Treaty claimants like cattle in a stockyard
Treaty claimants like cattle in a stockyard – Maori Party
Te Ururoa Flavell, Treaty settlements spokesperson 2 September 2008
The rush of last-minute Treaty claims is a sign of serious problems in the settlement process, according to the Maori Party.
Treaty claims spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell says iwi and hapu are clearly concerned that the closing off of historical claims will prejudice them, and a thousand claimants are taking the only option they have to protect their interests.
“A thousand new claims is around half the total number filed in the thirty years since the Tribunal was established. It appears that all the settlements reached to date are not actually resolving the problems,” said Mr Flavell.
“It makes you wonder how many of the recent rush of a thousand claims relate to injustices created during the sudden flurry of settlements, pushed through by the government in the dying days of this Parliament.
“It is one of the Crown’s own principles of the Treaty that provision of redress for one Treaty breach should not create another – but even that is apparently subject to the over-riding need to try to win the next election,” he said.
“The news that Ngai Tahu is one of the iwi who have lodged a further claim under the Treaty of Waitangi is very serious, because their new claim covers both old and new issues.
“Part of it concerns the way the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme could wipe tens of millions of dollars from the value of Ngai Tahu’s 1998 Treaty settlement – because they will never be able to use their forestry lands for anything else, without paying huge deforestation taxes.
“To Ngai Tahu, such activity threatens the finality and integrity of their settlement, but also represents the constant uncertainty of an environment in which the Crown unilaterally unwinds Treaty settlements,” said Mr Flavell.
“But, tragically, Ngai Tahu also state that the Crown has reneged on its duty to help protect the iwi’s reo and tikanga. In other words, their Treaty partner does not really care about who they are – and this new claim is designed to get the Crown to reaffirm its commitment to the original partnership.
“You get the idea that iwi are like cattle being drafted through the races in a stockyard – and the Crown has just shut the gate. The closing off of historical claims is no way to resolve these issues – the whole settlement process needs to be redesigned,” said Mr Flavell.