26 May 2015

Maori Council to jump into mandate row

7:28 pm on 26 May 2015

The Tai Tokerau Māori Council is set to enter the fray over the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement.

The council's new chair Rihari Dargaville is calling for an urgent meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in a bid to stop the process.

The Minister for Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson announced last Friday that the Crown and Ngāpuhi had signed off on terms and were ready to start negotiations.

But Mr Dargaville said no robust or lasting settlement can come from those.

He said too many hapū rejected the authority the Crown was dealing with, Tūhoronuku, and the Waitangi Tribunal had cast serious doubts about its mandate to speak for the iwi.

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

The chair of Tūhoronuku Sonny Tau said the door was still open and always would be for hapu to be represented.

Under Tūhoronuku rules it takes just one person to nominate a kaikōrero, and while the hapū had been standing back a number of people had been elected without hapū backing.

But Mr Tau said if the hapū followed due process they could have those people replaced.

He said there would be fresh elections next month, so hapu who had changed their minds could hop on the waka.

However Mr Dargaville said the entire mandate process was too flawed to salvage.

He was hoping his lifelong loyalty to the National Party would convince Mr English to listen to him, and put the brakes on settlement until Ngāpuhi resolved its deadlock.

The New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone said his iwi, Ngāti Hine, opposed the Tūhoronuku mandate from the start.

He said the timing of the Minister's announcement after close of business on Friday in Budget week was questionable, especially so soon after the death of the Ngāti Hine rangatira Erima Henare who played a leading role in the claims.

Mr Tau said the minister's announcement was in fact delayed by a month because Tūhoronuku insisted on the inclusion of words like "utu" and 'He Whakaputanga' - in the wording of the terms of negotiation.

He said no disrespect was intended.

Meanwhile Mr Dargaville said he was calling an urgent meeting of the Tai Tokerau District Māori Council to endorse his plea to the Government to taihoa (wait) - on the last of the big Treaty settlements.