Waitara Lands Taken Must Be Returned

This blog includes three Submissions to the Māori Affairs Select Committee on New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016 presented on November 18th at the Novotel New Plymouth. The Submissions are from Dr Leonie Pihama, Veronica Tawhai and Ngaropi Cameron.  We hope over the next few months to add more submissions here to update what is happening with the Pekapeka Block and Waitara Leaselands that were confiscated by the Colonial government in 1865.

Submission to Māori Affairs Select Committee on New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016

Associate Professor Leonie Pihama (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi)

Opening Statement

“E kore e pōuri tonu,
Waitara e mamae nei i te wā i mua a rā
e tū te hunga rīriki
me tōna raukura hei tohu ki te ao, hei!”

  1. I am a descendant of Ngāti Rāhiri hapū, Te Ātiawa, with whakapapa connections also to Ngā Māhanga a Tairi and Ngāti Māhanga.
  2. Our whānau have lived on the Pekapeka Block for over 50 years. Our whānau have paid lease on that whenua for 50 years. My father struggled to raise his whānau on our own lands while paying leasehold to those that confiscated the Pekapeka block.
  3. Our whānau have watched as sections within the Waitara Lands have been changed in status to Freehold without any knowledge of the hapū or iwi. Living on our lands, paying mortgage, rates and lease has been the experience of many hapū and the iwi of Te Ātiawa.
  4. The injustices have culminated in many generations of Te Ātiawa descendants living within a context of Historical Trauma and with the significant impacts of that trauma being experiences intergenerationally.
  5. In my work I am part of a Māori research group investigating Historical trauma and the impact on our people there is vast amounts of evidence that indicates that historical trauma events of colonisation create a context of wounding our people.
  6. Native healer and scholars Eduardo Duran and Bonnie Duran refer to this as a ‘soul wound’. Soul wounds that are not healed are passed through our whakapapa, they impact on every part of being Maori, of being Te Atiawa, they create a context where within te ira tangata the pain memories of our tupuna are passed intergenerationally. That is the impact on whanau in Waitara. That is what needs to be healed.
  7. The issue of what is happening with the Pekapeka block is not solely one of land ownership or economics, it is one of needing meaningful and enduring pathways of social justice to heal those soul wounds.
  8. Within this Bill and in the documentation provided by the Council the name ‘Pekapeka’ does not appear. The history of these lands are identified through the naming of the lands. The invisiblisation of the names of these lands is an act of selective memory which denies the true history of the land and marginalises the role of mana whenua in the discussions related to these lands.
  9. This process of not naming the whenua is a means by which the council can then present the ‘lease lands’ as if they are just any other block of land. But this is not just any other block. This is the Pekapeka block and the name is significant within our history.
  10. Referring to the Pekapeka block only as ‘Endowment’ lease-lands removes an understanding of the history of land theft, the acts of colonial oppression, the imposition of colonial rule, the impact of the associated historical trauma upon generations of Te Atiawa descendants.
  11. 11. It is my view as a researcher in this area is that this Bill will not only remove our ability as Te Atiawa to receive social justice, it will also further embed the pain of the historical spiritual and cultural wounds that our people carry as a result of the invasion of our lands and oppression of our peoples.
  12. As a political representative body for our people this Select Committee can take a key role in stopping this process and facilitating the return to a pathway of meaningful negotiations that will be about social justice and healing.

Comments on the Bill.

