Tempers flared outside Parliament yesterday as a hīkoi of more than 300 Tauranga Māori took their grievances about overlapping Treaty of Waitangi claims to Wellington.
It will likely not be made clear until Friday at the earliest whether the demonstration will play a role in changing Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little's intention to sign a settlement agreement with 12-iwi collective Pare Hauraki.
The settlement was disputed by Ngāi Te Rangi.
After the hīkoi, Little said he had given the iwi involved until Friday to provide him new information.
He said evidence of an agreement between the iwi groups to begin a tikanga process to discuss their issues "would be a compelling factor in my decision".
"I've got to see something happening because it's been a standoff for far too long."
The hīkoi was led by Ngāi Te Rangi and supported by members of other Tauranga Moana iwi.
The group stopped traffic as they marched from the Wellington Railway Station to Parliament's forecourt, arriving just before 9am.
They were met by Labour MPs including Little and Waiareki MP Tamati Coffey.
Little told marchers that an effort last year to "get a dialogue going" between Ngāi Te Rangi and the Hauraki collective had ended in a stalemate.
He said the Crown could not responsibly stand aside and "say 'well you sort it out'".
The minister was interrupted by a furious kaumatua shouting "rubbish".
Matakana Island elder Bob Rolleston stood and said that if the minister signed off the settlement without considering the competing claims by iwi, the would be "taking us into war".
"We will fight. We are not going to stand here and take this ****."
He repeatedly yelled "bull****" at Little.
When Little resumed speaking, he promised the Government would support a tikanga Māori process.
Charlie Tawhaio, chairman of the Ngāi Te Rangi Settlement Trust, said the pain and anger Rolleston expressed was "felt by all" at the hīkoi, though most would not have expressed it that way.
Overall, Tawhaio believed the hīkoi delivered its intended message about the depth of concern in Tauranga Moana people about the Hauraki settlement.
He said he was feeling hopeful it had created enough momentum to make something happen.
"[Little] wants to see some evidence of change or action. I think we can deliver it."
NZME was provided with a May 10 letter from Pare Hauraki chairman Paul Majurey in which he said Hauraki would set aside the part of its settlement relating to the governance of Tauranga Harbour so that the rest could be signed off.
"We have travelled a long way to this point where we are on the cusp of signing."
Majurey said the collective would agree to tikanga process to discuss the harbour, to start within three months of the signing.
Tawhiao said Ngāi Te Rangi's dispute was not limited to the harbour.
Each party blamed the other for the breakdown in tikanga discussions last year, but both also expressed a desire to repair the damage done to the relationships between the iwi during the settlement process.
- Additional reporting, Isaac Davison, NZ Herald