12 May 2010

Government accused of betraying Tuhoe over claim

7:12 pm on 12 May 2010

Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger says some members of the iwi feel the Prime Minister has betrayed them by ruling out the return of a national park to Maori.

A row has erupted over John Key's announcement on Monday ruling out Tuhoe's bid for sole ownership of the Urewera National Park after 18 months of negotiations.

The decision has angered Tuhoe, whose negotiator Tamati Kruger says the iwi believed it had an agreement in principle on the return of the North Island park as part of the iwi's Treaty settlement.

In the past two days, Tuhoe has held a series of hui, or meetings, throughout New Zealand to discuss the Government's decision.

Mr Kruger says the hui have instructed Tuhoe's negotiating team to stick to its current position over the ownership of the North Island national park.

"The attitude is from great disappointment to a sense of betrayal by the Prime Minister. Betrayal also of the negotiation process, really. And there are others that are very, very angry."

Mr Kruger says Tuhoe want to hear what new options the Crown is proposing for settling the iwi's claim.

Turia rejects PM's version of phone call

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she did not tell the Prime Minister she was "fine" with the Government's rejection of a Tuhoe Treaty claim, despite what he says.

Mr Key says he informed Mrs Turia of the decision on Sunday night, and that while she was disappointed, she was totally fine otherwise.

But Mrs Turia says at no point did she say she was fine; on the contrary, she says was very distressed by the news.

She says it isn't good faith to pull the plug on a deal just a week before it was meant to be concluded.

The Prime Minister is refusing to comment any further.

Radio New Zealand's political editor says the spat between Mrs Turia and Mr Key is probably the most serious since the National Party and the Maori Party struck a deal after the 2009 election.