  1. In looking through the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill I am deeply concerned that this Bill removes any and all possibility of the Waitara lands being returned to the hapū and iwi of Te Ātiawa.
  2. This Bill effectively provides a process for the Waitara Lands to be fully privatised and deny any pathways for the return of the land through a Crown facilitated process. The hapū and iwi of Waitara have waited for justice for this confiscation of these lands for over 150 years.
  3. The current Treaty Settlement process has severely marginalised the voice of hapū within the Crown defined systems and Waitara is a clear example of the impact of that marginalisation.
  4. The hapū of Manukorihi and Otaraua have consistently voiced their aspirations for the return of the Pekapeka Block. This has been ignored throughout the Treaty Settlement process. This continues with this legislation process with the hapū of Manukorihi and Otaraua being rendered invisible within the Bill.
  5. Te Ātiawa Treaty Settlement Bill that is currently before Parliament has constructed a context where the Waitara Lands are to be negotiated separately with the New Plymouth District Council, leading to this New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill.
  6. The assumption underpinning this process is one of the lands being ‘owned’ by the Council. The land is in fact stolen property.
  7. The history of the Waitara Lands is clear; it was placed into the hands of the Council through colonial land confiscations. This is clearly stated in the Waitangi Tribunal report and reiterated in the opening of this Bill as follows:

The land was originally confiscated by the Crown from Waitara hapū in 1865 under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. Waitara was then surveyed and renamed Raleigh by the Crown.

The Te Atiawa Claims Settlement Bill, which is currently before the House of Representatives, contains an account of the historical relationship between Te Atiawa and the Crown. That Bill also contains factual acknowledgements and an apology from the Crown.

In 1876 the Crown vested land in the Waitara Harbour Board and the Raleigh Town Board for harbor improvement and municipal development. During the next 70 years, further land was vested in the Council’s predecessors for those purposes. (174-1)

  1. The 1876 vesting of lands in the Waitara Harbour Board and the Raleigh Town Board was undertaken in direct conflict with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and was an act of colonial oppression and denial of fundamental rights of hapū and iwi of Te Ātiawa. As such the lands must be returned to mana whenua in order to restore and honour the obligations of the Crown in relation to the Treaty.
  2. The Bill advocates for the transfer of a small amount of land to Te Kotahitanga, the Freeholding of the land and the establishment of a process for the profits of sale and other funds received in relation to the Waitara Lands to be distributed by a joint Board including the Council and Te Kotahitanga.
  3. It is my view that the transfer of Waitara Lease Lands to fee simple (Freehold) status for purchase by Leaseholders is in breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Such transfers move the whenua one step further from the descendants of the hapū of Te Ātiawa that hold mana whenua over the Waitara Lands.
  4. The privatisation of these lands by the Council, facilitated through this legislation, will be the final act of dispossession of the hapū and iwi of Waitara. This is a continuation of the acts of muru raupatu imposed upon the people of Taranaki.
  5. The Pekapeka block and other Waitara Lands have provided income for the various Borough, District and Regional Councils that have held local government control within Waitara since 1865. This income has been used by the Council in a range of ways to supposedly benefit ‘all’ community in Waitara.
  6. The Bill continues this generalised approach to the funds and profits taken from the Pekapeka Block with the proposal that income to be spent in ways to develop the entire township.
  7. It is clear that stolen Māori lands have provided a revenue stream for these Councils for over a hundred and fifty years. It is time to put a halt to the ongoing commodification and exploitation of hapū and iwi lands within Waitara.
  8. It is time to stop the ongoing perpetration of colonial dispossession of the hapū and iwi of Te Ātiawa.

The Pekapeka Block and other Waitara Lands held by the New Plymouth District Council are stolen lands. The general Waitara community have benefited for long enough at the detriment of the hapū and iwi of Waitara.

  1. This Bill continues the reproduction of the intergenerational denial of the hapū and Iwi within Waitara. This is embedded in the privatisation of the lands through the transfer of title to Fee Simple.

The ongoing exploitation of Waitara Lands is also embedded in the proposal that the expected $60million income stream will be used for the community as a whole. Again the wider community benefits from the theft and sale of hapū and iwi lands within Waitara.

  1. A clear example of the ongoing commodification and exploitation of hapū and Iwi of Te Ātiawa is highlighted in the Bill Part Four which states:

TRC has the right to half the net proceeds relating to 1940 Act land.

Clause 25 requires TRC to apply its share within Waitara, or for the benefit of the Waitara community or parts of it (eg public transport to New Plymouth).

If TRC cannot apply the money for those purposes it may accumulate it until those purposes arise.

