Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall has stopped short of launching an investigation into who leaked a sensitive document concerning iwi Treaty of Waitangi settlement claims.

Last month the Chronicle revealed details of Whanganui Land Settlement Negotiation Trust's (WLSNT) hopes from negotiations with the Crown after obtaining a document presented to councillors behind closed doors.

Those details were officially made pubic at Tuesday's Whanganui District Council meeting and confirm iwi will negotiate for ownership - by return or purchase - of land around the airport, harbour and city endowment land, as well as Pākaitore, also known as Moutoa Gardens, as part of its Treaty settlement with the Crown.

I was happy to blithely assume that this had been misadventure and a mistake had been made by councillors for this to be in the hands of the media

At the meeting - in which councillors largely backed the Whanganui iwi ambitions laid out in the document - McDouall took a swipe at the leaker, saying he wanted to "express publically my disappointment".

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"I was happy to blithely assume that this had been misadventure and a mistake had been made by councillors for this to be in the hands of the media," he said.

While McDouall said it had become clear it was a councillor, he would not be investigating who was responsible.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall is disappointed details of Whanganui iwi treaty settlement discussions were leaked.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall is disappointed details of Whanganui iwi treaty settlement discussions were leaked.

"I've actually seen the leaked document and I know what it looks like and I actually know somebody who knows who passed that on."

Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay said the leak was a "total betrayal of trust" and that the settlement process was important for the community.

"[I] implore the community to have some empathy and understanding of the effect on many Māori people today from the intergenerational injustice that has gone on without apology and without acknowledgement," he said.

"We as local government can play a vital part in the healing process."

As part of settlement negotiations with the Crown, iwi will also discuss co-management with the Whanganui District Council of Pukenamu/Queens Park, Kokohuia Wetlands, Gonville Domain and Horrocks Park Reserve.

Some Crown-owned land around Kai Iwi Beach is also up for negotiation but exact sites and administration arrangements are to be confirmed.

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Iwi negotiators have also asked to be involved in the protection of Lake Virginia, as well as Lakes Wiritoa, Kaitoke, Pauri and Westmere (Roko Mokia) alongside the council.

There was broad council support for all aspects of the iwi wishlist aside from councillor Charlie Anderson, who voted against the council considering a return of Airport Rd and Kai Iwi reserve land.

Rightly or wrongly our community will once again be split over a contentious asset

Both he and councillor David Bennett were also against iwi having first right of refusal to harbour endowment land.

Anderson said he was worried the consequences of the land transfers "will seriously outweigh the benefits".

Whanganui councillor Charlie Anderson is opposed to council considering the return of some land to iwi.
Whanganui councillor Charlie Anderson is opposed to council considering the return of some land to iwi.

"Rightly or wrongly our community will once again be split over a contentious asset," he said.

He questioned whether any of the settlement would filter down to "hard-working" and "struggling" Māori families.

The council's property general manager, Leighton Toy, said the Treaty settlement process was between iwi and the Crown but the council was "working with iwi in terms of their land aspirations".

Any property would first be transferred to the Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) "at current market value" and anything taken from the harbour endowment would be reimbursed by the Crown.

"This is not a situation of council giving community property to iwi," councillor Rob Vinsen said.

McDouall said an Agreement in Principal would go to Cabinet to be signed off and then negotiation would begin.

"Most of this is great news because it potentially means Government money flowing into Whanganui - whether it ends up in our coffers through the sale of endowment land to OTS, whether it ends up in Whanganui Settlement entities coffers - it doesn't matter," he said.

"We're supporting our hapu friends, saying, 'right, let's see what we can get from the Government together'.

"Obviously one of you, perhaps more than one of you, has concerns about things but I'd encourage you to learn more about the process."

Deputy mayor Jenny Duncan said it was just a vote to "explore" and said any councillor voting against the proposal was effectively saying they "don't want to know".