Crown pitting Aucklanders against each other: council

By Yvonne Tahana

Paul Majurey. Photo / Supplied
Paul Majurey. Photo / Supplied

The Auckland Council accused the Crown yesterday of creating "unprecedented tension" as it tries to settle Ngati Whatua o Orakei's Treaty claim - and that ill-feeling is focused on defence land at Narrow Neck.

But tribal members at the Maori affairs select committee hearing at Orakei Marae told MPs that no changes should be contemplated to the pending deal, which will give 3.2ha on the Devonport headland to hapu.

Many Devonport submitters present yesterday are fighting this plan.

Objectors argue that the land has a long history as a reserve and the community expected it would stay a part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park after legal action in the 1990s.

The same legislation that established the park says the land could be used for Treaty settlements, leaders of other Tamaki Makaurau tribes reminded the select committee.

In its submission, the Auckland Council said it commended the settlement in principle.

"However, we are concerned about a process which pits one Auckland community against another.

"Serious concerns have been raised ... regarding the lack of information and consultation with the community and the local board on behalf of the community, during the settlement process.

"Auckland Council is of the view that it is the Crown's responsibility to ensure that affected communities are appropriately informed and engaged with during the settlement process and believes the Crown has not fulfilled these responsibilities in respect of this settlement.

"In so doing, the Crown has created unprecedented tension between Auckland communities."

Treaty settlements in Auckland are interlinked because of the approach the Government has taken in the region.

The hapu has expressed the fear that if this deal is pulled apart, there is potential for others to topple.

For that reason other iwi runanga representatives such as Ngati Maru's Paul Majurey turned up to support Ngati Whatua o Orakei.

Mr Majurey said it would be a worrying sign of Crown policy if iwi found deals changed because "the majority culture" did not like them.

He also disputed that the council had been "kept in the dark".

He said it was aware of the deal at least as early as April 2011.

It is not clear if Mayor Len Brown believes the Narrow Neck land should be pulled from the deal, given his council's criticism. He was not able to be contacted last night.

A spokesman for Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said he could not comment on submissions before the committee.

However, Tracy Davis, a negotiator for the tribe's Kaipara hapu and brother of Ngarimu Blair who worked on the Orakei settlement, said any changes would be an anathema and would be likely to scuttle it.

"What I don't want is my kids to be doing it [negotiating again]."

- NZ Herald

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