Momentous milestone realised
The signing was an important milestone for Dame Te Atairangikaahu as the descendant of Kiingitanga leaders who had endeavoured to overcome more than 130 years of marginalisation.
Her face was wreathed in smiles as she welcomed and greeted guests
In a rare television interview, she acknowledged how the aspirations of her tuupuna had been realised. She also paid tribute to the strength of her brother, the loyalty of her elders and members of the Tainui Maaori Trust Board, and the bravery of the government.
But she was also mindful of what lay ahead, cautioning her people about the pathway before them.
“Although these treasures have been returned there are other challenges ahead.
But we should be happy that the land that has caused much heartache has been returned.”
Former broadcaster and politician Tukoroirangi Morgan was the master of ceremonies at Tuurangawaewae marae on this historic day. He remembers both the signing and the return of Korotangi vividly.
“It brought to an end a long journey of sacrifice, pain and torment, a reminder of the treachery of the Crown and their deep insatiable lust for our land,” says Morgan.
Graham was also proud of the tribe’s achievement and surprised at how emotional he felt.
“I drove back to Auckland alone after the hui and remember looking up at Taupiri and suddenly tears were just pouring down. I thought about the wonderful friendships I had made with people like Bob and the Queen, how we had all worked so hard over the years … and it was over. It was finally over.”
National MP Hon Simon Upton, Dame Te Atairangikaahu and Prime Minister Hon. Jim Bolger all smiles after the landmark signing. Credit – Tai Moana.