John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Treaty work won high praise

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Colin Bidois of Pirirakau's Poututerangi Marae and New Zealand's new Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, pictured in the days when each held vital positions in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process for Tauranga.
Colin Bidois of Pirirakau's Poututerangi Marae and New Zealand's new Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, pictured in the days when each held vital positions in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process for Tauranga.

New Zealand's new Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy earned a lot of respect from Maori leaders during three critical years she spent as the Crown's chief negotiator for Treaty claims in Tauranga.

Dame Patsy will replace Sir Jerry Mateparae whose five-year term ends on August 31, becoming the third woman to hold the post.

"In the overall picture, she did a good job," Colin Bidois, one of Ngati Ranginui iwi's lead negotiators, said about her contribution from 2012-15.

Mr Bidois, who led negotiations for the tribe's biggest hapu Pirirakau, could not recall having any squabbles with Dame Patsy's approach to the issues.

He praised her for the way she listened to the korero (conversations) from Tauranga Moana's iwi and hapu. It involved down-to-earth accounts of how Maori had suffered from the land confiscations in the aftermath of the Battle of Gate Pa.

"I found her quite pleasant. She asked very relevant questions." He said Tauranga Moana's three iwi had been reasonably well treated when their total redress from the Crown was compared with the redress paid to the much larger iwi of Tainui and Ngai Tahu.

Ngai te Rangi iwi chairman Charlie Tawhiao said Dame Patsy had been helpful in a critical time for the tribe by gently guiding them through some difficult episodes in the plans process.

"She was a very sympathetic ear and worked hard to understand our issues."

And being a direct link to the minister was important to Ngai Te Rangi's negotiators, he said. "Once she got involved, the pace of negotiations definitely picked up. She will make a very good Governor-General based on what I have seen. I am looking forward to seeing her again in her new role," Mr Tawhiao said.

Ngati Pukenga Iwi's runanga chairman Rehua Smallman said he found Dame Patsy approachable and professional.

The perspective she gained from dealing with different iwi and different people would be an advantage in her role as Governor-General, he said.

Mr Smallman said that while many of the elders who started the Treaty process had died, there were still enough directly affected people left alive to give Dame Patsy a good rendition of what had transpired after the confiscations.

Dame Patsy made her name in corporate governance, serving on private and public sector company boards during the past 20 years.

She also has a strong involvement in the arts and is the chairwoman of the Film Commission.

Most recently she worked on the review of the intelligence agencies.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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