These are the things which divide the Māoris from the Europeans. They feel that the promises made by the Europeans have not been fulfilled, while all that the Māori have promised has been fulfilled.

Hori Kerei Taiaroa, Member of the House of Representatives for Southern Māori, speaking in the New Zealand Parliament, 21 October 1878

In 1907 Ngāi Tahu representatives met at Arowhenua, South Canterbury to discuss the Ngāi Tahu claim with the Government

The Illustrated Press (Christchurch) 31 July 1907

Between 1848 and 1863, the Crown purchased more than 8 million hectares of land from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the largest iwi (tribe) of Te Waipounamu (New Zealand’s South Island). In return, Ngāi Tahu understood that the Crown would set aside large reserves, protect food-gathering areas and establish schools and hospitals in Māori communities.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Ngāi Tahu leaders voiced their grievances about the failure of the Crown to meet its obligations.

Ngāi Tahu and the Crown reached a milestone on 21 November 1997 when they signed the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement at Takahanga Marae in Kaikōura. The settlement addressed historic injustices and the Crown offered a formal apology for breaching the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Meeting at Arowhenua

In 1907, Ngāi Tahu representatives met at Arowhenua in South Canterbury to discuss Te Kerēme, the Ngāi Tahu claim, with the Government. At the time, it was the most representative gathering of South Island Māori ever held. Committees were formed to gather records and raise finances so they could take Te Kerēme to Parliament.

1923 53 672 eels cropped

Tuna (eels) hanging to dry, 1906

Canterbury Museum 1923.53.672

Mahinga Kai

An essential part of Ngāi Tahu cultural life is mahinga kai, the access to traditional food and natural resources as well as the places they are found. Traditional food gathered by Māori includes birds, eels, fish, sea mammals and other kai moana (seafood).