11 Dec 2018

Wahine to have greater role in Ngāpuhi negotiations

3:24 pm on 11 December 2018

Ngāpuhi hapū are calling a hui in the new year to discuss a new plan for the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement.

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Hapū protest outside the Ngāpuhi rūnanga annual general meeting last month. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

And they say this time around, women leaders will play a much greater role in steering the waka towards settlement negotiations.

Over 70 percent of the iwi's hapū have rejected a revised mandate structure put together by a ministerial working group, Tūhono.

But a hapū spokesperson, Ted Wihongi said the proposal had some merit and though the voting process has been traumatic for whanau and hapū, it has at least brought them together.

He said hapū leaders will meet on Thursday to plan a major combined hui at Kaikohe's Kohewhata marae in mid-January .

"The karanga has gone out... we're going to meet and plan, and we're going to take our plan to the Minister [Andrew Little].

"And whatever the outcome is of his discussion with the Tuhono team, we will come up with an alternative plan... that is representative of the majority of the hapu," Mr Wihongi said.

Tūhono's proposal was a bid to fix the flaws identified by the Waitangi Tribunal in the original mandate and let hapū decide who represents them, and how they want to settle.

But hapū say it failed to address their main objection: a single commercial settlement controlled by a central negotiating body, which they feared would be dominated by the Ngāpuhi runanga leader, Raniera (Sonny) Tau.

The majority of hapū want to negotiate and settle as six districts or taiwhenua which they say represent the iwi's natural groupings.

Mr Tau, who initiated the original Tūhoronuku mandate, has declined to comment to RNZ on the outcome of the hapū vote.

The results have yet to be officially announced, along with results of the Ngāpuhi individual poll.

But the hapū say even if the poll of individuals supported the revised mandate, the government could not accept it, given the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal and the overwhelming rejection by hapū.

Ted Wihongi said this time around, Ngāpuhi women leaders would play a much greater role in steering the waka towards settlement negotiations.

"We've got a new young leadership team starting the process, tidying up the areas that need tidying," he said.

"Mana wahine was a big discussion that I put out on the floor at the weekend. The women seem to have a much better handle on administration and management, in the engine-room where things need to get done," Mr Wihongi said.