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Flavell: CNI Forests Collective Settlement Bill

Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Tena koe Madam Speaker. Tena koutou e hoa ma i tenei ata.

The 25th June 2008 was one of those unique moments in Parliamentary history. The down side for me was I was not here. I was in fact away at a tangi and arrived back into the house to have a call in the Act slot and following on from my co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples.

One could not help but feel though, that something significant had happened that day. I am of course referring to the first reading of the CNI Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill.

Madam Speaker, as the Member of Parliament for Waiariki, I was very disappointed that I was not here to witness a piece of history, engari e kore e taea te karo i te karanga a mate, one cannot escape the call of those who have passed on.

The taxi driver commented on the migration of Maori here as we headed from the airport back to Parliament. People talked of kuia and koroua; whanau, children; babies in arms, all drawn to this place to be part of history in the making. It seemed that everywhere you turned, there were Maori.

When I finally got into the house, the public galleries that were crowded earlier in the day, had thinned out as people moved off to a kai and to celebrate.

The Maori Party acknowledges that day, we acknowledge those that made it happen – Te Ariki Dr Tumu Te Heuheu; the iwi negotiators; Matt Te Pou; the Ministers, Dr Cullen in particular and Wira Gardiner on their pursuit of kotahitanga as the underlying principle – the focus of unity.

As I did at first reading, I give credit where credit is due and I acknowledge Dr Michael Cullen for leading a new approach that sees us considering a heap of settlements prior to the close off of Parliament.

Madam Speaker, the Select Committee report describes the complexity that is associated with the mandate issues within iwi of the collective but clearly the approach taken to achieve kötahitanga within ourselves has been achieved, for the most part.

We certainly heard in the Select Committee as other speakers have spoken about, from those had issues, but considering the task, Matiu Te Pou and Wira Gardiner must take a great deal of credit.

This would never be a straight-forward procedure, a straight-forward exercise.

The iwi making up the collective are: Ngai Tuhoe; Ngati Manawa; Ngati Tuwharetoa; Ngati Whakaue; Ngati Whare; Raukawa; and the affiliate Te Arawa iwi/hapu are all detailed in the bill. There is space there for Ngati Rangitihi, and I am hopeful of hearing at the Committee stages about progress of the meeting that was held over the weekend.

This collective is a significant grouping of iwi. Having followed this process from the start, it was pleasing to see the move from caution at hui like at Waitetoko last year, to kotahitanga, to unity.

I am clear in myself that getting to consensus views would not have been reached without fierce and robust debate in that sort of forum. And so it should be. There is much at stake here so all of the lead in should be given the utmost scrutiny.

Amongst all of this is Ngati Whaoa who for all intents and purposes may classed as a small player. I spoke about this matter in the Te Arawa Affiliates Bill. The desire on the part of Te Runanga o Ngati Whaoa to uncouple themselves from Ngati Tahu is clear and I have statements from the Runanga of Ngati Whaoa to confirm this.

I will raise this issue again in the Committee stages of this Bill but it is a major issue. Why? Because Ngati Whaoa have not insignificant interests in the Central North Island Forests under mana whenua.

Small iwi, significant interests. But their place in the scheme of things will be gone, lost in fact by way of their being firstly coupled with Ngati Tahu and then wrapped into the Te Arawa Affiliates. I will continue to do the best I can to represent the interests of Te Runanga o Ngati Whaoa who have asked me to take up their concerns.

We know that this settlement, like every settlement, carries with it the legacy of the generations before. The CNI settlement is no different. People have passed on, but have left behind matters that can be only addressed within and between the hapu and iwi who form this collective.

I remain hopeful that matters of concern will be sorted out internally for it is clear that the damage done between and among whanau, hapu and iwi will be long lasting and talked about on our marae for years to come. Mr Pita Paraone spoke about that in his speech.

Mandate processes

As we know now, mandate concerns were raised to do with Ngati Manawa, Ngati Hikairo, and Ngati Rangitihi and as I say Ngati Whaoa, Ngati Tahu.

There were accusations of people feeling they were not receiving basic information; suggestions that there was inconsistencies around all those who could say they speak for a tribe; reports of people being shut down at hui.

