23 Apr 2009

More Govt money to speed up Treaty negotiations

8:02 am on 23 April 2009

The Government says there will be extra funding in next month's Budget to assist its goal of completing all historical Treaty of Waitangi claims by 2014.

Representatives from 65 iwi met Prime Minister John Key, six ministers and government representatives at a national hui in Auckland on Wednesday.

Proposals put forward by the Government to help speed up the settlement process include reducing the role of the Crown in the allocation of settlements, streamlining legislation, improving mediation between the Crown and Maori and more parallel negotiations.

Support would also be given to iwi to properly prepare them for the negotiation process to avoid problems such as overlapping claims.

The Prime Minister admits the Office of Treaty Settlements and the Waitangi Tribunal need to be better resourced and says his Government is prepared to be more flexible in the way it considers negotiations.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson says the Budget could include about $5 million more for the Office of Treaty Settlements.

Finance Minister Bill English warned that iwi need to realise the recession means there are weaker Crown accounts for the Government to negotiate with.

Maori urged to work with Government

Tainui is warning other Maori tribes to ensure they make the most of the Government's plan to speed up Treaty negotiations and reach durable settlements.

Waikato-Tainui chairperson Tuku Morgan says Maori should take advantage of the Government's willingness to negotiate.

Mr Finlayson says he believes iwi are positive about the Government's goal of settling claims by 2014. He says the date is a target, but the Government will not be too rigid about it.