Iwi chairman frustrated passing of $6.2m settlement delayed

By Mikaela Collins

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The passing of Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa's Treaty settlement bill was delayed after Winston Peters and New Zealand First withdrew support of two other bills due to be passed on Friday. PHOTO/FILE
The passing of Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa's Treaty settlement bill was delayed after Winston Peters and New Zealand First withdrew support of two other bills due to be passed on Friday. PHOTO/FILE

The chairman of a Northland iwi group says while he is frustrated the passing of the iwi's $6.2 million settlement was abandoned, he wished the Government would have gone into extended hours so the third reading was not delayed.

Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa was one of five iwi who were due to see their historic Treaty of Waitangi settlement bills passed in Parliament yesterday. However, the third and final readings have been delayed after New Zealand First pulled its previously pledged support for the Taranaki and Te Atiawa bills.

David Manuel, chairman of Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa's post-settlement governance entity, Kahukuraariki Trust, said iwi were disappointed the final reading had been delayed.

"Of course a lot of expense and planning went into getting down there. It's not easy to organise kaumatua and kuia getting down there, a lot ended up not going - it's very sad."

The iwi's settlement includes a financial redress of $6.2 million and will give iwi ownership of 15 cultural sites, including 2275ha of the Stony Creek Station, about 10km south of Mangonui.

Mr Manuel said while he did not head to Wellington as he was awaiting an operation, about 20 iwi representatives had gone. Many more had booked flights and accommodation weeks before, including one who was going to come from Australia, but decided to stay home after it was announced the passing of the bill had been delayed.

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson said appalling behaviour by New Zealand First was the reason why the passing of the bills was abandoned.

The party's opposition meant a formal party vote would have to be taken rather than a unanimous voice vote, which would require more MPs in Parliament.

However, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said National had the numbers to vote to go into urgency or extended hours and pass the bills. He said given the Government knew iwi were arriving that is exactly what it should have done.

Mr Manuel said there were a "heck of a lot of people unhappy with Mr Peters".

"It's a bit of a sting. It's frustrating because he had every opportunity to raise issues following the first readings."

But Mr Manuel also said he wished the Government had gone into extended hours to see the bill passed.

"That would have been nice. But we've come this far and there's no turning back. We've waited 30 years, a little bit longer is not going to hurt," he said.

Mr Peters also said passing the Ngatikahu Ki Whangaroa claims settlement bill would be a serious mistake as hapu Ngati Aukiwa say Stony Creek Station should be returned to their hapu, not the whole iwi as the settlement bill requires.

However, Mr Manuel disagreed and said there were many hapu connected to Stony Creek Station.

- Northern Advocate

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