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Treaty of Waitangi settlements momentum

Treaty of Waitangi settlements momentum

The rate of progress of Treaty of Waitangi settlements has increased and the budget provides a further $5.58 million over four years to cater for streamlined processes and greater negotiations activity.

The extra resources are required to support the Government‘s expectation that there will be at least two settlements per year, and the fact that more groups are preparing for settlement negotiations.

An extra $3.58 million over the next four years ($895,000 annually) is required for increased negotiations activity. There are currently more claimant groups in negotiation than ever before. The new claims development team within the Office of Treaty Settlements, established last year, is also assisting more claimant groups prepare to enter the negotiations process.

Recent developments have seen negotiations commence with Whanganui River iwi, with Ngati Whatua o Orakei from central Auckland and with Ngati Kahu in the Far North, and pre-negotiation discussion commence with central North Island claimants. Taranaki claims are also progressing, with legislation enacting the Ngati Ruanui settlement passed and legislation enacting the Ngati Tama settlement introduced to Parliament. An extra $2 million over the next four years will assist the Crown meet the demands of the Waitangi Tribunal’s "new approach" for district inquiries, as tested for the first time last year in Gisborne. This approach sees historical claims in a district heard collectively and reported on at the same time under a new, faster process that could see all historical-claim inquiries completed within 10 years.

The money covers the cost of Crown representation under the streamlined approach, which better prepares claimants for the negotiation and settlement process, provides a more efficient and effective inquiry forum, and compresses district inquiry timeframes by up to four years.

This is in addition to provision last year for the Waitangi Tribunal to receive additional funding of $0.5 million per annum in 2002-03 and 2003-04 to support the transition to the new approach, and an additional $0.3 million in 2004-05 and $0.2 million for out-years to provide improved administrative support and research capability.

These initiatives, and others, will help increase the overall pace of settlements while ensuring the integrity of the process is not compromised.

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