The completion of a settlement of major Treaty of Waitangi claims in the Napier area remains in the balance after a hui held yesterday aimed at resolving issues over its management.
The meeting of about 50 members of the Mana Ahuriri grouping was facilitated by ministerial adviser and Waitangi Tribunal member John Clarke, called in by Minister of Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson and Minister of Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell after concerns were raised by members.
Mr Clarke is to discuss the concerns with Mana Ahuriri's executive and management and report back to a second hui expected to be held early next month, reporting on actions being taken to address the concerns, which stem from the empowerment of Mana Ahuriri Inc and its executive in the settlement negotiation and as a post-settlement governance entity (PSGE).
Mana Ahuriri was established in 2009.
It succeeded the less-formal Ahuriri Claimant Group which had developed as the Government declared a wish to deal with "large natural groupings" to settle claims, which were linked in a series of 1990s hearings relating to Te Whanganui a Orotu (Napier inner harbour), the 1851 Ahuriri Purchase, Waiohiki and the Napier Hospital.
A deed of settlement between the Crown and Mana Ahuriri Inc was initialled in August last year, including redress in cash and property assets, including airport shares, and other aspects including such things as restoring Mataruahou as the name of Bluff, Middle and Hospital hills.
But the completion of the process has been stalled by complaints to the Minister, over the absence of society audits dating back three years, the lack of elections in 2014-2015, the lack of disclosure of a $500,000 bank loan taken out for trust administration and wages, and claimed inadequacies in a ratification process late last year.
Generally, costs of claimant settlement negotiation and ratification processes, including administration and wages, are supported by an Office of Treaty Settlement fund, or the Crown Forestry Rentals Trust, where forests are included in the claim boundaries.
Ngati Paarau member Matthew Mullany, whose people have a specific interest in the Waiohiki claim and interests in other aspects, is among those who have raised the concerns.
He said the key concern with the loan was that it was not disclosed to members of the combined hapu before the ratification vote and that members of the board had voted to spend money before it is received.