Waikato River settlement win for a sustainable NZ
Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
22 August 2008 Media Statement
Embargoed until 1pm
Waikato River settlement a win for a sustainable New Zealand
The clean up of the Waikato River to follow today’s Deed of Settlement with Waikato-Tainui will be one of the most important environmental undertakings in New Zealand’s history, Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen said today.
The Crown and Waikato-Tainui signed a Deed at Turangawaewae Marae today on the iwi’s claims to the Waikato River. The Deed will create a contestable ‘clean up fund’ to which the Crown will contribute $7 million a year for 30 years.
“The Waikato River is of immense importance to Waikato-Tainui,” Dr Cullen said. “And as our longest River, running through a region of major economic significance, the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River is an issue of national priority.
“Over many generations the River has been polluted and degraded. Waikato-Tainui placed the health of the river at the heart of their negotiations with the Crown and have brought central and local government, other river iwi, and community leaders together to agree on a new, shared vision for the Waikato.
“The clean up of the Waikato River will be one of the most important environmental undertakings in New Zealand’s history. It will call on the efforts of communities and iwi up and down the River and will require significant and ongoing investment from central government.
“At a time when our nation’s sustainable credentials are becoming central to our economic success, we can not afford to allow the health of our most important River to degrade further.
“The Deed of Settlement will allow for an unprecedented era of co-management of the river, with a Guardians committee to include equal numbers of Crown and iwi representatives, with important contributions from local government. I thank Waikato-Tainui for their leadership in getting us to this milestone today and look forward to taking the next steps in our work to clean up the Waikato.”
The Waikato River claim was explicitly excluded from Waikato-Tainui’s 1995 raupatu settlement, with the Crown and Waikato-Tainui agreeing to pick up the claim at a later date. Formal negotiations began in 2005 and an Agreement in Principle was reached in December last year.