While I and others on the Select Committee might have concerns about some of the accusations, it is significant that the Crown believes these issues are best dealt with by those iwi and hapu themselves. I have to say I conclude with that view - iwi must hold their own to account and deal with issues themselves internally.

I must add to be clear, this is intra-iwi. Where there is inter-iwi and a settlement is at stake, I say, the new model of rangatira ki te rangatira with experienced facilitators can work and would save a heap of stress at the business end. It is important that resolution is achieved if it results in long term gain for the people.

Madam Speaker, today we acknowledge the significance of the four hundred million dollars plus Settlement as providing a foundation for our future, the people of Te Waiariki.

Much has been made of the return of 176,000 hectares which will make Maori the largest forestry operators in the country.

There has been much made also that the collective ownership – the large natural grouping –there has been a lot of talk about that - it brings together seven iwi representing 100,000 people. We know too, that the settlement will make these iwi one of the largest investors in Aotearoa.

These are all significant features of the settlement but we can not lose sight of the injustices that are a part and parcel of every settlement process.

That is, that at its core, compensation is only ever a fraction of the losses experienced.

We, as the Maori Party, will not be quiet about the ongoing anomalies that must be responded to in the broader context of settlement policy. We will continue to raise the issues around cross-claims, and timeframes, and decisions made in haste.

But today is a day to recognise the precedent established by this Bill.

This settlement is innovative in the way in which it is iwi driven and tikanga based.

The tikanga-based mana whenua resolution process set out in Schedule two of the Bill is a really interesting concept that we welcome as the initiative of the iwi involved.

The concept involving three different criteria in the consideration of mana whenua – ahi ka roa, ahi tahutahu and ahi maataotao – and three different tiers – negotiation, mediation and adjudication – and this provides an innovative model for other iwi to examine.

The matter of the split of rentals money to iwi versus mana whenua is at the heart of concerns by submitters but I will talk to that at Committee stage. Ngati Manawa, for example, have significant mana whenua over the land yet get 6% of rentals. An explanation of that would be appreciated.

It is of note too, that the Waitangi Tribunal in its report on the Native Land Court’s investigation for Kaingaroa no 1, suggested a fluid, overlapping and complex layering of interests. It may well be that the process the CNI negotiators and iwi have come with, satisfies addressing this point although the proof will be in the purini – in the pudding.

Perhaps a mark of how our people have viewed this settlement, has been the lack of strong and co-ordinated public opposition to it. While there have been issues raised, Madam Speaker, it would be fair to say that the unique process the collective has followed, has received a positive response.

And in fact, only a week after the signing, three Northern leaders drew out comparisons for arrangements that might work say for Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine and Ngati Whatua.

Raniera Tau, Erima Henare, and Maori Party List member, Naida Glavish; have sent a call to their respective iwi organisations to explore the potential of the CNI process for advancing their own collective claims.

At the other end of the country, Te Wai Pounamu, Ngai Tahu have also been watching on in terms of how this settlement will impact on the potential relativity top-up as it relates to the billion dollar cap.

In June, my co-leader, Dr Sharples, asked the Minister of Finance about the implications of this Bill for the ratchet clause relativity mechanism. His response was that the point in which such a mechanism would apply could be expected to occur probably within the next two or three years in terms of reaching the point of 1994 dollar terms.

But as Otakou runanga chairman Tahu Potiki pointed out, and I quote, “there is definitely some subjectivity with the whole thing”.

And so, Madam Speaker, there are so many eyes on CNI, watching the progress of the settlement and contemplating what it could mean.

There is every opportunity for the economic development of the iwi involved in this settlement to prosper; to increase the original investment and to generate greater value and higher returns.

And so we come to the culmination of over two decades of energetic and inspired negotiations to bring this claim to a conclusion, well at least tomorrow it will be.

This Bill represents a great deal of work since the passage of the Crown Forests Assets Act in 1989.

The Central North Island forest estate is an area not just of economic value but huge cultural significance as well.

The generosity of the iwi in agreeing to preserve and enhance existing public access is an incredible statement of the iwi to the nation, and we in this House must always remember that gift.

The Maori Party will support this Bill at its second reading.


ENDS

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