23 May 2015

Time for in-fighting to stop, says Minister

5:19 pm on 23 May 2015

The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations says it's time for Ngāpuhi to stop their in-fighting and look to their future by beginning settlement talks with the Crown.

Chris Finlayson defended claims that the Government was jumping the gun by beginning the talks, despite threats of legal action by some sub-tribes.

He said Crown was open to hapū-specific negotiations as part of the wider settlement process. However, he has signed the terms of negotiation with the Tūhoronuku Mandated Authority.

The Waitangi Tribunal is investigating claims by the hapu alliance, Te Kōtahitanga o ngā Hapū ō Ngāpuhi, that the Authority in talks with the Crown doesn't represent them.

The co-chairperson of the hapu alliance, Pita Tipene, said it will oppose any deal done by Tuhoronuku because it does not have a solid hapu foundation, and the claims it seeks to settle are still being heard by the Waitangi Tribunal.

He said they would go to court if necessary to stop the Government negotiating a Treaty Settlement, and that it would be unwise for the Government to rush to settle when the Tribunal has criticised the mandate and is considering complaints over its validity.

Ngapuhi leader Rāniera Tau said he was not worried by threats of legal action from hapu unhappy with the Crown's decision to negotiate a Treaty of Waitangi settlement with one group representing the Far North iwi.

He said hapu threatening legal action over the Crown's decision to mandate one group to represent the iwi in Treaty of Waitangi negotiations needed to stop trying to derail progress, and that more than three quarters of Ngapuhi had given their mandate to the authority.

Mr Tau said Tūhoronuku had bent over backwards to accommodate the disaffected hapu, including offering them seats on the board and their own negotiators, but they have rejected those offers.

Mr Finlayson said he will carefully consider the Tribunal's report when it comes out, but that Ngāpuhi people have already waited too long for redress.

He said the examples of both Tainui, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of its settlement this week, and Ngai Tahu, showed what iwi can achieve for their people.

Mr Finlayson said negotiations might take longer, but hapū-specific interests would not be ignored in the process.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs