The Tūhoe Governance group Te Uru Taumatua has received a Prime Ministers award for Crown Māori relationships. The Public Sector Excellence Awards celebrate performance and innovative thinking in New Zealand's public sector.
Te Urewera, The Department of Conservation and Tūhoe partnership took out two awards including the Crown-Māori relationship and the Supreme awards. This is the first time a Māori organization has won the supreme award at IPANZ.
Chief negotiator for Tūhoe, Tamati Kruger say “We're very happy. This is a big surprise to us, we didn't think that we would receive this honour tonight but we're very happy for The Department of Conservation, Ngati Tūhoe and Te Urewera.”
Deputy Director General at Department of Conservation says that working through the process of joining forces was a big part of putting Tūhoe back in charge of their own land or re-connecting them to their land. This was a land actually that DOC people loved as well so for them to take a step back was very difficult. Equally for Tūhoe to step up after being alienated from the land for years was also very difficult.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Tūhoe implemented groundbreaking new Treaty settlement legislation, which granted Te Urewera legal personhood. This was a first for New Zealand and set a new precedent for land rights and conservation around the world.
Kruger says that this is a big thing for Maori. For all tribes. “We've seen the work of Māori blossom through land right issues and we've seen that Māori are looking for the right way to let go of the issues of the past.”
“All over the world people are taking examples from the work that Maori have done, so to the tribes across New Zealand, people are seeing the importance of our work and are following suit to look into their own settlements for their own people.”
DOC says while they celebrate the milestones work continues.