Iwi leaders turn out in force to latest hui

By Yvonne Tahana

Te Ariki, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu. Photo / NZPA
Te Ariki, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu. Photo / NZPA

Ngati Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa leaders have taken a different approach to a government hui near Taupo today by turning out in force.

A paramount chief has told a full room including Deputy Prime Minister Bill English that he expects the iwi's own preference - to keep engaging directly with senior government ministers over water rights to continue. It is a position at odds with King Tuheitia's water summit last week.

At the summit 1000 Maori voted to support a unified approach to water claims and to support the establishment of a new body to establish a framework over water rights.

Sir Tumu te Heuheu said he was "compelled by circumstances" to clarify his iwi's position.

"Ngati Tuwharetoa is in an extraordinary position of having customary ... and proprietary rights over the very lakes, waterways and geothermal fields [where energy companies operate].

He outlined that the tribe was still waiting "patiently" for the Waitangi Tribunal to report back on its 2006 geothermal and hydroelectric claim and said he had been mandated through multiple internal hui to deal direct with the government - he hoped that would not change.

"I urge the Crown to respect this."

Tainui leaders boycotted the first hui yesterday in Hamilton.

King Tuheitia's spokesman Tuku Morgan told Radio New Zealand today that the hui was a waste of time and money. Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she believed the Government's position that it didn't believe the concept would work - meaning it was not a true consultation.

Leaders from across the Central North Island including Ngati Raukawa, a significant Tainui tribe, Ngati Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau plus those who have interests in geothermal land are also in attendance.

- NZ Herald

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