Alternatively, TRC may include in its long term plan or annual plan a proposal to apply the amounts more generally within the region, but including benefit to the Waitara community.

TRC also has the option, if it wishes, to apply the money to meet the costs it has al- ready incurred in respect of the Lower Waitara River Flood Control Scheme. (p.13)

  1. It is noted that this section is premised upon the following mechanisms through which the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) took control of these lands:

The Waitara Harbour Board’s land holdings included foreshore, and grazing and town sections in the Waitara township. The Waitara Harbour Act 1940 vested the foreshore between the high and low water marks on the East and West Beaches in the New Plymouth Harbour Board (now Taranaki Regional Council (TRC)) as a foreshore en- dowment for harbour purposes. The balance of the land was vested in the Waitara Borough Council (now New Plymouth District Council) for municipal purposes subject to section 9 of the Act. The foreshore endowments reverted to the Crown under section 36 of the Local Legislation Act 1952. 
(p.2)

The assertion within the Bill that the TRC maintain its control over the lands and associated income is fundamentally flawed. As with the process with the NP District Council these lands are stolen and must be returned.

  1. The TRC should have no rights to continue to benefit through the extraction of financial and economic benefit from stolen lands.
  2. The TRC as with the NPDC maintain their assumed control over the lands and any income derived. The role of hapū and iwi as sovereign is marginalised throughout the Bill.

I riro whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai.

  1. The New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill raises significant and long-term issues for the hapū and iwi of Te Ātiawa. The Bill will remove any hope or realisation of the aspirations of our tupuna that is encapsulated in the saying ‘I riro whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai’. Many generations of those of us that have lived on the Pekapeka Block have waited patiently for the return of those lands to our people. We have watched the struggle and pain of those who have had to lease lands back from those that represent the colonial forces that confiscated the lands of our ancestors.
  1. It is critical that this Bill be halted and that the Crown, the Council and hapū and iwi representatives resume discussions in regards to the return of these lands to mana whenua.
  1. This can be done over a number of years and with careful planning to ensure that the relationships within the community are treated with respect.
  1. The return of the lands will also enable the hapū and iwi to work to heal both the lands and the people of Waitara. This will include a process of understanding the historical trauma experienced and the developing pathways for healing that is grounded within ensuring connectedness to the land, sea and river of Waitara.
  1. Please note that I wish to make an oral submission and request that the Select Committee hold the Public Hearing in Waitara at Owae W’aitara Marae.


New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill Submission to the Māori Affairs Select Committee  Veronica MH Tawhai, 7 November 2016

Without justice, there can be no peace. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Personal details

  1. My name is Veronica Makere Hupane Tawhai, and I am from the Ngati Porou, Ngati Uepohatu people on the East Coast of Te Ika a Maui (North Island) of Aotearoa. I also have ancestors who immigrated here from England and Ireland. During most of the year I live in the Manawatu, amongst the lands of the Rangitane, Ngati Kauwhata people.
  1. I currently work as a lecturer for Te Pūtahi a Toi (School of Māori Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North) and as a community educator for Te Ata Kura (Society for Conscientisation) in the field of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, indigenous rights, constitutional, electoral, political and citizenship education. In these roles I regularly share the story of Waitara and the Pekapeka block as an essential facet of the education every citizen in Aotearoa needs to be able to progress greater justice and peace for all who live here, in our every day lives and at all levels of society.
  2. I write this submission on behalf of myself and my two daughters Taumaihiroa and Whiutaikaha Tawhai-Porter who, through their father James Porter, belong to the Te Atiawa people, Manukorihi hapū, and the lands whose future is the subject of this bill.

