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National Out Of Touch With Treaty Issues

Monday, 29 April 2002

The National Party’s Treaty Policy shows just how out of touch its members have become with Treaty settlement issues, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Hon Margaret Wilson said today.

“National seems to have forgotten the process they established involves two parties – Maori and the Crown, she said. “While it is important to settle historical grievances as quickly as possible, this can only be done by working with the claimants in the context, and at the pace, they are equally happy with.”

Margaret Wilson said resolution of mandates and cross claim issues is difficult, but it had been this government’s experience that working through these issues thoroughly pays dividends by ensuring durable settlements.

“The previous National government didn’t seem to understand this which is why we inherited a legacy of partial agreements with all the hard work still be done.”

Margaret Wilson said there was more activity in the Treaty settlement area than ever before.

“The signing of a Deed of Settlement with Ngati Tama of Taranaki worth $14.5 million last December brought to three the number of comprehensive Treaty settlements concluded by the government in the previous 12 months. The high level of settlement activity is continuing this year with Deeds of Settlement near completion with Ngati Awa ($42.3 million) and Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau ($10.5 million).”

Excellent progress has been made with Nga Rauru of Taranaki who had not even started negotiations with the previous government. They are committed to reaching a Deed of Settlement before the end of the year, Margaret Wilson said.

“The previous government was unable to make any headway in the Far North but under this government mandates have been recognised and negotiations underway with three of the local iwi.

“In the Bay of Plenty good progress has been made towards Deeds of Settlement with Ngati Awa and Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau which have significant forestry components.

“It is the first time progress has been made in this region since the Whakatohea settlement negotiated by the previous government fell over.”

Margaret Wilson said the National Party’s claim it would speed up the claims process by disestablishing the department which drives it is ludicrous.

“The intention to only appoint one chief negotiator would slow progress right down and before too long we would see the emergence of another agency to deal with all the details involved in ensuring fair settlements for all parties – claimants and the crown alike.”


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