16 Dec 2010

Government 'on track' to meet claims deadline

10:07 pm on 16 December 2010

Prime Minister John Key says the Government is on track to meet its target of having all historic Treaty of Waitangi claim settlements completed by 2014.

Mr Key told Waatea News that Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson briefed the Cabinet and caucus this week on the progress.

"He is very goal-focused. He wants to get to a point where he really does complete the settlements by 2014. We all know that's a big challenge, but he's putting his best foot forward."

Mr Key says settlements with Ngati Porou and Ngati Whatua are looking in great shape.

Gisborne iwi seeks separate claim

Gisborne claimants are fighting to prevent their claims from being included in the Ngati Porou settlement.

Ngati Oneone claimants from the Kaiti area on the eastern side of the city have asked the Waitangi Tribunal for an urgent hearing on whether their claims should be heard.

Earlier this year, the tribunal stopped hearing East Coast claims because of settlement negotiations with the Te Runanga o Ngati Porou.

Ngati Oneone's lawyer Charl Hirschfeld told Waatea News the Crown and the Ngati Porou Runanga are breaching the assimilation clause of the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

"They don't see themselves as part of Ngati Porou; they never have.

If this settlement goes ahead in unqualified fashion, which doesn't take account of them as separate and independent ... they say, in effect, that's a form of forced assimilation, which is something contrary to the declaration."

Mr Hirschfeld says Ngati Oneone has asked Waitangi Tribunal judge Craig Coxhead to step aside, as he put all the other East Coast hearings on hold originally.