16 Dec 2016

Ngapuhi settlement back on track - Finlayson

7:52 pm on 16 December 2016

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson says he believes the Ngāpuhi settlement is back on track after meetings today with opposing factions in the stand-off.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson after today's talks. Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

The Ngāpuhi claim has a history of stand-offs, resignations and bust-ups, but the Treaty Minister still believes it can be settled by next year if everyone gets on with it.

Tūhoronuku, the troubled mandated iwi authority and Te Kotahitanga, a group representing a large group of hapū, had separate meetings with Mr Finlayson, where they were told they were both to attend a January meeting which the Minister himself will chair.

The mandate to negotiate the settlement was found by the Waitangi Tribunal to be seriously flawed, and both sides have agreed on a plan to address the defects.

Te Kotahitanga has been turning up for meetings to put the new mandate structure in place, but the original mandate holders, Tūhoronuku, led by Sonny Tau, boycotted both meetings.

The minister said he had received an unequivocal promise by Tūhoronuku to attend the next meeting in mid-January - and he would chair that meeting, if he was still minister.

He said he was happy to interrupt his holiday to get things moving, for the sake of the children living "crummy lives" in Kaikohe and Kaitaia.

Improving their lot was the ultimate goal of a Treaty settlement and iwi and hapū leaders needed to work with him to achieve it, Mr Finlayson said.

Earlier this year, Tūhoronuku members - along with Te Kotahitanga - worked together with the Office of Treaty Settlements on a joint working group called Maranga Mai. The Maranga Mai report made sweeping changes to the Tūhoronuku structure including dropping the representative of the Ngāpuhi runanga, a position held by Mr Tau.

Following the completion of the report the Treaty Minister instructed Maranga Mai representatives to get on with it but the Tūhoronuku members failed to turn up to meetings.

Ngāpuhi is the largest iwi in the country, with 120,000 members, and is one of the country's poorest tribes.

In a recent iwi performance report conducted by TDB Advisory, it found Ngāpuhi only made a 3 percent return on its assets while the top performer Ngāti Whātua ō Ōrākei made 21 percent.