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Central North Island negotiations take shape

11 December 2003 Media Statement

Central North Island negotiations take shape

The Crown and central North Island iwi are gearing up to start Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations, having made dramatic progress since dialogue began this time last year.

The Crown has been talking with the large tribal confederations of Ngäti Tüwharetoa, Te Arawa, Tuhoe, Ngäti Manawa and Ngäti Whare, whose claims stretch from Taupo to the Bay of Plenty, and which include the Kaingaroa Forest. It is estimated that 100,000 Mäori belong to these iwi.

The Crown and the iwi set themselves the ambitious goal of reaching agreement on settlement within two years.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Margaret Wilson says the government is committed to settling Treaty grievances in a responsible and durable manner and this goodwill had been matched by iwi leadership’s skill in bringing such large tribes to the negotiating table.

The iwi have been preparing for negotiations by mandating representatives to negotiate with the Crown. Each has undertaken an extensive process, including hui (meetings) of constituent hapü. The Crown is now working with iwi to confirm that the proposed negotiators have the support of their people:

- The Crown and Ngäti Tüwharetoa are seeking submissions on their Deed of Mandate by 15 December 2003;
- Te Arawa’s Deed of Mandate will be publicised soon;
- Tuhoe are working through the mandate process and have begun hearings in the Waitangi Tribunal;
- The mandating process has been completed for Ngäti Manawa and Ngäti Whare (both based within the Kaingaroa forest), and the respective Rünanga of these iwi will negotiate the claims.

The next step after completing mandating is to sign Terms of Negotiation, which sets out the ground rules for how negotiations will be conducted. This will be followed by intensive negotiations to reach settlement agreements.

To assist the settlement process, the Crown and CNI iwi and hapu has agreed to commence negotiation discussions while research is being undertaken in the Waitangi Tribunal. This is expected to reduce the amount of time it would have taken to reach settlement by several years.
The Tribunal has scheduled research affecting most central North Island claimants for completion by mid-2004.

Margaret Wilson says the alignment of resources and processes between agencies in this way is a positive development for the resolution of historical claims.

“This will enable the Crown to enter negotiations with some – if not all – central North Island iwi in early 2004. This is a remarkable achievement, with so much of Maoridom coming together for what would otherwise have been a long haul over many years.”

This Government is hoping to settle all historical claims in the central North Island, including claims involving forest land. This would redress the harm suffered by central North Island iwi from actions of the Crown over the past 150 years, healing the damage to the relationship between the iwi and the Crown.

Settlements will see iwi receiving Crown forest land and redress for cultural sites, which will help the iwi build for their future. Resolving the claims will also help to strengthen central North Island communities and the country as a whole.

Settlements will clarify the future ownership of the land under the Kaingaroa Forest and other central North Island Crown forests, which the Crown must hold until the claims are resolved. This will increase certainty for the forestry industry and be positive for regional economic development.

Settlements will enable the distribution of rentals from the forest land that have been accumulating in the Crown Forestry Rental Trust for more than a decade. Central North Island forests account for 60% of the rentals held by the Trust.

“Central North Island communities can take heart that these grievances are being addressed in order to move on to a better, more positive future without the shadow of historical claims over the land and resources of the region,” Margaret Wilson says.

ENDS

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