20 Feb 2019

'Huge concern' over rushed Hauraki settlement

7:56 am on 20 February 2019

The Crown is being accused of rushing to finalise the Hauraki settlement less than two months before different iwi will stand before the Waitangi Tribunal to oppose it.

The Treaty of Waitangi. He Tohu, a new permanent exhibition of three iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand. Treaty of Waitangi, Declaration of Independence and Women's Suffrage Petition.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Anger and opposition to the Hauraki settlement reached boiling point in May last year when a Ngāi Te Rangi kaumātua confronted Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little on the forecourt of parliament.

But the fight for Ngāi Te Rangi and others opposed to the settlement is not over.

Six iwi, including Whangārei-based Ngātiwai will argue in April that the Hauraki settlement redress includes land and rights situated within their own tribal boundaries.

Ngātiwai chairperson Aperahama Edwards said the minister assured his people he would halt further negotiations with Hauraki until the tribunal hearings were over.

"The assurance that the minister gave was that the Hauraki settlement wouldn't go through to completion until the urgent inquiry and other factors had been worked through.

"We took that to mean that the advancement towards complete settlement would basically halt until these issues were worked through."

However, Ngāti Paoa, one of 12 iwi within the Hauraki collective, has confirmed the minister and its iwi negotiators signed the Hauraki settlement last week.

Its iwi trust kaiārahi (leader) Haydn Solomon said many iwi members did not agree that should have happened before the Waitangi Tribunal hearings.

"It's a huge concern because basically it's almost like a curtain raiser to the inquiry or a prequel to the inquiry [and] almost pre-empts it.

"They're trying to strengthen their position before these inquiries start [and] they know if they have Ngāti Paoa locked down then they have a greater chance of surviving the inquiry."

The urgent inquiry will focus on the Crown's actions, omissions, and policies during negotiations with Hauraki. It will also look into any potential breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Mr Edwards said if the settlement was finalised without the Crown addressing Ngātiwai's overlapping claims first, it would be devastating.

"There are some really significant overlapping claims issues. Issues around the Mahurangi area [and] issues over on Aotea, Great Barrier Island.

"The stance of Ngātiwai is to support hau kāinga [home], hunga [group], and the hunga kāinga are aggrieved by what is being proposed."

In a statement Ngāi Et Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said the six successful urgent Waitangi Tribunal applications opposing the settlement was significant and pointed to a broken settlement process that needed to be addressed.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little declined to comment.