17 Apr 2012

Iwi tries to work around competing treaty claims

7:44 am on 17 April 2012

South Waikato-based iwi Ngati Raukawa says it is trying to avoid calling in the Crown over competing tribal treaty claims.

The Raukawa Settlement Trust is working directly with neighbouring tribes, such as Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa and Ngati Maniapoto about overlapping claims.

Raukawa's lead negotiator Vanessa Eparaima says the tribe is in talks with its neighbours about overlapping claims.

Last year, the tribe's former lead negotiator, Chris McKenzie, said Raukawa may have to seek help if an agreement can't be reached over matters, possibly through someone from the Waitangi Tribunal.

Mrs Eparaima hopes it won't come to that, but the option is still there if needed and some issues may possibly end up before the Tribunal.

That could be because one iwi may have connections to a piece of land and Raukawa may also have had ties to the same site, but at a different point in history.

Mrs Eparaima says that overall Raukawa wants to ensure its relationships with neighbouring iwi remain strong.

A former chief executive at Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Mrs Eparaima is taking over the work previously done by Mr McKenzie, who has taken up a role as a political adviser.

She has background in both tourism and small business, and is still the inaugural chairperson of Raukawa Iwi Development Ltd, the tribe's commercial arm.

Mrs Eparaima will stand down from the position in June, when a new head is likely to be elected.