22 Mar 2009

Runanga denies it's trying to override tribunal process

5:05 pm on 22 March 2009

The Ngapuhi runanga is dismissing suggestions it is trying to sidestep the Waitangi Tribunal claims process and enter direct settlement negotiations with the Crown.

Hearings on the grievances of the country's largest Maori tribe are due to begin in October.

But the runanga, or tribal council, is funding a roadshow to canvass Ngapuhi here and in Australia on a mandate for settlement.

A prominent elder, Patu Hohepa, says the runanga seems to be trying to circumvent the claimants.

However Sonny Tau, the runanga chair, says the runanga is the only body with the resources to help 170,000 Ngapuhi have a say on settlement issues.

Mr Tau says there are about 1000 Ngapuhi claims, which he hopes can be pooled.