14 Dec 2018

Iwi not to blame for Ngāpuhi settlement delay - Treaty expert

11:27 am on 14 December 2018

A Treaty expert says iwi are not to blame for lengthy delays in settling Treaty claims.

Carwyn Jones: "One of the things the Treaty does is provides space for people who are not Māori."

Carwyn Jones: "One of the things the Treaty does is provides space for people who are not Māori." Photo: Chevron Hassett/The Wireless

It has taken Northland iwi Ngāpuhi more than 10 years to negotiate a settlement with the Crown.

Now a new proposal to finally get it over the line has been rejected by the majority of its 110 hapū.

Former Treaty Negotiations minister Chris Finlayson told RNZ Ngāpuhi leaders were making it impossible for progress to be made on the settlement.

"You've got people who want to run the show as though it's a politburo ... they've had 10 years, they messed me around [and] they had all sorts of promises made to them.

"Sonny Tau has been a great disappointment [and] Hone Sadler ... he's a person that hasn't made much of a contribution so I think some of these guys need to get lost," Mr Finlayson said.

But an expert in the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori law, Dr Carwyn Jones, said it was a Crown-led process which made it difficult for iwi to settle their treaty grievances.

"You hear those comments around, why aren't Māori just getting it together? Well actually this isn't a process which has been designed by Māori. It has a whole lot of constraints which are set in place by the Crown for the Crown's objectives.

"If they were proper negotiations there would be much more discussion around the negotiation process, it would be a tikanga-based process that the Crown was participating in, rather than setting the limits on the particular steps that need to go through and what they need to look like."

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little has been working for months to break the deadlock over the Ngāpuhi settlement, and has consulted with many hapū across New Zealand and in Australia about the new negotiation model.

But despite his efforts at a tikanga-based process, Mr Jones said more power needed to shift from the Crown if they ever want to see a durable settlement with Ngāpuhi.

"It still comes back to the fact that the Crown is setting the rules of the game, [they're] consulting with Māori and that's great, but still setting the rules of the game, rather than saying well actually if these settlements are going to be durable we can't have the whole negotiations taking place within the framework that we set and we feel comfortable with.

"[The Crown] needs to give up some of that power in terms of setting the process to allow Māori to engage in a tikanga-based process. They need to participate in that process, support that process but not control it."

The results for the Ngāpuhi individual vote on the new mandate will be known this week.