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Treaty Minister trespass tribulation: Hapu respond

Ngai Tamahaua Hapu leadership have responded today to Minister Andrew Little's claims made yesterday in connection with the trespass notice he received on Friday and the Minister's attitude to the Treaty of Waitangi negotiation situation which necessitated it.

"Statements from the Minister that he is engaging with Hapu of Whakatohea are quite simply false," said Tracy Hillier, Ngai Tamahaua Hapu Treaty claimant, "the Minister continues to fund a trust and negotiators to attempt to usurp the mana of Hapu - despite claiming he has stopped negotiations - and he continues to mislead when he claims he is sensitive and careful to be inclusive. His actions and the paper trail of invoices from his proxy agents are damning - he is trying to undermine us from within and steamroller over us. We will not be bullied around by Wellington."

Ms Hillier said: "The Waitangi Tribunal is about to commence a comprehensive inquiry into the Whakatohea claims and the appropriate time to negotiate is after this is complete and the facts are on the table. Given the high level of opposition from Hapu and claimants it is untenable for the Minister to continue to recognise a hollow trust of unaccountable individuals as if they represent Whakatohea and to keep paying negotiators when the Minister claims negotiations stopped last year. I urge Cabinet to rescind that trust's mandate status so that we can normalise relations."

Commenting on the trespass action at Waiotahe Bridge on Friday, Hapu Deputy Chair Tim Herewini says: "the trespass notice was served safely and courteously without the drama the Minister has sought to portray to the media.

"The fact the limousine window was wound down to receive the notice would indicate that the Hapu official's conduct was professional and that the Minister's behaviour was compliant. Mr Little was forewarned of this eventuality several times in correspondence with the Hapu and it should have been no great surprise to him that it was actioned."

Mr Herewini said: "Mr Little's hyperbole needs to be clarified to avoid any missteps: it would not be at all helpful if the Minister insists on another incursion when he has not asked or been granted permission to transit the rohe. Mr Little's remarks to media that our Hapu rohe encompasses the entire Bay of Plenty are flattering, but inaccurate - our territory is between Whakatane and Torere."

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