Tuhoe leader backs self rule

By Yvonne Tahana

Calls from Maori activist Tame Iti for self-government arrangements for the Tuhoe tribe similar to those Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have in the UK have been backed by a leader likely to negotiate the tribe's Treaty settlement.

The Herald understands Tamati Kruger has been voted as one of three tribal negotiators with the Crown. Two others have been selected but are yet to formally accept the role.

Yesterday, Mr Kruger wouldn't confirm his appointment but said Mr Iti's view was "right on the mark".

"It's one of the things which has been consistent since the 1870s: Tuhoe's regard for their nationhood and their independence."

However, before formal negotiations proper began the iwi had to decide what specific arrangements of self-government it would like to see, Mr Kruger said.

He said nations had existed within nation-states for hundreds of years and while other iwi - for example, Te Atiawa or Ngati Toa in Wellington - might struggle to make a compelling argument for self-government because of the large number of non-Maori in their areas, Tuhoe's geographical isolation changed things.

The constitution is likely to be the area where Tuhoe and the Crown will find the going tough during talks.

A clause in the Crown and Tuhoe's terms of negotiation outlines that the negotiations will "aim to provide clarity between the Crown and Ngai Tuhoe regarding their constitutional relationship.

"Such discussions should focus on historical, current and future Treaty relationships."

It's a unique factor in Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.

While other iwi have focused on economic transfer of assets as a way of achieving tino rangatiratanga or self-determination, Tuhoe have spelled out their intention to negotiate constitutional issues.

A spokesman for Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen said the minister wouldn't be available for comment as he didn't want to conduct negotiations through the media.

- NZ Herald

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