Ngāpuhi negotiations falter as board members resign

7:03 pm on 23 September 2016

Four Ngāpuhi trustees have resigned from the board tasked with negotiating the iwi's treaty settlement, effectively ending hopes of unity under its mandate.

A group of protesters - including members of rival faction Te Kotahitanga - take to the streets to oppose Tūhoronuku's appointment to carry out treaty negotiations on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

A group of protesters - including members of rival faction Te Kotahitanga - take to the streets to oppose Tūhoronuku's appointment to carry out treaty negotiations on behalf of Ngāpuhi. Photo: TE KOTAHITANGA

Tūhoronuku, the board with the mandate to negotiate the settlement, must decide if it will allow hapū to take charge of the process - or lose that right.

This follows a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry that found Tūhoronuku itself was an empty vessel which undermined hapū rangatiratanga.

The board has been meeting in Paihia since 9.30am with a brief break for lunch.

Moana Tuwhare, Sam Napia, Sheryl Turner and Helene Leaf this evening all resigned from the board, saying they could not continue.

The four represent two large takiwā, or hapū districts, in Hokianga and the Kaikohe-Taiamai area.

The trustees said Tūhoronuku had no intention of adopting the Maranga Mai report - a plan drawn up by delegates from opposing factions, which would allow hapū to drive the settlement.

Ms Tuwhare said the board's leadership wanted to change the recommendations of the report, and tinker with the new structure to retain control.

She was extremely disappointed and said the past 10 months of work on Maranga Mai, to bring Ngāpuhi together, had been a waste of hapū time and energy.

Tūhoronuku was a disgrace as a governance group representing the largest iwi, Ms Tuwhare said.

Its leaders - current chair Hone Sadler and former chair Sonny Tau - had failed to provide a safe and supportive environment for hapū kaikorero (representatives) to take part in talks in any meaningful way, she said.

Ms Turner, who represents several Hokianga hapū, said some trustees had continually pushed personal agendas, and behaved disgracefully, which had brought the board into disrepute.

She said Tūhoronuku had squandered huge amounts of money and had nothing to show for it.

Mr Sadler said he wouldn't be making any comment until he had told Minister for Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson what the meeting had resolved to do.

But he said the four trustees who had resigned could be replaced with new ones from other hapū in their districts.

Minister gives deadline for meeting's resolution

Earlier, Mr Finlayson said he could not wait longer than today for a decision from the board.

In a letter to Mr Sadler, Mr Finlayson said the board's failure to commit to the changes was impeding progress on the negotiations.

Mr Tau had warned that handing over control to the hapū would fragment the settlement.

Mr Finlayson dismissed that claim, and said the Maranga Mai report did not propose six to eight hapū settlements but suggested a unified approach.

The minister said when the Crown recognised the mandate, it discussed the fact that the process included options for recognising differing interests and multiple outcomes.

Those could involve devolving settlement assets to hapū or holding them collectively, the minister said.