With only a week to go before Christmas, it is an appropriate time to look back on the past year, and also consider all that we have to look forward to.

First, an acknowledgement of those who have passed away during the year – rātou kua ngaro ki te pō e moe, e moe, e moe. Kati. Te hunga mate ki te hunga mate, te hunga ora ki te hunga ora. Tēnā tātou katoa.

It has been a very busy, and significant, year for Ngāti Rangitihi. In just a few days, on Saturday 22 December, we will sign our Agreement in Principle with the Crown. The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little will be there representing the Crown, as well as MP for Waiariki Mr Tamati Coffey. Getting to this point in the negotiation process is a huge milestone for our people.

The AIP includes a commitment to include in the Deed of Settlement an agreed account of the historical relationship between the Crown and Ngāti Rangitihi, acknowledgement of the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi breaches, a formal apology from the Crown, and proposed cultural redress in the form of land being returned to Ngāti Rangitihi and place names being changed. The AIP also includes $4 million of financial and commercial redress, in addition to the $7 million of commercial redress the Iwi received in the 2008 Central North Island Forests Settlement.

The next step will be for us to negotiate the details of the settlement with the Crown. We hope to reach a draft Deed of Settlement in the coming year, and we will be working with all our whānau to ensure you have an opportunity to share your feedback before ratification.

Another highlight has been celebrating our first year of operations at Waimangu with whānau. Signs show the business there is strong, and while it is early days, we can see the opportunities for growth.

This year we have also been able to provide Wi-Fi in our Marae, community centre, office, and to eight homes with children in Matatā – and we are continuing to look at how we can increase this number over the coming year.

These are just a few of the highlights for Ngāti Rangitihi whānau this year. You can read about some more of our projects in this year’s Annual Report.

On behalf of all the Trustees, I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to our office team, our supportive whānau across Aotearoa and abroad, our negotiating team, and all uri of Ngāti Rangitihi. We appreciate all your support over the past year, and hope you get a well-deserved rest over the Christmas and New Year break. Ngā mihi o te wā me te Tau Hou.

I wish you all a very festive and safe holiday season, and hope that it is filled with some quality time with whānau. I look forward to connecting with you all next year.

Mauri ora!

Leith Comer

Read our full Newsletter here.