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Hapu outlines next steps for NZ Government in Whakatohea

Ngai Tamahaua Hapu Chair Peter T Selwyn today announced next steps for the New Zealand Government in response to the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations’ statement of 22 February 2019 on the Whakatohea Treaty settlement situation.

Mr Selwyn says: “The Hapu have made it clear that dialogue with the New Zealand Government on decolonisation of our territory and reparations can only commence once concrete steps have been made by them to end their divisive mandate policy – in particular, the New Zealand Government must terminate mandate recognition of Whakatohea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust (WPSCT) and their negotiators and withdraw the WPSCT-negotiated Agreement in Principle signed in 2017.”

“I welcome the Minister’s recent realisation of the critical importance of Hapu in future Treaty negotiations,” says Mr Selwyn, “however the Hapu will not start negotiations on settling the historical Treaty violations of the Crown until after a Waitangi Tribunal comprehensive historical inquiry is complete.”

Ngai Tamahaua Hapu claimants Tracy F Hillier and Rita R Wordsworth have also rejected the Minister’s “parallel” scenario and have asked the Tribunal to begin an inquiry without delay. Ms Hillier says: “90% of Whakatohea claimants oppose the WPSCT. The Tribunal’s urgent inquiry into the mandate (Wai 2662 report) exposed the opportunism of the previous government in using a small group at the Whakatohea Maori Trust Board to hijack the mandate. These government paid individuals have failed to unite anyone other than themselves and Ministers must stop this circus.”

A Waitangi Tribunal-directed opinion poll of Whakatohea Hapu was held last year to indicate levels of support for an inquiry or the WPSCT continuing to negotiate. Ngai Tamahaua Hapu did not support participation in the poll and did not supply their register. All participating Hapu voted in favour of a Tribunal inquiry, while WPSCT negotiation only had the support of half the Hapu - the lowest level of support recorded in a live mandate situation.

Ms Hillier says: “The poll considerably under-represents the opposition to the government’s Pre-Settlement Trust. The poll lacked credibility for many reasons: using unauthorised voter rolls that could not be verified, the involvement of the government’s mandated Trust in the process and their overwhelming government funding, the refusal to admit Hapu scrutineers to the count and the result which was not certified. The Minister identifies the poll’s lack of independence when he praises the Trust’s ‘hard work they have done in facilitating the voting process’- a clear conflict of interest that brings the result into question.”

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