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Approximately 20 iwi (Maori tribes) have so far settled claims with the Crown for historical breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - the nation's foundation constitutional document. The settlements attempt to redress the wrongs of the past and enable iwi to independently facilitate their own social, cultural and economic development.
The opening of Mataatua Wharenui signifies the last act in the settlement accord between the New Zealand Government and Ngati Awa. The return of the house was an early milestone in the redress package that included an official Crown apology, commercial & financial reparation and recognition of the unique traditional, historical, cultural and spiritual associations Ngati Awa have with Crown owned sites within their tribal boundary.
Mataatua Wharenui was returned to Ngati Awa in 1996 as partial settlement of the tribe's historical claims. The Government also contributed $7 million towards the relocation and re-erection of Mataatua in Whakatane.
When Mataatua Wharenui opened in Whakatane in September 2011, it not only exclaimed the resilient strength, unity and mana of Ngati Awa but also stands as a vivid example of a successful post-settlement outcome and how positive futures can be built through the correction of past injustices.