About the Trust
Paul Morgan ~ Chairman
Origins of Nga-ti Ra-rua A-tiawa Iwi Trust
The Nga-ti Ra-rua A-tiawa Iwi Trust was formed via the Nga-ti Ra-rua A-tiawa Iwi Trust Empowering Act 1993.
This legislative action was the culmination of more than 140 years of complaint and grievance by the original iwi owners and their successors over the alienation of 918 acres of their Native Reserve lands in the Motueka district through Governor Grey's Crown Grants of mid-1853 to Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, head of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa.
A few months later, just prior to his departure overseas in December 1853, Selwyn devolved the administration and management of the grant lands in Motueka to three trustees, being Dr J D Greenwood of Motueka, Major Richmond (Superintendent of Nelson) and Archdeacon R B Paul of Nelson.
The original trusteeship system continued until 1859 when it was replaced at the first General Synod of the Church, at which Selwyn conveyed the responsibility for the appointment of Trustees of all Church lands to a Board of Appointment, as required by the Religious and Charitable Trusts Act 1856.
The following year, the responsibility passed to the recently appointed Bishop Hobhouse of Nelson; thereafter the Nelson Diocese administered the estates and assets conveyed to it via a separate trust board, the Whakarewa School Trust Board. A convention was shortly established whereby members of the Whakarewa School Trust Board were appointed by the Standing Committee of the Nelson Diocesan Trust Board; the Bishop of Nelson was usually appointed as Chairman of the Trust.
The alienation of our lands to the Church was fiercely contested by the owners of the day, and their petition to the Nelson Provincial Council immediately following Grey's actions was sympathetically received.
The Council's initial response was to challenge the legality of the grants via a writ of scire facies, but on legal advice, it settled for a strongly worded memorandum to the Governor protesting his actions.
Protests from the original Ma-ori owners and their descendants via submissions, petitions, objections, deputations and other avenues continuted unabated from that time, and at least three major investigations resulted.
- Commissions of Enquiry were held in 1869 and 1905 (the latter was a Royal Commission
- A special investigation and report was compiled by Alexander Mackay in 1888. Unfortunately for the Ma-ori claimants, none of these investigators has the authority to rule on the matter of ownership of the land titles in question.
The Whakarewa School Trust Board has had a chequered history as it has attempted to maintain its obligations under the terms of Grey's grants and trust deeds. its early attempts to operate as a residential industrial/agricultural school went through cycles of success and failure.
For a long period, it operated as a residential home for orphans and/or children from adverse circumstances, and in its later years (late 1970's), the Home was leased to the Nelson Hospital Board for the residential care of severely handicapped patients.
The proposals for restructuring of the Whakarewa Trust's activities in the early 1980's were initiated by the withdrawal of the Nelson Hospital Board from its use of the Trust's Homestead Blocks.
This resulted in a resurgence of protest by the Nga-ti Ra-rua Council. This group adopted the arguments of their ancestors that the Trust had again failed, and in accordance with an Iwi view held ever since the 1853 alienation, the assets of the Trust should now be returned to descendants of the original owners.
Support from a largely pakeha group, Race Collective, Pan Tribal entity, Te Runanganui o Te Tau Ihu and the Editor, David Mitchell of the Nelson Evening Mail also assisted with the kaupapa.
The amendments to the Treaty of Waitangi Act to permit the examination of grievances dating back to 1840 saw another renewal of effort to secure the return of the lands to the tribes.
The claimants intended to place the issue before the Waitangi Tribunal in 1988 and 1989, and claim documents and preliminary reports were filed to indicate the scope of the claim which would be brought.
Concurrently, submissions and deputations to the Church authorities (Bishops, Diocesan Trust Board, Diocesan Standing Committee, Diocesan Synod, General Synod, etc) were presented repeatedly.
By the late 1990's, most church authorities had come to accept the validity and justice of the iwi claims, and the Nelson Diocesan Synod eventually acknowledged the breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi which were implicit in Grey's unilateral actions, and agreed to negotiate the return of the Whakarewa Estates to the rightful claimants.
Accordingly, the Hon Doug Kidd sponsored a Private Members Bill to transfer Whakarewa assets to a body of representatives of the original owners.
The Nga-ti Ra-rua A-tiawa Iwi Trust Empowering Act 1993 created the Nga-ti Ra-rua A-tiawa Iwi Trust.
This resulted in the demise of its predecessor, the Whakarewa School Trust and its Board.