(Above: Centre for Theology and Public Issues associate Dr Alistair Reese)

A University of Otago report is calling for an apology and reparation to iwi in the wider Tauranga area affected by the takeover of Te Papa land in the 19th century.

The 1333-acre peninsula known as Te Papa – part of which is now Tauranga’s town centre – was purchased in 1838 by the Church Missionary Society (CMS), who held it in trust until it was controversially gifted to the Crown in 1866.

The first steps towards the reparation process for Bay of Plenty groups affected by land alienation are underway between the Anglican Church and mana whenua from the Ngāi Tamarāwaho and Ngāti Tapu hapū.

In a newly released paper, Centre for Theology and Public Issues associate Dr Alistair Reese has called on the Anglican Church and the mission agencies connected to Te Papa to apologise for “their role in the alienation of Te Papa”.

Dr Reese says there are a number of opportunities to help reconcile Te Papa, but the first step is for the Anglican Church to make a public apology.

“This apology is not only representative in the context of their spiritual ancestors, but also a present apology and acknowledgement that the church has been silent for generations re the historic injustices,” he says.

He also calls for the return of some symbolic land to the two hapū, highlighting significant sections of land at the site of Ōtamataha Pa (which overlooks Tauranga’s harbour east towards the airport) as areas that could potentially be returned.

Dr Reese’s paper, Te Papa: Naboth’s Vineyard?, was commissioned by Te Kohinga and the Ōtamataha Trust (representatives of the two hapū) and is an executive summary of a 150-page report prepared as a discussion document. A separate edition has been transcribed into Te Reo Māori.

While CMS and the Tauranga City Council are currently in the first stage of the reparation process with hapū, Dr Reese says there will be plenty of interest at a wider level.

“This is going to be a test case for non-Crown entities, including churches and councils.”

Click here for a link to Dr Reese’s summary report.