Crown’s next steps for Whakatōhea are disingenuous
6 March 2019
On 22 February 2019, Minister Andrew Little announced next steps for the Crown in response to Whakatōhea’s vote last year on the future of their Treaty claims.
The vote resulted in a narrow majority supporting the Whakatōhea Pre-settlement claims Trust to continue negotiating a settlement with the Crown whilst all six hapū voted in support of a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into their claims.
Despite this, Minister Little has announced that he has asked officials to consider a Tribunal Inquiry process parallel or subsequent to negotiations. “I intend to explore this possibility and other options for building support before deciding whether to resume negotiations” says Andrew Little.
Claimants for the historical claim of Ngāti Ira hapū reject exploring the notion that a Tribunal Inquiry could run parallel to or subsequent to negotiations.
“That is not what claimants asked for nor did the hapū vote on that as one of the questions. It only demonstrates that Minister Little is again, ill-advised by his officials and is pre-determining the destiny of our Treaty claims by making such a public announcement without any consultation with those that are most affected. ” says Ms Hata, one of the Ngāti Ira claimants.
“We have written to the Minister and we demand a response. His announcement is causing further division and confusion amongst hapū. The questions to vote on were contradictory as it was. He is disingenuous if he thinks any of the claimants supported by their hapu would agree to the Pre-settlement Trust continuing to negotiate any claims whilst they are before a Tribunal Inquiry"
“The mandate should be withdrawn, a Tribunal Inquiry held for Whakatōhea into their claims and then fresh mandating processes begin. Otherwise we are repeating what is happening in Ngāpuhi and we will still be here in 5 years’ time going around in circles” states Te Rua Rakuraku, lead claimant for Ngāti Ira. “Our hapu have spoken, we voted for a Tribunal Inquiry – not a parallel process or anything else”
Ngāti Ira claim that the vote in support of the Settlement Trust is still below OTS' threshold for a robust mandate and that the loss of support for the Trust is clear as votes in favour of the Mandate markedly decreased from 91.6% in the 2016 vote to 56% in the 2018 vote. Four out of six hapū, 67%, opposed the Trust continuing to negotiate. "If a 63% hapū vote was good enough for Ngāpuhi why isn't it good enough for Whakatōhea?" asks Ms Hata.