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Govt honours pledge on Treaty claim time limit

28 June 2006

Govt honours pledge on Treaty claim time limit

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia last night introduced legislation to Parliament which proposes a time limit for registering historical claims with the Waitangi Tribunal.

Parekura Horomia said the legislation is delivering on one of Labour's election pledges for all historical Treaty claims to be lodged by 1 September 2008, with the aim of settling all claims by 2020.

"We recognise the importance for Maori and for all of New Zealand of settling all historical Treaty claims as soon as possible.

"A time limit on registering historical claims will allow Mâori to change focus from identifying breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi to concentrating on reaching settlements with the Crown.

"Settlements give claimants the chance to develop their tribal structures, safeguard their regional interests, invest in the education of their children, re-build the tribal estates and take part in business.

"Registering a claim does not mean that all the details of the claim have to be made, nor does it prevent any Claim submitted to the Tribunal on or before 1 September 2008 from being amended. Further details on the claim can be provided at a later date.

"This proposed date is one of several current policy initiatives closely linked to the Government's target of settling all historical Treaty of Waitiangi claims by 2020.

“The recently announced increase in the funding for the Office of Treaty Settlements will allow more settlements to be negotiated at any one time. We are also looking at ways of streamlining the settlement process so that once Mâori are committed to a settlement they can be achieved more quickly. The result of those efforts will be announced later this year.

"The extended notice of the time limit will ensure that all Mâori will be aware of the need to identify claims before it comes into affect. We will also be ensuring Mâori are aware that the limit applies only to historical claims for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. Contemporary claims – claims relating to events after 1992 – are not affected.

“Without a registered claim, Mâori can still settle their claims with the Crown through the direct negotiation process, as there is no statutory constraint on who the Crown may choose to deal with,” Mr Horomia said.

The Mâori Purposes Bill will also:

- Increase the capacity of the Mâori Land Court to deal with issues arising from the increasing Mâori asset base, and

- Ensure key provisions of the Mâori Fisheries Act 2004 and the Mâori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 are carried out as intended.”

“The increase in the number of permanent judges of the Mâori Land Court reflects the increasing Mâori asset base and the increasing roles for the Court following the passage of the Mâori Fisheries Act 2004, the Mâori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 and the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. It is important we have an efficient legal system within which Mâori can use those assets and additional rights to maximum advantage.

“The Bill will also clarify aspects of the Mâori Fisheries Act 2004, and the Mâori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 to ensure key provisions of these Acts are carried out as intended,” Mr Horomia said.

ENDS

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