Treaty deadline looms over Maori authority

By Mikaela Collins -
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Tuhoronuku chairman Hone Sadler said there was no way a meeting on Maranga Mai could be held before September 20. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Tuhoronuku chairman Hone Sadler said there was no way a meeting on Maranga Mai could be held before September 20. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Tuhoronuku is at risk of losing its mandate and negotiations for Ngapuhi's Treaty of Waitangi settlement could be delayed if the board does not adopt changes in the Maranga Mai report.

A September 20 deadline has been set by Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson for Tuhoronuku to state their position on the report which recommends major changes to Tuhoronuku's structure.

The Tūhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority was set up with a 22 member structure, with 15 of the 22 places being hapū appointed.

Meeting the deadline could be the difference between delaying negotiations, or being placed on the Government's 2017 work programme and starting negotiations. But chairman of Tuhoronuku Hone Sadler has called for a meeting of the board three days after that deadline.

Mr Finlayson said in a letter to Mr Sadler on August 29 the mandate could be at risk if recommendations in Maranga Mai are not accepted.

"If [Tuhoronuku] decided not to adopt the Maranga Mai recommendations in full the Crown would quickly reassess its decision to recognise '[Tuhoronuku's] mandate'," said Mr Finlayson.

The Maranga Mai report was produced by the Ngapuhi Engagement group - a tripartite group comprising the Crown, Te Kotahitanga and Tuhoronuku - which was established to address issues raised in the Waitangi Tribunal's report into the Ngapuhi Mandate, which found the structures and processes of Tuhoronuku undermined hapu sovereignty.

Tuhoronuku board trustees Erin Shanks, Bill Hori and Moana Tuwhare put forward a resolution urging the board to indicate their position by September 16.

Mr Shanks said he was concerned the negotiations would be delayed.

"Effectively that would put the process back, potentially years. We know there is an election next year and I suppose the question remains whether or not this has become a toxic thing for the Government." he said.

Mr Shanks said Mr Sadler had set a meeting for September 16 but rescinded that after receiving the letter from Mr Finlayson. But Mr Sadler said that was not true as he had an appointment in Wellington on September 16.

He said the reason for not having a meeting on Maranga Mai before September 20 was because of a lack of funding and availability as some trustees have to travel from Wellington and Auckland.

"There are a number of trustees who weren't available and it is such an important event and important issues they need to be discussed face to face."

In a letter to Mr Finlayson, Mr Sadler said there were outstanding issues needing to be discussed - urban representation, kuia/kaumatua representation, roles of Te Hononga Iti (a hapu decision making group) and Te Kotahitanga wanting to have equal rights and representation in the transition process.

Ms Tuwhare said the board unanimously passed a resolution accepting the draft Maranga Mai report and said board members were confused why those issues needed to be revisited.

"The urban representation issue for all intents and purposes was recommended by the hapu to determine for themselves ... We support there being two options for separate representation and hapu taking it on."

Ms Tuwhare agreed the mandate will be at risk if Maranga Mai is not adopted in full.

"Our people are fed up ... Many of hapu groups they never supported Tuhoronuku in the first place they're going to sit back and say 'I told you'."

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