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Finlayson Attacks Treaty Protestors

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has criticised the occupation of Kaitaia Airport saying it was oafish behaviour by a small group of people who did not represent the local iwi.

Parliament sat this morning to pass two Treaty settlement bills these included the Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill. The bill gives effect to the deeds of settlement in which the Crown and Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, NgaiTakoto, and Te Rarawa agreed to the final settlement of the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of those iwi.

Yesterday protesters, with ties to Ngati Kahu, occupied Kaitaia Airport and stopped flights. The iwi have not reached a settlement with the Crown and say the settlement with Ngai Takoto was taking away their right of ownership.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said there had been questions about the status of the airport and what he said were misleading reports on the issue.

Kaitiai airport was a LINZ property and the subject of claims from the two iwi and both were able to purchase half shares in the airport under the deferred selection process in the Bill. If Ngati Kahu did not settle within three years then Ngai Takoto had the right to purchase the airport outright, though it would have to remain an airport

Mr Finlayson hoped Ngati Kahu settled, but the progress of one iwi could not be held up by another that did not wish to settle. He said those occupying the airport did not represent the iwi and there was no place for their “oafish behaviour”.

Labour’s Kelvin Davis said he had concerns about the occupation of the airport and particularly it preventing the transport of medical personnel to the local hospital.

Northland MP Winston Peters said the question was whether the protestors had a valid claim and the answer to that was not known. It was important to the region that the airport was open for business and the Government should sort it out.

A clearly annoyed Mr Finlayson told Mr Peters the protestors had no right to occupy the airport and said again both iwi had rights to the airport and it was up to them to settle with the Crown.

The bill completed its committee stage on a voice vote and its third reading divided into six bills on a voice vote.

Earlier the committee stage and third reading of the Te Kawerau ā Maki Claims Settlement Bill on voice votes.

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