New Zealand agreed Friday to settle the biggest land claim ever filed by indigenous Maoris and to apologize 152 years after colonizers took over nearly half the country.
Beginning in 1844, the Ngai Tahu people lost 80 percent - 86 million acres - of South Island, one of New Zealand’s two main islands. The tribe was left in poverty and deprivation for generations, and estimates its overall losses at $13.8 billion.
Under the settlement, the Ngai Tahu people will receive a land and cash package worth $117 million and regain some traditional fishing rights.
The government has also agreed to officially recognize the original Maori names of 78 places on the island, along with their European names. The highest peak, the 12,349-foot Mount Cook, will also be known as Aoraki.
The settlement must be ratified by the 26,000 tribal members and approved by Parliament after elections Oct. 12.
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