Regarding the Crown’s responsibility of redress:

  1. Since at least 1989 and the establishment of the Principles for Crown Action on the Treaty of Waitangi the Crown has committed to a process of ‘redress’. This includes taking responsibility for ensuring the resolution of grievances “in the expectation that reconciliation can occur” (Office of the Prime Minister, New Zealand Government, 1989, p. 1).
  2. In the Bill’s explanatory note it is acknowledged that the Waitara lands were “confiscated by the Crown from Waitara hapū” (p. 1) under the 1863 New Zealand Settlements Act. Irrespective of the arrangements made for the land since that time by and between various Crown entities, including all further and subsequent legislation, for reconciliation to occur the lands must be returned to the hapū of Waitara from whom they were taken.
  3. That the suite of 1863 legislations under which these lands and others were confiscated have been widely recognised as breaches of fundamental human rights, the rights guaranteed to Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the rights of Māori as indigenous peoples as affirmed in the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, forms part of the wider context within which the benchmark for redress and reconciliation must be considered. These contexts reaffirm the right of Waitara hapū to the return of these lands as is their wish, as opposed to monies or other forms of compensation preferred by the Crown and/or other Crown entities such as the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC).

Regarding the stated purposes of the Bill:

  1. Given the Crown’s principle of redress and expectations regarding reconciliation, that the Bill’s purposes (Part 1, section 3) does not include return of these lands to Waitara hapū, the Bill should not proceed. This includes abandonment of the clauses relating to:
  • The right of the NPDC and/or other entities who are not Waitara hapū to sell or purchase Waitara lands;
  • The right of the NPDC and/or other entities who are not Waitara hapū to allocate rent and sale proceeds;
  • The right of NPDC and/or other entities who are not Waitara hapū to establish any Fund and Board for the purposes of administering any monies from Waitara lands.

Regarding the importance of redress and reconciliation:

  1. It is an oft-quoted principle that ‘without justice, there can be no peace’. As Crown redress and reconciliation is one basis upon which justice might be achieved, that we commit fully and whole-heartedly to these processes is essential to ensuring the return of peace for the people of Waitara, Te Atiawa, Māori, Pākehā/non-Māori and wider Aotearoa New Zealand.
  2. In my role as an educator, year after year I witness Māori and Pākehā/non-Māori participants’ horror, anger, deep sadness and in the case of Pākehā, guilt, in response to the history of our country, including what occurred at Waitara and with the Pekapeka block. That the Crown has a redress process in place that is committed to reconciliation is a foundation upon which participant’s feelings of hope and justice are anchored. That the Bill withholds justice to Waitara hapū is the withholding of this foundation upon which the wellbeing of New Zealanders regarding our history might be based.
  3. As a rāwaho/Māori from another iwi who stands in solidarity with Waitara hapū, that justice is achieved in the return of Waitara lands to Waitara hapū is important to the processes of healing being undertaken by and within other Māori communities nationwide. The withholding of justice from Waitara hapū threatens the hope that reconciliation for Māori and other New Zealanders throughout Aotearoa might be achieved.
  4. As a partner to a Waitara hapū man and mother of Waitara hapū children, the harm this Bill will cause personally to our whānau and the ongoing trauma that my whānau members will face should this Bill proceed weighs heavily on my heart.

Conclusions and recommendations:

  1. This proposed Bill in its current form would not only fail to meet the objectives of redress committed to by the Crown in its expectation of reconciliation, but will also cause further injury and itself constitute another grievance to be addressed in future, with all the strain and harm that the process of resolution itself brings.
  2. I therefore ask that the Committee recommend the Bill be abandoned in its entirety;
  3. I also ask the Committee recommend a Commission of Inquiry to investigate all dealings concerning the Waitara lands, including the more recent self sale-and-buys activities of the NPDC that are absent from this Bill’s historical note;
  4. I wish to present this submission in person, and ask that the Committee come to Waitara so oral submissions may be heard and considered on the lands in question.

Kia kaha tātau!


Submission: To Maori Affairs Select Committee regarding the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016.

Ngaropi Cameron, Director, Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Inc

4 November 2016

In summary I am asking the Select Committee to REJECT in its entirety the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016.

