4 May 2010

Minister pays tribute to late iwi leader

8:01 pm on 4 May 2010

The Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations has paid tribute to Ngati Manawa chair Bill Bird, who died at the weekend after a long illness.

Negotiations between the minister, Chris Finlayson, and the Murupara-based iwi in eastern Bay of Plenty through last year resulted in the signing of a deed of settlement in December.

Mr Finlayson told Waatea News that Mr Bird was determined to achieve a settlement for his iwi, at great personal cost.

"My abiding memory of him is waiting to have a meeting with him in Rotorua at a hotel one afternoon last year - and he was in absolute agony. He'd got out of his bed and come into town and it took about 10 minutes for him to have the strength to get out of the car."

The minister says legislation enacting the Ngati Manawa settlement will be introduced to Parliament soon.

Bill Bird's tangi at Rangitahi marae in Murupara ends on Wednesday.