16 May 2018

Decision to sign treaty deal 'disregards Māori democracy'

9:18 am on 16 May 2018

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little's decision to sign a treaty deal, despite overlapping claims on the land, disregarded Māori law, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust says.

A hīkoi calling for the Crown to recognise tikanga in the treaty process spilled over into threats of war on Parliament's forecourt yesterday as frustrations with cross-claims boiled over.

The hīkoi was organised to support Ngāti Whātua Orākei which has a case before the Supreme Court on an overlapping treaty claim issue.

The Minister for Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little received the hīkoi at Parliament's forecourt yesterday.

The hapū, which had already settled its claim, was angry the Crown was now offering other iwi properties which the hapū believed were in its tribal boundaries.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust deputy chairman Ngarimu Blair said his hapū had been joined in court by Ngāti Kuri, Ngāi Te Rangi, Waikato Tainui and Ngāti Manuhiri.

"Basically every tribe on the border of Pare Hauraki is supporting us and this case because they're experiencing similar issues of overreach by the Hauraki tribes," he said.

"Across New Zealand also, the cross-claims issues have been rushed over the last ten years and we want this sorted out so our kids don't have to deal with the hangover of these rushed processes where relationships are frayed because of this process."

Mr Blair told Morning Report that Mr Little's decision to sign the deal disregarded democracy and law for Māori.

"We're just asking he at least wait until the outcome of the Supreme Court and we'll live and die by that decision," he said.

"He can't call for a tikanga process when he's signing the deal."

Mr Little told Morning Report that the crown had always backed a tikanga process, but that only worked when iwi were talking to each other.

"The Crown does not get involved or engaged in tikanga processes, and there's just been a stand-off for so long," he said.

Mr Little said yesterday's hīkoi was sparked by him giving notice to the Tauranga iwi that it was his intention to sign a deed of settlement between the Crown and Hauraki that provided for some redress in the Tauranga Moana area.

He said Tauranga Moana iwi opposed the deed because they believed some of the land being offered was within their tribal boundaries.

"They made that pretty clear to me," Mr Little said.

The former National-led government sped up the treaty settlement process, aiming for all claims to be settled by 2020.

Labour list MP Kiri Allan was on the forecourt during the protest and was moved to tears by her iwi.

"Our three tribes from Tauranga Moana had extensive, vast amounts of land confiscated and we carry that with us so when you stand here as a member of Parliament to receive your own, who are bringing that challenge to the Crown to remember tikanga and to remember the mana of the whenua, it's a challenging position," she said.

"But one actually that I was proud of our people for taking a stand and I was proud of my government for responding in the way in which it did."

National's leader Simon Bridges, who was also the MP for Tauranga, said he had listened to the korero of all those involved in the Tauranga Moana process and he hoped the issues could be resolved by the government.

"You're definitely seeing a high-handed approach from ministers on a range of issues, and here is another example, albeit it is good that [Treaty Negotiations Minister] Andrew Little went out [on to the forecourt], and I hope that he will be listening to the concerns and will be trying to find a sensible, collaborative way through."

Mr Little said often Pākehā did not understand the how deeply felt the issues of whenua and mana whenua were - and that was what was behind the passion shown at Parliament yesterday.

"I'm sensitive to that, I'm surrounded by a Māori caucus that keeps me advised of that, we are all of one mind is that we want an agreement reached between iwi - that's the only way we are going to fix this is on an enduring basis is with an agreement between iwi," Mr Little said.

"Every effort is being made to head in that direction."

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who is also the MP for Hauraki-Waikato, has called a meeting to listen to all sides to make sure a tikanga-based process can be set up in good faith.

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