Treaty overlap: Iwi claim place on Tauranga harbour board

4:05 pm on 10 May 2018

An iwi with recognised customary title over Tauranga Harbour want to be on a board overseeing the harbour as part of their settlement.

Tauranga Harbour

Tauranga Harbour Photo: 123RF

Pare Hauraki Collective was at Parliament yesterday pleading their case before the Māori Affairs Select Committee.

A 2004 Waitangi Tribunal ruling found the group did have customary interests in Tauranga Moana, but influence over the harbour has been the sticking point for local iwi Ngāi Te Rangi who are part of the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective.

An existing Treaty settlement already gave the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective several seats on the board which governed Tauranga Harbour, but as part of its negotiations Pare Hauraki Collective also wants a seat on the board.

Hauraki negotiator Paul Majurey said the group had strong links to the area, including whakapapa and wāhi tapu, and had been waiting a long time for redress.

"I had two aunties pass away last month and I'm beside myself that those of our family have not seen this settlement. It's time for us to settle," he said.

"Will discussions be ongoing? Well, yes, because there's redress that we need to come to. But it is just unreasonable, and unfair, and not tika for our people to be held up as they have been."

The Hauraki Collective includes 12 iwi from a wide area, from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty. Tauranga Moana was just one part of the settlement.

Ngāi Te Rangi iwi chairman Charlie Tawhiao said Hauraki's customary interests were not enough to grant them governing rights.

"We're absolutely certain that we will prevail. We've been there for a long time, we've seen off eight other iwi invasions over the history of our iwi, this is just another one. We aren't going anywhere.

"The signing by the government, should that proceed, would be a major injustice to us but it would not stop us from seeking what is right."

Ngāi Te Rangi have protested in the past including blocking commercial ships from leaving Tauranga Harbour's port last year.

Under the previous government, the two groups were asked to come to an agreement between themselves, but Mr Tawhiao said that had not worked.

"We hadn't got to a tikanga process, we were siting in a meeting room at a race course for goodness sake.

"We were having a lawyer talk under the guise of tikanga. It's not the same thing as tikanga kōrero. We never got to the issues."

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said the deadline for contesting the impending settlement was next Friday, 18 May.

"The one thing that I won't regard with any great satisfaction is any attempt to be obstructive or obstinate about the way forward and that, unfortunately, is what we've seen going back possibly since the middle of last year."

Mr Little said he intended to sign Hauraki's deed of settlement but he wanted to hear from Tauranga Moana before he made the final decision.

"What I have indicated to Tauranga Moana iwi and Hauraki iwi is that it's my intention to sign the deed but I want to hear particularly from Tauranga Moana about whether there is anything that I need to take into account before doing that, given the standoff that there currently is at least between Ngāi Te Rangi and Hauraki."

Ngāi Te Rangi said they would continue to fight even if the settlement was signed because they believed their own rights are being impeded.

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