Ministers await direction on claims

By Mike Barrington

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It could take several weeks for the Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) to analyse more than 2000 submissions it received on the revised Tuhoronuku deed of mandate for settlement of Ngapuhi Treaty grievances.

The completed analysis will then go to Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples to decide whether or not to recognise the mandate.

If an overwhelming majority of submitters accept the revised mandate and the ministers recognise it, elections to select Tuhoronuku representatives to begin settlement negotiations with the Crown could soon follow.

If the submissions reject the revised mandate, the ministers will have to go back to the drawing board for the settlement solution the Government seeks before next year's general election.

And in the meantime the Waitangi Tribunal will proceed with its 21-week Te Paparahi o Te Raki inquiry, due to end in May 2015.

The mandate was revised in a bid to close divisions between the Ngapuhi Runanga, whose Te Ropu o Tuhoronuku committee wished to begin direct settlement negotiations and the Te Kotahitanga o Nga Hapu Ngapuhi group, which wants the tribunal to complete its inquiry before negotiations take place.

Mr Finlayson advertised the revised mandate last month and the 2000-plus submissions received before the closing date last week far outnumbered the top number received when submissions were sought on mandate issues affecting other iwi.

Only about 250 submissions were received on the Tuhoe mandate and slightly less on the Ngati Porou mandate, OTS official Nicole Were said yesterday.

"Depending on the complexity of the submissions, it is likely to be several weeks before analysis is completed and officials are able to report to the ministers," she said.

Tuhoronuku spokesman Kipa Munro said yesterday it was great so many submissions had been received as it showed Ngapuhi were taking an interest in the settlement procedure.

"We've gone through the voting process and Ngapuhi has given us a mandate which we want the Crown to recognise," he said.

"It's now in their hands and we have to wait for the process to take its course."

Te Kotahitanga co-chairman Pita Tipene also applauded the large number of submissions.

"It shows how we have to all work together to achieve the best settlement for Ngapuhi," he said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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