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PM's comments breach spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi Act

Hon Tariana Turia and Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leaders

PM's comments breach spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi Act

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Maori Party is bitterly disappointed with reported comments made by the Prime Minister John Key in relation to the Waitangi Tribunal’s hearing of the water claim.

“Mr Keys comments to Firstline this morning, suggesting that they will go ahead with asset sales regardless of what the Tribunal says, are akin to comments made by former PM Clark, in relation to the Tribunal’s report on the Foreshore and Seabed policy in 2003”.

“We view very seriously the comments made by the Prime Minister that “we could choose to ignore what findings they might have’. To make such comments is an insult to all of us. We believe that the Government is required in good faith to consider the recommendations of the Tribunal.

“We are also disappointed in what appears to be the unilateral rejection that Māori do not have ownership rights to freshwater. The Iwi Leaders Group has been negotiating with the Government in good faith for the past three years over fundamental rights and interests in relation to water. We did not expect this.

“We will be eagerly awaiting the Tribunals’ recommendations and also seeking the Iwi Leaders’ response to these comments. It is of utmost concern in so far as it threatens the very heart of the Treaty relationship”.

“We will not tolerate any suggestion that the mana of the Tribunal can be undermined. This is a specialist body, with members appointed by the Governor-General and chosen carefully for their knowledge and expertise”

“The view that governments aren’t bound by the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal is extremely limiting.

“The Tribunal, in making recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown, which breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi, has a significance and a status amongst tangata whenua which should be recognised.
"The Waitangi Tribunal has been a cornerstone institution for Te Tiriti o Waitangi, a spring of hope for tangata whenua looking for redress and reparation of past wrongs committed by the Crown".

"Let us not forget the Tribunal represents the Treaty partnership. The membership of the Tribunal being half tangata whenua and half Crown representation is a tribute to this partnership."

‘In November 1974, when Hon Matiu Rata introduced the Treaty of Waitangi Bill – which gave rise to the Tribunal he said: “The Bill is primarily aimed at satisfying honour. It will also give physical and lawful sustenance to the long-held view that the spirit of the Treaty more than warrants our country's continued support”.

“The comments by the Prime Minister throw into question the very spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi Act – and the significant role of the Waitangi Tribunal”.


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