  1. My name is Ngaropi Cameron. Ngati Mutunga, Ngati Maru, Te Ātiawa and Taranaki are four of several Iwi I have whakapapa connections to.
  1. I am a member of the Taranaki Māori Women’s Network (TmwN) and I am also the Director of Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Inc. (TTW).
  1. I am writing this submission on behalf of TTW as the founding member of the organisation, on behalf of my daughters and mokopuna and myself.
  1. The Taranaki Māori Women’s Networks is a collective who hold in trust the wellbeing of Taranaki and whose purpose is to creatively respond to issues that impact on whānau, hapu and iwi by way of the contemporary application of tikanga Māori to ameliorate the effects of historical trauma on the collective. The taonga tuku iho (non-negotiable treasures) handed on to us by our Tūpuna and the principles exemplified by Te Raukura encourage members to enact collective ownership, responsibility and accountability by strengthening whānau relationships, cultural practices and to actively pursue the reclamation and resurrection of protective hapū institutions.
  1. Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki is a kaupapa Māori tangata whenua development and liberation organisation. The values that underpin TTW are tikanga Māori which is central to all service provision with the primary aim of empowering whānau, hapū and iwi to address historical and intergenerational trauma in the context of their lives today. The organisation has a responsibility to provide all whānau with an analysis of the socio-cultural, economic and political factors that impinge upon their lives and to maintain and promote; te wairua, te mana, te tapu, te ihi me ngaa moemoea o ngā Mātua Tūpuna.
  1. The organisations activities over the past 30 years have stemmed from a desire to: a)honour our Tūpuna for their courage, fortitude and the passive resistance movement they coordinated to retain their homelands mō ngā tamariki mokopuna b) to help reclaim their vision of the future for their uri and c) to help heal the corrosive intergenerational wounds inflicted on their descendant’s by the theft of their cultural and economic base – their lands.
  1. The base of the organisations mandated Kaupapa Māori stance originates out of the direct instruction from our prophet Te Whiti o Rongomai “ E tu tama wahine i te wā o te kore”. This directive was reissued by Dr Huirangi Waikererpuru and Matarena Rau-Kupa QSM in 1989 when they named the organisation, Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki, and instructed us to continue the work our Tūpuna kuia had done.
  1. Because there are well documented reports in the form of the ‘Confiscated Native Lands and Other Grievances, Royal Commission’, generally known as the Sims Commission 1928 and the 1996 Waitangi Tribunal Report on Taranaki ‘Te Kaupapa Tuatahi’ WAI 143, there seems minimal use in restating this process again other than to remind the Select Committee members that Commission and Tribunal members were made up of High Court Judges, prominent Community Leaders, Former Prime Ministers and Governor Generals who concluded that Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū lands were unjustly taken. In layman’s language – stolen.
  1. In spite of the agreement by both commissions, that the land was stolen, successive local government bodies and central government acting on behalf of the Crown have managed to avoid correcting an unjust act and have in actuality also managed to keep the naked truth from the field of their moral vision.
  1. There have been hundreds of thousands of hectares of land confiscated from Māori in Aotearoa/NZ however the blatant theft of the Pekapeka block of land should perhaps sit at the pinnacle of the list of festering scabs in our country. Because the sinful theft of these lands has been benignly packaged by successive Governments and Local Councils as endowment it allows people to relegate the iniquitous morality of the original sin to the recesses of their mind, a form of wilful amnesia.
  1. But the continued and ongoing sin is by the NPDC. The Councils latest attempt to ‘gobble de gook’ it even further with this Bill, which is almost incomprehensible to a lay person, and it is quite simply immoral and cruel for the NPDC to put forward this manipulative Bill to further dispossess the Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū of their lands.
  1. Over six generations of revengeful systemic injustice and institutional racism has been the price Taranaki Hapū have paid for the passive resistance movement stance of our Tūpuna, which was their right to exercise (as it is the right of free people throughout the world) and it is time for the NPDC to face up to its wilful ignorance about this latest unhealthy exercise of power and greed in the form of this ‘final land grab’ in Waitara.
  1. In Part 1 of the Bill the Preliminary Provisions – 3 Purpose – the purposes of this Act are to – (a) – (l) : are of particular concern as they will:
  • Extinguish hapū connections to their lands.
  • A further expropriation of property rights without consent.
  • In Breach of Article 11 and Article 111 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) and in particular I would draw the Select Committees attention to Chapter 8 in the Waitangi Tribunal Report – Te Kaupapa Tuatahi 1996 which states that “There may be no others where as many Treaty breaches had equivalent force and effect over a comparable time”.
  • In breach of (to name just a few) Articles: 8 no.1 & 2 (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), 10, 11 no.1, 25, 26 no.1 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • The reserves offered do not come close to being an adequate replacement for the lands stolen or culture usurped.
  • This Bill will have an overwhelming negative effect on Māori within the region and in particular on both Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū.
  1. Further to the above the NPDC has been unable to enact Māori representation on the Council as the Local Electoral Act 2001 and the Local Government Act 2002 provided for and article 81 which spells out what a local authority must do to allow contributions to decision-making processes by Māori.

