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Crown to consider council offer of Waitara lands

31 March 2004 - Media Statement

Crown to consider council offer of Waitara lands

Treaty Negotations Minister Margaret Wilson today congratulated the New Plymouth District Council on its decision to offer the Waitara lands to the Crown for eventual return to local Maori.

"The Crown has been working in cooperation with local government on this issue. I'm very pleased to see it moved to the next step.

"The Crown is yet to make a decision on whether to accept the council's offer to include the Waitara lands in a settlement of Te Atiawa's historical Treaty claims.

"I'll be taking a paper to Cabinet shortly.

"The most important thing now is that Te Atiawa get some resolution on their mandating issues so we can re-enter negotiations."

The Crown and Te Atiawa negotiators signed a heads of agreement to settle all Te Atiawa's historical claims in Taranaki in 1999, which included financial redress of $34 million, Margaret Wilson said.

Since 2000, negotiations with Te Atiawa have been on hold while mandating issues are being worked through.

"The council has always been very concerned to ensure that the existing rights of the leaseholders are preserved. I've noted the Waitara Leaseholders Association's intention to take legal action against the council's decision. I respect that's their right, and hope that the result of that case will clarify the respective legal obligations in terms of the leaseholders."

Margaret Wilson said that if the Crown was to accept the council's offer:

- nothing could happen until a settlement with Te Atiawa was finalised, - the value of the Waitara lands would be offset against the $34 million - the council would continue to own and manage the lands until a settlement was finalised - the Crown would not be involved in any leaseholder issues in the interim


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