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Te Ururoa Flavell: Supplementary Estimates Bill

Appropriations (2007/08 Supplementary Estimates) Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell; Treaty Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Tuesday 24 June 2008; 8.45pm

I rise to contribute to this debate, in referring to Vote Treaty Negotiations.

And in doing so, I acknowledge the importance of this moment, set between the first readings of the Affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapu claims settlement bill earlier today; and the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill tomorrow.

It is indeed a day to be thinking about how effective the departmental output expenses have been; the policy advice; the Waitangi Tribunal representation; the Crown contributions.

Since the settlement process began, there have been grave concerns about the process itself, the terms of settlement, the amount set aside for settlement, and the agency charged with managing settlements.  Those concerns have come from nearly all claimants and their lawyers, from all parts of the country.

This afternoon, in the case of Te Arawa, I spoke of how

the preservation of tribal relations was adversely affected;
hapu were in contest with other hapu;
the interests of overlapping hapu were threatened.
This clearly is not a fitting outcome for the Crown’s investment in Treaty Negotiations.

We heard also, the results of the departmental output expenses:

The Tribunal found that OTS failed to act as an honest broker in the negotiation process;
The Office of Treaty Settlement was shown to have failed to discharge its Treaty and fiduciary duties;
It was noted that OTS did not act honourably and with the utmost good faith.
This too is clearly not an effective use of the Crown accounts? But the good news is that the landscape has changed with Dr Cullen’s approach and that is to be applauded.

Mr Speaker, there is huge emotion that comes with reaching a settlement; the power and the passion of the people in having finally achieved a point in their long journey towards self-determination.

We understand that as with Te Arawa today, there is a wish to move forwards; a desire that we in the Maori Party fully recognise.

We know that the divisions and the conflicts of the settlement process have taken an enormous toll – and because of it, the longing for resolution is intense.  Our people yearn for the restoration of respectful relationships to repair the damage done.

But the healing will not occur when there are still some groups left behind or forgotten.  Healing will not occur when the Crown alone determined the rules under which negotiations took place.  Resolution will not result when some negotiators have felt that the Crown has used its dominant position to control the entire negotiations process and had an adversarial approach.

And so, we in the Maori Party, look to a different future, a future where the Maori Party is having the influence and impact on the Treaty Settlement process that our people are calling for.

And what would that look like?

For a start, we would promote the concept of sitting, kanohi ki te kanohi; face to face – discussions, chief to chief.  

Negotiations should take place between equally resourced and informed parties, ideally on a level playing field with full disclosure of information at the outset of proceedings.

Another bone of contention has been the inadequate level of resourcing that is associated with the negotiations process.

The fact that all groups are required to pay for their own mandating expenses before the Crown even agrees to negotiate creates a level of injustice and hardship before one even gets to the table.

Claimant funds should be reviewed and increased so that the opportunity for development is not compromised.

The question of who has the permission to enter discussions with the Crown; and those who purport to speak for the hapu before and during negotiations is of huge interest for hapu and iwi. This needs to be sorted early.

Similarly, where there are issues of cross claims, we believe that these can be sorted by discussion and before we get to settlement so it does not come back to haunt the process later on down the line.

There have been other issues with the Crown negotiating directly with large natural groups of iwi / hapu, to the detriment of smaller hapu, whose claims have been lost or ignored by the larger claim. 

The Maori Party looks forward to being able to put our experiences of being on both sides of the table – as Members of Parliament; and as members of whanau, hapu and iwi to good use after the next election in the interests of the durability of future settlements; and the long term path to nationhood.

Kia ora tatou.


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