4 Feb 2019

Tuhoronuku not right for Ngāpuhi settlement - Little

11:24 am on 4 February 2019

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little will be meeting with representatives of Ngāpuhi and its hapū to find an alternative to Tuhoronuku while he is at Waitangi this year, he says.

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Photo: Supplied

The country's biggest iwi, Ngāpuhi rejected a revised mandate for settlement talks when more than 70 of its hundred-plus hapū gave it the thumbs down in December.

The National government accepted the mandate known as Tuhoronuku, inititated by rūnanga leader Sonny Tau nearly ten years ago.

But Mr Little said the latest vote had made it clear hapū did not want to settle under that banner, or the most recent so-called evolved version.

"The Crown's view is, my view is, that the nature of Ngāpuhi is that you can't reach agreement with any one hapū until you reach agreement with all hapū.

"So we need Ngāpuhi to move together. What that looks like, how that's structured is the debate that we have to have and I'm keen to continue that discussion."

Mr Little said he did not consider the recent vote a failure but another step towards making progress.

"I'm not relenting in terms of the pressure that I'm putting on myself, on behalf of the Crown, but also on Ngāpuhi."

He said last year's efforts to fix the mandate had cost $1.2m, but the process had at least made it clear what Ngāpuhi did not want.

"It [the Tuhoronuku mandate] certainly isn't supported, that's pretty clear, so we've got to find the alternative. I've got a number of engagements lined up with representatives of Ngāpuhi and hapū to talk about that.

"I'm confident that more talk and more dialogue is the only way we're going to find where that magic solution lies."

He ruled out dealing with any of the hapū who did support Tuhoronuku until the iwi had an overall plan for negotiations.

"There have been a lot of people come to me during the course of last year and since the vote result, saying clearly Tuhoronuku as an entity doesn't have the confidence of Ngāpuhi to negotiate on their behalf, to negotiate with the Crown.

"We have to find a way that we can negotiate with Ngāpuhi."

However, he was not planning to formally withdraw the crown's acceptance of the Tuhoronuku mandate at this point, Mr Little said.

"To me that's an irrelevance and a distraction; clearly Tuhoronuku as an entity doesn't have the confidence of Ngāpuhi to negotiate on their behalf with the Crown. And although 31 hapū supported it, that is not enough in my view, for the Crown to enter negotiations," he said.

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