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Don’t trifle with Treaty claim deadlines

Don’t trifle with Treaty claim deadlines

Political parties shouldn’t “trifle” with Treaty of Waitangi claims by making them an election issue, according to Maori Party candidate Robert Consedine.

The Pakeha ranked at number six on the Party List is the only non-Maori in its top 25. He was chosen because of his expertise and 20 years of experience as a treaty educator and campaigner.

He said the main reason for the apparent slowness in settling treaty claims was that both the process and settlements themselves had been under-funded by both National and Labour governments.

“Yet both parties have done quite a lot for treaty grievance claims over the 20 years since the process began, and we’ve made good progress overall. They shouldn’t lose their nerve now just because of the election.”

Mr Consedine was commenting on Labour’s intention to announce deadlines for lodging historical claims before the formal election campaign starts in a bid to take the head of the race relations debate. National, NZ First and United Future have all disclosed policies that put deadlines on lodging and settling claims.

“The Waitangi Trinbual Process is actually a magnificent process,” Mr Consedine said. “It has enabled Maori to tell their stories for the first time in history, in a forum where they are heard and where they get a response from the Crown.

“Telling of such stories is part of the healing, and that’s part of the journey, but it can’t be done fully if it’s hurried.”

Since it began in 1986 the tribunal system of hearing grievances had become a role model, and so far 15 countries have come to New Zealand to study our process.

The Maori Party’s official policy is to conduct a full review of the Waitangi Trinbunal, the Office of Treaty Settlements and the current treaty settlement process.

The party has committed “to design arrangements leading to the speedy settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims that are equitable and durable”.

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