19 Feb 2020

Māori Crown Relations office criticised by National over Ihumātao dispute

6:03 pm on 19 February 2020

The Office of Māori Crown Relations, Te Arawhiti, has been criticised for its inability to tell MPs which government agency has led efforts to find a resolution to the Ihumātao land dispute.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

At a Māori Affairs Select Committee today, the agency was questioned about its involvement in ministerial meetings about Ihumātao, and what it knows about a resolution.

National Party MP Matt King said it was odd that an agency at the forefront of Māori Crown relations could not tell MPs who the lead agency was.

Te Arawhiti chief executive Lil Anderson said the agency's only involvement in Ihumātao was advising the government about risks to the treaty settlement framework.

"All I can tell you is that the lead agency on Ihumātao is not Te Arawhiti," she said.

"We have not been involved in discussions with the iwi or SOUL.

"Our advice largely is about the risks to the treaty settlement framework, and that advice is centered on what have we already p done in treaty settlements, how do we preserve that, and how do we make sure that those that are to come are treaty the same as those that have already settled.

"Our other advice has been around post-settlement and how we protect those iwi that have settled."

She said Ihumātao was a complex issue, and one which probably needed a multi-agency approach.

"It's a really complex issue and it takes, I think, a range of government agencies including Crown law and others so it could have been any agency that led those discussions, but they are so complex and difficult.

"Our advice have been really consistent around protecting the settlements that have already happened."

She said Te Arawhiti was not aware of a resolution being reached.

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