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Waikato River Agreement in Principle signed

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
16 December 2007

Waikato River Agreement in Principle signed

Waikato-Tainui and the Crown have reached a major milestone towards the settlement of the tribe’s Waikato River claim.

An Agreement in Principle, negotiated by Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Michael Cullen on behalf of the Crown and the Co-Negotiators for Waikato-Tainui, Tukoroirangi Morgan and Lady Raiha Mahuta, was signed today at a special meeting of the tribal Parliament for Waikato-Tainui, Te Kauhanganui o Waikato.

“This is the fourth Agreement in Principle in the past six months and the second in four days. Other historical Treaty of Waitangi claims are also close to reaching agreements, and I look forward to this exceptional rate of progress continuing into the coming months,” said Dr Cullen.

“A shared commitment to the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River is the cornerstone of the agreement. This settlement will give new impetus to the way the river is managed on behalf of all New Zealanders while recognising the special relationship and significance of the river to Waikato-Tainui.”

A draft agreement was released in May 2007 for consultation with Waikato River iwi, local bodies and others with an interest in the settlement. The agreement signed at Te Kauhanganui o Waikato today incorporates the results of that consultation and further negotiations between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui.

Waikato-Tainui will be joined by the other Waikato River iwi and representatives of the Waikato and wider communities to establish a vision and strategy as the foundation for a new integrated approach to managing the river.

The settlement will provide a new management structure for the river. This includes 'Guardians of the Waikato River' reflecting the full community of interest in the river, as well as a statutory board to facilitate the participation of Waikato-Tainui in the co-management of the river within and affecting the area from Karapiro to the sea.

“There is still much work to be done to put these new arrangements in place, but this agreement affirms the Crown’s commitment to its relationship with Waikato-Tainui. It lays the foundation for an exciting new era of enlightened management of a major natural resource,” said Dr Cullen.

ENDS

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