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Treaty negotiations apart from political issues

Treaty negotiations kept apart from political issues

Comments that negotiations over Whanganui River Treaty claims would slow down if Tariana Turia abandoned the Labour Party are untrue, Treaty Negotiations Minister Margaret Wilson said today.

"I have been at pains to ensure the foreshore and seabed issue does not slow down progress we are making in negotiating Treaty settlements.

"From the Crown's point of view, we have always been ready and willing to progress negotiations.

"In the case of Whanganui iwi, the difficulty has been a possible court case and its ramifications for the terms of negotiation between the iwi and Crown, signed last year."

Whanganui iwi applied to the Maori Land Court to determine the Maori customary land status of all land in their rohe, including the bed of the Whanganui River.

"This was inconsistent with the Terms of Negotiation signed by the Crown and Whanganui iwi on 6 March 2003, in which both parties agreed not to pursue before a court or tribunal redress over any areas subject to negotiations.

"The Crown has not broken off negotiations, but rather has continued to engage with the iwi, giving them time to think about how they wish to proceed.

"I look forward to notification from Whanganui iwi clarifying its intentions. "

"While this government is anxious to reach settlements in a timely manner, we can only negotiate at a pace that the claimant group are happy with. No group ready to negotiate has been turned away by the Crown.

The Crown is currently in discussions with approximately 25 claimant groups, including Waikato Tainui.

"In fact I am meeting with Tainui later this month to discuss the status of their claim over the Waikato river."

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