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Treaty settlements "a drop in the ocean"

Maori Party says $1m a year for Treaty settlements a ‘grain of sand on the foreshore and a mere drop in the ocean’

Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, Co-leaders, Maori Party

Monday 8 May 2006

The Maori Party today called the new funding of just over $1m a year to Treaty Settlements "a grain of sand in the foreshore and a mere drop in the ocean".

“The funding of $5m to be drip-fed over four years, is a token amount which will do little to advance the significant challenge of the resolution of historical Treaty claims” said Dr Pita Sharples, co-leader, Maori Party.

“The ability for iwi to be able to resolve their Treaty claims expeditiously, with settlements that are fair, timely and durable is a key issue in nation-building” stated Dr Sharples.

“I recall that a Herald on Sunday-DigiPoll conducted just before Election 2005 showed 57% of respondents thought Treaty settlement filing deadlines would assist the final resolution of claims for the good of the country. The money promised in Budget 2006 will do very little to respond to those calls”.

“It is also disappointing that the Waitangi Tribunal appears again, to have been side-lined” stated Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

The report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur gave particular prominence to the work of the Tribunal stating that “As it continues to play a significant role in the recovery of Maori human rights, the Tribunal should receive more funding to bring hundreds of outstanding claims to a satisfactory conclusion”.

“If the Government was really committed to dealing with the claims, it would have provided enhanced resourcing to the Waitangi Tribunal” said Mrs Turia.

“The Tribunal has been the primary vehicle for the truth and reconciliation aspects of treaty claims - where people can tell their stories, and their unique histories recorded for the benefit of the nation. If funding isn’t allocated to increase the Tribunal’s capacity to respond, then quite simply the process won’t work”.

“Of course the glaring omission from this release is that it neglects to do anything to change the fact that the Crown are settling at only about 2% of real value of claims” said Dr Sharples.

As the Special Rapporteur noted, such redress as may be negotiated in the historical claims process seems to fall far short of “just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered”.

“After all, the claims are about justice, and any reparation should be sufficient to address the issues for which the claim was made” stated Dr Sharples.

Ends

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