Tuhoe aim for other tribes' $170m benchmark

By Yvonne Tahana

Te Urewera National Park. Photo / NZ Herald
Te Urewera National Park. Photo / NZ Herald

A Treaty deal for Ngai Tuhoe could happen only if its land confiscation is recognised on a par with Tainui and Ngai Tahu's $170 million settlements - the tribe couldn't live with anything less.

Tainui and Ngai Tahu received $170 million each during the 1990s. No individual iwi since have negotiated sums approaching that figure.

In briefing newsletters and updates to tribal members, the body negotiating with the Crown - Te Kotahi a Tuhoe - said an offer of $135 million had been made.

However, Tuhoe's grievances which deal with Te Urewera National Park are worth more than that, reports say.

"Ngai Tuhoe consider that they have suffered raupatu [land confiscation] on the same scale as that of Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu as Ngai Tuhoe also lost all their lands through raupatu.

"Unless the same level of quantum is reached [$170 million], Ngai Tuhoe will not be able to reach agreement with the Crown."

Tuhoe papers go on to criticise the valuation method the Government uses in settlements, calling it a "broken model".

A Waitangi Tribunal report last year said 24,147ha of land was confiscated during the 19th century - an act the Crown has accepted was unjust and excessive.

Complicating matters is that $54 million could be deducted from the current offer because the Government's position is that the tribe has already been partly paid for its settlement as a member of the Treelords deal which dealt with the Kaingaroa Forest.

A spokeswoman for Te Kotahi a Tuhoe said it had no comment to make as the Government's final offer was not yet before it.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson's offer to Tuhoe was to be discussed by the Cabinet on Monday, but that did not happen.

Mr Finlayson would not say when the issue would go before the Cabinet again and he would not "conduct negotiations through the media".

While not directly mentioning the Tainui and Ngai Tahu deals, he said:

"As far as the impact of raupatu - the settlement negotiated for each claimant group must be individually negotiated to reflect its particular circumstances and historical grievances, both with regard to commercial and cultural redress."

Because the negotiations have included talks around self-government/mana motuhake and what that might look like, the Treaty Negotiations Minister and the Prime Minister will be at pains to stage-manage how this settlement is perceived by the public.

What Tuhoe want:

* A form of self-government or mana motuhake.

* Some government functions - health, building, education, local government and environment devolved to it.

* Ownership of the 212,672ha Te Urewera National Park.

- NZ Herald

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