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Desperate Minister trying to stitch up Treaty legacy

MEDIA STATEMENT

On behalf of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust

21 August 2017

Desperate Minister trying to stitch up Treaty legacy

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust says it is inexcusable that the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations has secretly initialled a Deed of Settlement with Ngāti Paoa, despite the matter currently being before the Court of Appeal.

Only three weeks ago Minister Finlayson confirmed in Parliament that, “The last thing I want to do through a Treaty settlement, or rushing through a Treaty settlement, is to create further grievance. These matters need to be handled sensitively.”

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesman Ngarimu Blair says the Hapū has acted in good faith and taken the Minister at his word, but can now see the writing on the wall.

“The Minister is simply trying to ensure his legacy by signing as many Treaty deals as possible before the election. In doing so, he’s trampling all over existing settlements,” says Mr Blair.

“Ignoring the fact that we currently have a case before the Court of Appeal is not only arrogant, it’s disrespectful and lacks the integrity we expect of a New Zealand Government.”

The matters in dispute are similar to those in Tauranga Moana, where a settlement goes beyond acknowledging interests to effectively give iwi rights and mana when they have not maintained ahi kaa or had an on-going presence.

“Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has expressed significant and repeated concerns over the potential transfer of properties from within our central rohe to Ngāti Paoa and the Marutūāhu/Hauraki Collective,” says Mr Blair.

“The current approach to overlapping claims is a fundamental breach of tikanga and of our Treaty rights, and as a Trust, we have a duty to protect the interests and mana of our people.”

Minister Finlayson had also said in Parliament on 27 July that the Government is “very conscious of the desire not to have any overlapping interests lead to further contention.”

Mr Blair says the initialling of the Ngāti Paoa settlement is clearly contentious given the Court process that is underway, and it is unbelievable that many Ngāti Paoa people were not informed of their own signing until the last minute, if at all.

“This shoddy process undermines the integrity of the entire Treaty of Waitangi settlement process,” he says.

“How can iwi believe our relationship with the Government or this Minister is meaningful given this sort of behaviour?

“It appears iwi are being denied access to justice and the opportunity to resolve this matter purely because this Minister wants his name on a few more settlements before the election.”

ENDS


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