Iwi settlement date disputed

By Mikaela Collins

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Tuhoronuku chairman Hone Sadler.
Tuhoronuku chairman Hone Sadler.

The chairman of Tuhoronuku says he can't see Ngapuhi Treaty claims being settled before 2020, despite the Minister of Treaty Negotiations saying he believed it could be settled next year.

The comments come after both Tuhoronuku, the group with the Crown-recognised mandate to negotiate Ngapuhi's Treaty claims, and Te Kotahitanga, which opposes the Crown recognition of that mandate, had separate meetings with Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson in Auckland on Friday.

Mr Finlayson did not respond to Northern Advocate questions about when he thought the settlement would be completed but told Radio New Zealand he believed it could be settled by next year if everyone got on with it. But Tuhoronuku chairman Hone Sadler was not so sure.

"I was hopeful it would be settled next year but given where we are at the moment, I can't see settlement being completed before 2020," he said.

The rocky road to settlement for Ngapuhi eventually led to the establishment of an engagement group comprising the Crown, Te Kotahitanga and Tuhoronuku, which released a Maranga Mai report recommending a way forward for Ngapuhi.

While Tuhoronuku initially did not accept the recommendations in the report, it later did and a transition group of members from Tuhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga was established.

Since then, three transition group meetings have been held and none have been attended by Tuhoronuku.

However, following Friday's meeting, Tuhoronuku said it would attend the meeting scheduled for January 13, which Mr Finlayson would also attend.

Mr Sadler said the group had not attended the previous meetings as he said Tuhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga were not on an even playing field.

"The Crown expected us to accept the Maranga Mai report in its entirety but allowed Te Kotahitanga to accept the report in principle. That will part of the discussion next month."

Te Kotahitanga co-chairman Pita Tipene said that given Tuhoronuku had missed three of the transition meetings, he was pleased it had decided to come to the table for the meeting on January 13.

"We always knew there was a meeting on January 13 - what we never know is whether Tuhoronuku would be there.

"I was not in the room [at the meeting between Tuhoronuku and Mr Finlayson] but whatever they have discussed they have now agreed to attend the fourth."

Mr Tipene said Mr Sadler's reason to not attend the meetings was a "cop out".

He said he hoped in April/May next year there would be a transition to Maranga Mai and Tuhoronuku would be "left to disappear".

A timeline for implementing recommendations in Maranga Mai will be established at next month's meeting.

- Northern Advocate

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