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Historical Claims Dealt With By 2012

Minister Predicts Historical Claims Dealt With By 2012

Friday 9th Jul 1999

Muriel Newman

Media Release -- Social Welfare

The Government is predicting that on current progress the Waitangi Tribunal will have dealt with historical Treaty claims by 2012.

Minister for Courts, Georgina Te Heuheu predicted that the Tribunal would be through the historical claims by 2012 in answer to a written question from ACT Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman.

However, Muriel Newman says that without a time limit in place for the fair, full and final settlement of all claims, on current progress, the process could go on for hundreds of years.

Speaking to an electorate meeting in Whangarei today, Muriel Newman said that in the 24 years since the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 was enacted, less than 30 claims had been settled. Just over one each year. "At that rate it would take at least 600 years to settle the 779 claims registered with the Tribunal so far," she said.

"The Minister also points out in her answer that unless Parliament decides otherwise, Maori may continue to submit claims to the Waitangi Tribunal.

"There are already more than 700 claims before the Waitangi Tribunal with more being lodged every year and no time limit set for all claims to be in.

"If the Minister believes that the Tribunal can in fact get through the historical claims by 2012, it begs the question why the Government wouldn't support Hon Derek Quigley's Bill to set 2010 as the deadline for the fair, full and final settlement of all treaty claims.

"The claims process is clearly absorbing Maori leadership. It is taking their focus off the plight of Maori families. The Minister of Treaty Settlements has already this year raised his concern that Treaty claim grievances could be behind the high Maori crime rate. Just this week the head of the Women's Refuge, Merepeka Raukawa Tait highlighted the need to resolve legitimate treaty grievances to allow Maori leadership to focus on the crisis within Maori families.

"Statistics clearly that show Maori children are six times more likely to end up jail than non-Maori and 12 times more likely to suffer child abuse.

"It is imperative that the plight of children in those families that are not coping is addressed. While we are settling the grievances of the past, the problems of the future generations of Maori are being created.

"If we don't start doing better for our children today, they will become the angry young men and women of tomorrow who will demand accountability from the leaders who ignored their plight.

"Maori families need help now. The settlement process is doing nothing to help those who are struggling at the bottom of the pile. Treaty settlement proceeds are simply not reaching them.

"What will help them is a positive focus on the present and the future. Sir Douglas Graham himself said in an address in April that 'once the baggage of the past is put behind us all, there is every reason to believe that young Maori will have the same chance of success as enjoyed by everyone else'.

"The truth is that the human cost of letting the settlement process drift on indefinitely is just too high. There has to be an end to it. Without legislation like Derek Quigley's Bill to set a time limit for the fair, full and final settlement of all Treaty claims the grievances will not be put behind us. Any predictions of an end point are otherwise only wishful thinking," said Muriel Newman.

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