live in shacks and caves, and food shortages meant they had to eat rotten food.
Massive land confiscation causing poverty and job losses in the 1980’s resulted in many of the Te Urewera descendants being painfully separated from their ancestral lands.
The tribunal found that the poor social and economic standing of the people of Te Urewera in health, education, housing and wealth, was a large part of prejudice arising from the Crown’s many breaches of the Treaty.
The tribunal acknowledges that the Crown did provide aid and services to Te Urewera communities. But the tribunal found these were never near enough to counter what it calls the massive disadvantages holding back those communities.