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CFRT Welcomes Government Response

24 February 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CFRT Welcomes Government Response

The CFRT has welcomed the Crown's statement today on the MASC Report.

The CFRT feels that the Government has taken a constructive approach that will enable the Board to continue focusing on reform without major distraction. It will discuss the recommendations with the Crown over coming months.

Nevertheless, the Trust clearly acknowledges the Crown's, and MASC's, concerns, and the need to have made significant progress within a year.

It is confident it will meet this deadline, as action is underway on several fronts:

First, the Trust Board started an extensive review of its activity in August 2003. The review was endorsed by the Board in December 2003. The key points that resulted from the review were:

* The Trust does not settle claims, but must act as a facilitator within the settlement process

* That clearer, more transparent and consistent processes be established

* That the Trust must pursue practical options with the Crown and Maori to expedite the return of forestry assets as soon as possible

Second, the former Chief Executive of the Trust took leave in December and resigned in January. Ben Dalton has been appointed Acting Chief Executive. The process for selecting a new Chief Executive is underway.

Third, a transitional management structure was approved by the Trust on 12 January to implement the changes. The first stage of the transition will be completed by June 2004. Existing projects will continue in the meantime.

Fourth, the Board has decided that over the next six months the focus of the Trust will be on:

* Clarifying CFRT criteria and application processes, and informing claimant groups

* Returning responsibility for and control of claims back to claimant groups

* Establishing better co-ordination with the Waitangi Tribunal and the Office of Treaty Settlements

* Completing the current phase of historical research investigating ownership and legal status of land in the Central North Island

* Significantly reducing internal expenditure

Board sub-committees are working on all these areas. Further statements will be issued as decisions are made.

Ends

The Crown Forestry Rental Trust is an independent trust jointly established by the Crown and Maori. It receives no taxpayer funding.

The main purpose of Trust is the management and administration of interest earned from investment of rental proceeds from Crown forest licenced land.

It uses this to assist Maori claimants in the preparation, presentation and negotiation of claims before the Waitangi Tribunal.

The current members of the Trust Board are:
Maori appointees: Sir Graham Latimer, Paul Morgan, Kingi Smiler
Crown appointees: Maryan Street, Greg Fortuin, Angela Foulkes


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