Tuhoe gets more say in giant park

By Yvonne Tahana

$170m deal would put Te Urewera in hands of new entity, but plan is yet to be accepted by iwi members.

Te Urewera National Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
Te Urewera National Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

A $170 million Treaty deal for Tuhoe could lead to the creation of new settlements in Te Urewera National Park, but tribal negotiators still have a job to do selling the Crown offer to iwi members.

The Crown offer takes the 212,672ha park out of the national network and creates a new legal identity which will specify that neither the Crown nor Tuhoe own the land.

Ownership was the crucial issue that a 2010 deal fell apart over, when the Prime Minister took it off the table.

Tribal negotiator Tamati Kruger once called it a bottom line. Yesterday, he said the tribe had to concede that position.

"We had a choice: either we persist and that's the end of our negotiations or investigate exactly what ownership would deliver. Both the Crown and Tuhoe came to agree that ownership is not a requirement of gains and benefits."

The new board will decide what can occur in Te Urewera. That opens up the possibility of new settlements "right up in the middle of Te Urewera", economic development opportunities, and the provision of utilities such as better roads and broadband to those who already lived in the region, Mr Kruger said.

But the former hardline position around ownership is likely to mean vocal opposition from some quarters within the tribe. Mr Kruger said he accepted that.

"Although there is no equivalent [in Maori culture] we have become addicted to ownership ... it is hard to unwed them from that idea.

"I'm expecting a lot of opposition to the absence of ownership but I also feel confident in my ability to debate that and I think I'll score some good points."

It will take 12 weeks to draft a deed of settlement which will possibly be passed into legislation next year.

Minister of Treaty Negotiations Christopher Finlayson said current interests would be protected.

"It has some of the attributes of a national park but it's much more than that," he said.

The deal is certain to trigger Tainui's and Ngai Tahu's relativity clauses which guarantee the iwi an extra payout once the total of all settlements exceed $1 billion in 1994 terms.

What's in it?

* 212,672ha in Te Urewera National Park vested in a new legal entity,

* Neither the Crown nor Tuhoe will own the land

* Board to have equal members Crown/iwi responsible for approving a management plan

* Key provisions: park to be managed to an international standard, public access guaranteed

* Tuhoe to have an increasing management role over time with DoC also maintaining its role

* Crown will continue to fund management of Te Urewera through DoC, Tuhoe to contribute

* $170 million deal, less $60 million it received for its share of the "Treelords" deal

* "Mana motuhake" redress: relationship agreements with government agencies, a plan for Tuhoe to deliver their own social services over the long term

* Historical account of relationship, acknowledgment of Treaty breaches and Crown apology.

- NZ Herald

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