21 Jan 2018

Govt pays extra $370m in treaty settlements

5:33 pm on 21 January 2018

The government has paid an additional $370 million in Treaty of Waitangi settlements to two iwi.

Andrew Lititle speaking at Waitangi, 5 February 2017.

Minster for Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In December, Waikato-Tainui received an extra $190m and Ngāi Tahu $180m, the Minister for Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little said.

Although iwi members were informed last month, the payments only became public today.

They were made under the relativity clauses in their original Treaty settlements which ensure the $170m received by Tainui in 1995 and Ngāi Tahu in 1998, remain in proportion to more modern agreements.

The two iwi also received additional payments in 2012 worth almost $140m combined.

Mr Little said the relativity clause was a result of the Crown's attempt to set a $1 billion cap on total Treaty settlements during the 1990s.

That fiscal limit was unrealistic, he said.

"Ngāi Tahu and Tainui wanted some assurance that as large iwi, that they were going to maintain some sort of relativity.

"The truth is, for all other negotiations since then, the Crown has had to be able to negotiate in good faith and could not subject itself to an arbitrary constraint such as the fiscal envelope."

Because the total value of Treaty settlements was now well beyond $1bn, it was likely future payments to Tainui and Ngāi Tahu would be needed, Mr Little said.

"Bearing in mind what these settlements are all about is compensation for land confiscation, for suppression of human rights, for suppression of the language and all those sorts of things.

"Those things are very important to the iwi who have settled and the iwi who are yet to settle and we've got to deal with that fairly and properly."

Mr Little said the payments were not made public at the time because the iwi wanted to consult with their members and then it was too close to Christmas.

The chair of Waikato-Tainui's executive board, Rukumoana Schaafhausen, said the iwi was the first major group to settle its Treaty claim.

The relativity clause was about ensuring the settlement remained consistent with future Crown commitments, she said.

She said Waikato-Tainui had a range of outstanding issues relating to the clause and had appointed Rahui Papa to negotiate with the Crown.

"We are confident he will advocate strongly to protect our rights and interests."

The Tribal Parliament will receive an update at its meeting in February.

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