23 Oct 2013

Tuhoe settlement bill passes first hurdle

7:27 pm on 23 October 2013

The Treaty Negotiations Minister has told Parliament he hopes the latest attempt to settle past Treaty of Waitangi grievances with Tuhoe is positive.

Legislation putting in place the Crown's agreement with the central North Island iwi has unanimously passed its first reading in Parliament.

The agreement includes an apology from the Crown and a $170 million compensation payment.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Parliament on Wednesday it is not the first time the House has debated Tuhoe's past injustices. However, he said the Crown has learned from its past mistakes in negotiating a Treaty settlement with the iwi.

"If we had given the same powers and privileges which we are proposing to give under this bill, a lot of the trouble that has arisen and which has been the cause of bloodshed, which has been the cause of an otherwise well-disposed people being estranged from the rest of the colony, would have been avoided."

In addition to the Crown apology and the $170 million compensation payment, the settlement includes the establishment of a board of governors to manage Te Urewera National Park.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples told the House Tuhoe is a tribe whose people have always tried to live their lives on their terms.

Labour Party MP Shane Jones told Parliament he was pleasantly surprised at the deal reached between Tuhoe and the Crown.

Mr Jones said he believed most significant was the right for Tuhoe to manage Te Urewera National Park in partnership with the Crown. He said that would never have been attempted or achieved under previous Labour-led governments.

Two other treaty bills are also having their first readings on Wednesday; those for Ngati Haua and Ngati Koriki Kahukura.