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Parliament Has Duty to Put Matters Right

Te Urewera Tuhoe Bill:

Parliament Has Duty to Put Matters Right

Parliament must now make amends after the High Court of New Zealand, on 29 May 2014, overturned a Waitangi Tribunal decision that prevented two iwi from being heard by the tribunal, says New Zealand First.

At the second reading of the Te Urewera - Tuhoe Bill, New Zealand First Leader Rt Winston Peters pointed out that serious boundary issues were being improperly dealt with in the bill.

Members of the National Party, including Minister for Treaty Negotiations Christopher Finlayson and Māori Affairs Select Committee chairman Tau Henare, scoffed at such a suggestion.

They both should now publicly apologise for their wanton ignorance, says Mr Peters.

“Now, much to their embarrassment, the High Court has agreed with the position New Zealand First took.

“Before the Te Urewera -Tuhoe Bill is passed Parliament has the opportunity, and a duty, to address the concerns of Te Upokorehe and Ngati Ruapani,” says Mr Peters.

“New Zealand First has consistently said we must not attempt to correct a longstanding wrong by creating another wrong.

“We recognise Tuhoe’s grievance, and we have never thought otherwise, but we have also expressed concern that legitimate iwi, recognised by respected parliamentarian Sir Apirana Ngata, have had their claims sidelined,” says Mr Peters.

Te Upokorehe and Ngāti Ruapani had previously sought urgent hearings with the Waitangi Tribunal on the impact of the settlement but these were declined and the Tuhoe settlement moved on towards conclusion. It is now before Parliament.

The iwi went to the High Court for a judicial review. The court has now ruled in their favour, saying that the decisions to decline the hearings were invalid as the Maori Land Court judge making the tribunal decision did not have the status to make these rulings when sitting alone.

“New Zealand First has always held the view that Treaty of Waitangi settlements must be right. This is not happening for these two iwi. That is why New Zealand First voted against the Tuhoe settlement bill on its second reading last month,” says Mr Peters.

“We were disturbed at the time of the vote to see other political parties totally ignoring legitimate iwi concerns,” he says.


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