7 Oct 2015

Ngāpuhi negotiators under fire for 'tinkering' after meeting with minister

8:11 pm on 7 October 2015

In a statement Tūhoronuku said it met with Chris Finlayson for a frank assessment of progress and ways to address any issues potentially holding back the settlement and that after the meeting, Mr Finlayson wrote to Hōne Sadler outlining the issues raised.

The meeting followed the release of a Waitangi Tribunal report, that found serious flaws in the mandate of the Tūhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority to carry out negotiations with the government on behalf of the country's largest iwi and they should be halted until the issues were sorted.

The tribunal said the government had recognised an empty structure, and the appointment of board members and negotiators had gone ahead when only a minority of hapū were represented.

Rudy Taylor, the co-chair of the rival Ngāpuhi faction, is critical of the hui between Tūhoronuku chairman Hōne Sadler and deputy chairman, Kara George, with the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

"They're still tinkering around the sides. I think the best way going forward for the Crown and Tūhoronuku was to get the three parties together, iron out the issues that really relate to where we want to start from and hopefully that we can come to some conclusion about where we're going forward.

"At this present moment they're stopping to suggest that they need some more runs on the board in terms of finding more hapū that want to join them."

But Mr Taylor said that was not the issue it was concerned about.

"What we're saying is the hapū want a structure that will suit everybody. At this present moment that structure is not included in the Tūhoronuku model and so the present thing that I'm asking for, and with the members of our hapū-whānau, is that we need to stop all issues of the mandate, sit down with the three parties and go through the process as the report actually outlines there in terms of the tribunal."

Mr Finlayson - the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations - responded with a statement showing his support for the authority:

"I met with the new Tūhoronuku IMA chairperson, Hōne Sadler, and deputy chairperson, Kara George, on Thursday 17 September to welcome them to their new roles and discuss the challenges and opportunities before them.

"I made clear my expectations, such as engagement with their claimant community and prudent financial planning. Today's statement is an indication they seem to be taking these matters seriously.

"I look forward to continuing to work with Tūhoronuku to negotiate a historical Treaty settlement for the benefit of Ngāpuhi."

Tūhoronuku also said in its statement they have agreed to an engagement process with the parties, including the Crown, to work through the issues being raised by Ngāpuhi hapū. This mahi will be led by trustee and previous deputy chair, Moana Tuwhare.

The Tūhoronuku project team is to work with the Office of Treaty Settlements on financial planning and budgets. A number of workstreams are underway, to provide prudent financial planning and ensure the entity is not exposed to budget risks.