Changes signalled for Ngāpuhi treaty negotiations

7:39 pm on 4 April 2016

A new report is pushing for the country's biggest iwi to change the way it is negotiating its Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

The 'Waitangi Sheet' of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, which is made up of nine documents.

The 'Waitangi Sheet' of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, which is made up of nine documents. Photo: Archives New Zealand

Ngāpuhi is set to receive one of the government's largest payouts but negotiations have been beset by dispute and difficulties for several years.

The Ngāpuhi Engagement Group, which includes members of negotiating body Tūhoronuku and its opposition, hapū alliance Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi, has come up with a set of recommendations aimed at breaking the impasse that has held up negotiations.

The working party's draft report, 'Maranga Mai', recommended hapū should be at the heart of the negotiations. However, Tūhoronuku chair Hone Sadler has already dismissed its ideas.

Pita Tipene, a Ngati Hine leader, is concerned about hapu members from overseas, who are out of the loop, being nominated for seats.

Pita Tipene Photo: RNZ

Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi co-chair Pita Tipene said a united plan has been reached on how to negotiate with the government.

"It doesn't matter whether they are from Tūhoronuku, Te Kotahitanga or the Crown, they are all speaking as one. And it is really positive to hear that there is a sense of unity amongst that core group, which is now emanating out to Ngāpuhi.

"The biggest change is that the foundations of this settlement model are firmly in the hands of hapū, and that the decisions that will be made by those hapū can be made using their own tikanga."

Mr Sadler, was not a member of the working party, said he did not agree with some of its proposals.

"In terms of hapū involvement or hapū-driven, with Tūhoronuku they already had that."

Under the current structure, 15 members on the Tūhoronuku board of 22 are hapū representatives.

"So, I am saying, what is the difference," Mr Sadler said.

The working party was instigated late last year after the Waitangi Tribunal found flaws in Tūhoronuku's mandate and how it represented hapū.

Under the new proposals, representative roles for kuia and kaumātua, Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-o-Ngāpuhi and urban Māori will be scrapped.

Mr Sadler said Ngāpuhi whānau who lived in the city would lose their say.

"The majority of Ngāpuhi are urban dwellers... this silences their voice. I know the argument is that hapū can represent them but no, hapū can not represent them. Some are displaced."

The report also recommended a change in name from Tūhoronuku to something that better reflected the new negotiating model.

The working party is calling for feedback by the end of the month and will then give its final report to the Crown.

Minister for Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson would not comment on the report while it was in its draft form but encouraged Ngāpuhi members to read it.

Labour Party MP, Kelvin Davis.

Kelvin Davis Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis agreed, and said he hoped the iwi supported the recommendations.

"Some people were still entrenched that they did not want anything to do with the other side, they were not prepared to compromise at all.

"And that really is not getting us anywhere, especially when something like $1 million a month is being lost in interest alone."

Mr Davis suggested more than $70m could have gone into one of the country's poorest regions if the settlement had been reached six years ago.

Mr Tipene said it was a positive and exciting time.

"I have received a few calls from people that are really excited about the pathway put forward."

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