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Minister proposes a move to negotiations

23 April 2003 Media Statement

Minister proposes a move to negotiations


Treaty Negotiations Minister Margaret Wilson has offered to immediately enter into formal pre-negotiations with central North Island iwi with a view to reaching an agreement on historical Treaty claims within two years.

Acknowledging the timeframe as ambitious, she told a meeting of central North Island iwi representatives in Taupo today, if all parties built on the current momentum and constructive dialogue, together they could make it happen.

“I have been impressed with the way central North Island iwi have united to seek to make progress together,” Margaret Wilson said.

“Pre-negotiations will allow us to explore all the issues and enable iwi to make an informed decision as to whether to progress to negotiations proper. The pre-negotiation phase will include the detailed groundwork needed before iwi members mandate their negotiators.”

Margaret Wilson said the government is committed to moving forward towards settling all central North Island iwi claims.

“I anticipate forest land will be a central focus of negotiations, but all other claims will need to be addressed before Deeds of Settlements can be signed with iwi. This is necessary to restore the integrity of the Crown, lay a strong basis for reconciliation and renew the Treaty relationship between the Crown and the central North Island iwi.”

Margaret Wilson said she hopes each central North Island iwi will be in a position to give a clear indication as to whether they will be progressing to formal negotiations by early June.

“However, the decision on whether to engage in direct negotiations with the Crown lies with each iwi,” Margaret Wilson said.

Questions and Answers

Iwi-collective approach

What do you mean by a collective iwi approach?

- I have been impressed with the way Central North Island iwi have united to seek to make progress together. I see value in continuing to work together.
Mandate issues
Has the Crown's requirement for mandate changed? Will the Crown simply negotiate with the Central North Island claimant representatives who were involved in the dialogue process?
- The dialogue allowed us to explore some broad issues between the Crown and Central North Island claimants.
- Before any iwi move into formal negotiations, they will need to carry out an open mandating process to ensure their negotiators have the support of the people.

Tribunal process

Will those groups who choose not to enter direct negotiations be disadvantaged?

- The Crown will be fair to all claimants. This includes ensuring that appropriate redress is available for future negotiations.
Can we continue in the Tribunal and do direct negotiations at the same time?
- The Crown is willing to be flexible. There may be ways to allow aspects of the Tribunal inquiry process to continue alongside negotiations.

Just Forests

Why doesn’t the Crown just hand over the forest land?

- The Crown wants to provide forest land redress in the context of settling claims.
- The Crown is proposing negotiations that may take as little as two years. This will meet claimants’ objectives of a speedy return of forest land, and will also settle the claims.
- To transfer the forest land without also settling the claims would not achieve our shared objectives in settling historical Treaty claims.

General

How would the proposal benefit claimants?

- settlement of claims and a healing of the relationship between the Crown and iwi
- returning forest land and other resources for iwi to start to build for their future
- a first step towards establishing healthy and robust relationships required for central North Island communities – and the country as a whole – to benefit from the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.

Will this approach be offered to claimants in other areas (aside from the Central North Island)?

- The Crown has made this offer to Central North Island claimants because of the importance of progressing claims in the area.

ENDS

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