20 Jul 2018

Ngāpuhi talks: Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little stands by iwi-wide entity

10:14 am on 20 July 2018

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little is being challenged to front up to Ngāpuhi and explain his position on a Treaty settlement.

Andrew Little

Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Mr Little has been in talks with four Ngāpuhi representatives - two from each side of the iwi's mandate stand-off - but the hapū are worried they're getting nowhere.

Hopes were raised last summer when Mr Little headed north in a bid to sort out who speaks for Ngāpuhi and who should negotiate their Treaty settlement .

He visited marae all over the rohe and won praise for his willingness to listen to the hapū and their hopes of economic independence.

But he heard from many that Tuhoronuku, the board holding the mandate accepted by the last government, does not represent them.

Since then the minister has been trying to break the deadlock in talks with Tuhoronuku leaders Sonny Tau and Hone Sadler and the leaders of the hapū alliance Rudy Taylor and Pita Tipene.

But Ngati Hine chair Waihoroi Shortland said the talks were going nowhere.

He said the minister was still set on the idea of a single commercial settlement for the entire iwi and that is unacceptable.

"Time and time again we've sent our representatives back saying 'no, that won't be acceptable to us'.

"His best option right now is to come back and face the people.

"But I'm guessing he doesn't want to do that."

Mr Shortland said Ngāti Hine may have to pull out of the talks and seek their own path to settlement along with other like-minded hapū.

Ngāpuhi chair Sonny Tau said the talks had led to progress, and a single commercial settlement would be in the best interests of Ngāpuhi.

"But at the end of the day you can't hold people back who want to go.

"The matter is whether the Crown will entertain that. That's another story - that's up to the Crown."

Mr Little said discussions were continuing on having a iwi-wide entity.

It would be pretty difficult for some of the the 110 hapū involved to individually act as trustees and administer a settlement, he told Morning Report.

He said 80-85 of Ngāpuhi live outside the rohe, many of them third and fourth generation urban residents who did not know their hapū affiliations.

"Ultimately, the people who look after what comes out of the settlement will be trustees whose beneficiaries are well outside the rohe.

"We have to have a structure that reflects that.

"I think there are some hapū leaders who are struggling with that concept because they would like everything routed through the hapū.

"For many of the hapū - there are 110 of them for Ngāpuhi - have difficulty functioning."

Many hapū had no formalised structures or elected decision-makers.

The Crown was discussing a two-level structure, that would help build the capability of hapū, and a distribution model from "any centrally-agreed redress that goes out to regional structures and ultimately down to hapū".

Mr Little was happy to travel to Tai Tokerau at any time, and there was another meeting coming up fairly soon.

"I am confident that we've got the basis of something that will work, that will be effective, that will respect what Ngāpuhi especially those living in the rohe want."

The Crown was also seeking a structure that respected Waitangi Tribunal findings, he said.

The Tribunal found in 2015 that the Crown's insistence that Ngāpuhi settle as a single entity had overridden the right of hapū to form natural groups of their own choice.

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