This week saw a milestone for Māori people in the Hauraki region. The Ngāti Tamaoho people finally got justice with their treaty settlement becoming law.
Ngāti Tamaoho lands stretched from Awhitu on the West Coast to the Hunua Ranges and included wetlands in the Waikato and land in Central Auckland. However after a good partnership with the Pakeha in the early 1800s the Ngāti Tamaoho were later unfairly branded as rebels by the Crown. Their homes at Pokeno were burnt and their land was confiscated.
Now Ngāti Tamaoho have been given a settlement package that includes commercial and financial redress with a total value of $10.3 million, including the opportunity to purchase Crown properties.
And on another political issue, time is running out if you are still making your mind up on general role versus the Māori roll. You have only until August the 2nd to make your call.
Remember that there are seven Māori electorates in Aotearoa and they are held by Labour. This makes the Māori voice in our Coalition Government very powerful.
Looking at the figures closely last time around it was young people who led the charge to switch to the Māori roll but in the end 45 per cent of Māori opted to stay on the General Roll.
It has been a hard road for Māori to get the vote and to get Māori seats. In the first ever election in 1853 only males who had individual titles to land had the right to vote. Just a 100 Māori men would vote as most Māori owned land on a collective basis.
In the following decade some of the Pākeha politicians argued that it was vital to assimilate Māori into the political process to ensure a lasting peace. So in 1867 after a lot of jawboning Parliament agree to set up four electorates for our people. At the time, if you do the numbers, we were entitled to 14 or 16 seats but we got just 4.
That number of Māori seats remained static until 1993 when after MMP the number of Māori seats in Parliament was increased to five and then seven.
So it had been a long torturous road to get to the system we now have and we have to defend it and make it work.