(1) A local authority must—

(a) Establish and maintain processes to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and

(b) Consider ways in which it may foster the development of Māori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and

(c) Provide relevant information to Māori for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b).

  • The process by which this Bill has been developed is wrong and flies in the face of the above and will actively disenfranchise both hapū to the disadvantage of all the hapu in Taranaki.
  • The Bill is fostering conflict in the wider Te Ātiawa community by representing that Te Kotahitanga o Te Ātiawa position as tangata whenua as holding sway over the hapū mana whenua status.
  • It is also fostering conflict in the Waitara community between the lease holders and the hapū.
  • The Human Rights Commission, in its annual review of race relations, identified Māori representation in local government and an effective voice for Māori in the decisions… as being among the top ten race relations priorities for 2010…..Unless positive steps,are taken, Māori representation in local government will continue to languish well below the proportion of Māori in the population. Past Council members and some current members on the NPDC have been actively and publicly working to prevent full Māori participation on the NPDC.
  • How can they be trusted to act in the best interests of the community when there is active manipulation to ensure a section of the community continues to be marginalised and excluded from the decision making process.
  • How can the Council be trusted to act in the best interests of the Waitara community when they have proven themselves to be totally inept in relation to securing Māori representation on to the Counci
  1. We are asking the Select Committee to REJECT the Waitara Lands Bill 2016. And in doing so, recommend that the Select Committee Direct the NPDC to :

a) Undertake authentic and genuine dialogue with the Manukorihi and Otarua hapu about the stolen Pekapeka lands and that the NPDC put a stop to its ongoing shameful and disrespectful conduct in attempting to further alienate the Pekapeka from both hapū.

b)To return the stolen lands to both hapū without ‘strings attached’.

c) To support Manukorihi and Otarua Hapū, to utilise the hapū lands for their authentic purpose this is to benefit the collective not just a few people.

d) We recommend that the Select Committee consider and give weight to our request that the NPDC be directed to return fair reparations to lease holders who have been paying a lease for their own stolen lands and that the time frame commence from the Sim Commission Report to the present day.

e) We recommend that the Select Committee establish an independent inquiry, funded by the Crown, to fully investigate endowment and leasehold properties on the Pekapeka in Waitara that have been privatised since the restructuring of local government in 1989. And that the inquiry requires the NPDC to give a full account of what the proceeds gained from the stolen property was spent on including the amont spent on legal fees that have been funded from Waitara leasehold payments and sales.

  1. We support and encourage the Select Committee to show leadership in relation to these stolen lands so that the damage that has been inflicted on the Waitara community can begin to be repaired and start to heal. Because the healing of this festering corrosive wound will benefit the whole community and the entire Taranaki region.
  1. Please note that I wish to make an oral submission and also ask the Select Committee to hold the hearing at Owae Whai Tara Marae in Waitara, Taranaki.

Ko Waitara, ko Waitara

Ko te rā tēnei i mate ai te whenua, i mate ai te tangata

Ka pewhea tātou e te iwi?……

Thank you for your consideration of the above submission

 

About Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.
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