James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Iwi ready to move past grievances says Titewhai

Activist, 80, says most Ngapuhi want to settle Treaty claims despite opposition.

John Key and Titewhai Harawira on Waitangi Day last year. Photo / Sarah Ivey
John Key and Titewhai Harawira on Waitangi Day last year. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The country's biggest iwi wants to move out of grievance mode and into talks with the Crown about settling its Treaty of Waitangi claims, says Ngapuhi kuia and veteran activist Titewhai Harawira.

Mrs Harawira said Ngapuhi was in a "terrible position" but a settlement could turn the iwi into an economic powerhouse and change its mindset to "a proud nation determining our own future".

"Overwhelmingly, our people want to settle. We want to put the grievances behind us so we can become strong again as a people, as we were before colonisation," Mrs Harawira said.

"We are by far the biggest iwi and we should be having input and influence over everything that is happening in our country."

The 80-year-old made the comments on the eve of a nationwide round of information hui being held by the Tuhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority (Tuhoronuku IMA).

The authority was last month officially recognised by the Government to negotiate a settlement of Crown breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Ngapuhi grievances.

The information hui will be held throughout Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) and New Zealand generally, and also in Sydney and Perth.

Leaders will brief tribal members on what the mandate means, the IMA election process and the next steps for the Ngapuhi settlement.

But Ngapuhi are divided over the mandate, with another faction within the 125,000-strong tribe arguing against it.

Te Kotahitanga o Nga Hapu o Ngapuhi - which wants the Waitangi Tribunal to complete its current hearing of about 360 Ngapuhi Treaty claims before negotiating settlement - is considering a challenge to the legal status of Tuhoronuku.

Spokesman Patu Hohepa said during last year's public submissions over who should hold the mandate to negotiate settlement, 63 per cent were opposed to Tuhoronuku.

He said Te Kotahitanga had a clear vision for Ngapuhi which would bring about prosperity, but it was being accused of holding up the settlement process.

"We simply want our grievances heard, and the large numbers involved in the Waitangi Tribunal process was a testament to why the Ngapuhi claimants wanted the evidence which would provide a robust foundation for any settlement negotiations," Mr Hohepa said.

"We also think that if Tuhoronuku and the Crown had got into some genuine talks over the past few years, then the Ngapuhi settlement would probably have been signed off by now," he said.

The chairman of Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi, Sonny Tau, earlier said the iwi would be seeking a bigger settlement than the $170 million that Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu had each received.

He told the media on Waitangi Day that Ngapuhi wanted between $500 million and $600 million in settlement.

The Ngapuhi settlement

*Ngapuhi is the country's biggest iwi, with more than 125,000 people claiming ties to it.
*The tribe is yet to settle with the Crown for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi.
*Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi chairman Sonny Tau has said it wants a Treaty settlement of at least $500 million.
*Tuhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority was last month recognised by the Crown to negotiate settlement on behalf of the iwi.
*It is holding talks around the country and in Australia to brief tribal members on what the mandate means.
*But another faction, Te Kotahitanga o Nga Hapu o Ngapuhi, says most hapu are opposed to Tuhoronuku negotiating on their behalf.
*The kotahitanga is considering legal action.

- NZ Herald

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