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Maori Caucus Must Crack The Whip

The Government's Maori MPs must crack the whip to prevent their Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi negotiations from derailing the settlement process, National's Treaty Negotiations spokesperson Georgina te Heuheu said today.

"Labour's Maori caucus should at least take heed of Mana Motuhake's new leader Willie Jackson's criticism of Professor Wilson and the stalling of the whole process.

"Maori and Pakeha alike are worried that the good progress made last decade is now being unraveled. The Government's Maori MPs must demand immediate steps be taken to restore the momentum on Treaty negotiations.

"What has been happening recently is shameful. The way the Minister delivered the offer to Rotorua's Te Arawa people, by trying to bully them into accepting the offer, is no way to treat this challenging and complex process.

"That is a shameful way to treat people, full stop!

"Maori want an honest and up front approach to the process. But Margaret Wilson seems unable to talk face-to-face with New Zealanders and has total disregard for basic negotiation principles.

"The Minister should come clean on why her Government is starving the Waitangi Tribunal of sufficient money to operate. No extra funding has gone into the Tribunal for the last couple of budgets. As a result the Tribunal has had to cut back its hearing weeks and put planned research aside. That's no way to advance the process.

"Given the Te Arawa debacle, tribes will not be pushed by this Government into directly negotiating with the Crown. Margaret Wilson's attitude towards Maori and Treaty settlements reflects an attitude which says 'we're in charge, eat that'.

"The Government's Maori members must take responsibility for the lack of action. Confirming the relationship between Maori and Pakeha under the Treaty must be given urgent priority," Mrs te Heuheu said.


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