Thursday, 26 June 2008

New Zealand gives Maori tribes forest in largest-ever settlement

WELLINGTON: Seven indigenous Maori tribes on Wednesday signed New Zealand's largest-ever settlement over grievances arising from the 19th-century seizure of land, forests and fisheries during European settlement of the country.
The 420 million New Zealand dollar, or $317 million, Treelords agreement will transfer ownership of 435,000 acres, or 176,000 hectares, of plantation forest and forest rents from the central government to the central North Island tribes.
Hundreds of Maori, some wearing traditional feather cloaks, thronged the nation's Parliament in Wellington to witness the signing of the agreement. Chants, challenges and conch shell notes rang out during the ceremony; some wiped tears from their eyes during the speeches and signing.
The seven tribes include more than 100,000 people.
"It's a historic journey we are on," Prime Minister Helen Clark told the crowd. "We came into politics to address injustice and seek reconciliation. Thank you for walking that road with us on this historic day."

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