3 Apr 2009

Deadline to settle Treaty claims madness, say Greens

9:21 pm on 3 April 2009

The Green Party says it is "madness" for the Government to pursue 2014 as the cut-off date for having Treaty of Waitangi claims settled.

The Government is planning a hui in Auckland on 22 April to work out how to speed up the settlement process and has invited representatives from about 70 iwi.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has said it is an opportunity for the Crown and Maori to work together on settling historical Treaty grievances for the benefit of Maori and all New Zealanders.

Mr Finlayson said achieving the Government's aim of settling the claims by 2014 in a just and durable way depends largely on the goodwill and generosity that exists between Maori and the Crown.

However, "fine-tuning" is needed on the details of how to work together, he said, and ministers will be giving ideas on how to speed the settlement process up.

That is likely to include suggestions that iwi groups reach a consensus on competing claims before approaching the Crown with their claims.

However, Treaty spokesperson Metiria Turei said on Friday the five-year deadline risks rightful owners of land being dispossessed and future re-litigation.

Ms Turei said suggestions that the Crown could assist groups to reach a consensus on competing claims before they are lodged also carries risks.

She believed the Crown wants fast settlements and would favour groups that are well resourced and able to progress claims quickly.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said more negotiators have been brought in and Maori have good opportunities to settle claims.

Mr Finlayson was not available on Friday to respond to Ms Turei's comments.