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Source: New Zealand Governor General

E nga mana, e nga reo, Ngāti Haamua, Rangitāne whanui,

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.

He ra whakahirahira tenei, mo matou te Karauna, me koutou te iwi.

He kaupapa nui, no reira tēnā tatou mo tēnā.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.

I specifically acknowledge

Lyn Paterson Mayor of Masterton,  Tracey Collis Mayor of Tararua and Alex Beijen Mayor of Sth Wairarapa.

Mavis Mullins, Chair of Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua;

Tiraumaera Te Tau, Chair of Rangitāne o Wairarapa;

Jason Kerehi, Chair of Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust and 

Bob Francis, Chair of the Pūkaha  Wildlife Centre

– tēnā koutou katoa.

To the people of Rangitāne – Thank you for your wonderful welcome.

It is a great pleasure to be with you on such a significant and emotional occasion.

David and I are delighted to be here to join in the celebrations to mark the return of Pūkaha from the Crown to the people of Rangitāne.

I am honoured to be here as the representative of the Queen of New Zealand.

And of course, as a Wairarapa resident, I have a special interest in your Treaty Settlement.

Getting to this day will not have been easy.  I know how arduous the treaty settlement process can be.

How it draws on every ounce of energy and commitment to undertake research, prepare for meetings and negotiate issues of such significance, representing your iwi and your tūpuna.

As  a past Crown Negotiator for treaty settlements in the Bay of Plenty area I know how fraught the process can be, especially where there are overlapping interests.

Your redress can never fully compensate for past treaty breaches.

What it does, is recognise that you, the people of Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua, have been heard and the issues you have raised have been acknowledged.

You have been recognised as iwi with your own identity.

This new chapter for Rangitāne  has offered some valuable opportunities to work together.

I understand that through the treaty settlement process a new relationship of co-operation and friendship has been forged between Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua.

That is a wonderful outcome and bodes well for your future.

And Pūkaha is yours once more.

You have every reason to feel proud of what has been achieved and to celebrate a successful conclusion to your negotiations.

At our Government House Garden reception on Waitangi Day, I spoke about kaitiakitanga and how protection of our natural environment resonates with our responsibilities as Treaty partners and global citizens.

We are all guardians of the land, and together, we share a responsibility to protect our wildlife and native forests.

I appreciate how significant Pūkaha is for you, considering it is the last remnant of the Seventy Mile Forest – the forest of Te Tapere Nui o Whatonga that stretched from Wairarapa to the Central Hawkes Bay.

It’s a taonga that reminds us of what has been lost; and it reminds us of a time when the natural landscape was not viewed as something valuable in itself, but rather as something to be exploited for short-term gain.

Today, Pūkaha wildlife reserve has great conservation importance for all of Aotearoa New Zealand and is a symbol of what can be regained.

It is back with Rangitāne where it belongs, but I understand that this will only be for a short time.

Rangitāne’s decision to gift Pūkaha  to New Zealand in a year’s time shows the very essence of kaitiakitanga – doing what is best for the land and the natural world.

I commend you for your generosity and foresight.

I also thank you for giving me the privilege of wearing this magnificent korowai.  

I am delighted to have the opportunity to feel the aroha that has been woven into it, before it is returned and gifted to Pūkaha by Rangitāne, to be displayed here.

On behalf of your fellow New Zealanders, I congratulate Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua.

I hope you enjoy your year of celebration and wish you all the best for your united post settlement future.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa