note>Mikaela Collins

Power has been placed into the hands of Ngāpuhi hapū and iwi members to vote on whether or not they want to move forward with a new Treaty negotiation plan.

The decision to put the evolved model to the vote was made during a meeting at Parliament on Thursday attended by Te Rōpū Tūhono which comprises Treaty Minister Andrew Little, the leaders of Tūhoronuku, and the co-chairmen of Te Kotahitanga.

It comes after the Waitangi Tribunal found in 2015 the Crown-recognised mandate held by Tūhoronuku was flawed as it did not protect hapū sovereignty, and follows months of consultation hui and submissions made by hapū.

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Hone Sadler, the Tūhoronuku chairman, said he was elated it had reached a stage where Ngāpuhi could vote on it.

"I'm elated that we're making progress and moving forward. It's been hard for the last couple of years getting nowhere and so we've arrived at this point where we can take this out to Ngāpuhi and say 'Well, the choice is yours'," he said.

The evolved mandate will see hapū appoint representatives to make up six rohe negotiation bodies (RNBs).

Representatives from those RNBs will make up part of the Mandated Ngāpuhi Authority (MaNA) - which could also include kuia/kaumatua representatives, Ngāpuhi living outside the region, and a runanga representative.

MaNA will appoint two commercial negotiators, with support from the RNBs, for commercial redress negotiations.

Meanwhile, each RNB will appoint as many negotiators as they would like (only up to three funded) to work with the Crown on cultural redress, and with each other for an agreement on the allocation of the commercial redress.

Pita Tipene, co-chairman of Te Kotahitanga, the group which opposed the Crown's recognition of Tūhoronuku's mandate, said while he opposed the new plan, and had done from the start, he supported it to go a vote.

"The people need to speak, they need to vote, and Ngāpuhi need to make a collective decision. Any thoughts I have in terms of opposing it were merely my thoughts. But I did remind Te Rōpū Tūhono that given the submission period had closed that they needed to remember while I was alone in my opposition I represented a significant amount of people who also oppose, because there were more submissions opposed to the proposal than supportive."

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The voting process runs from November 9 to December 7. Before moving to the negotiation phase there would need to be support from 65 per cent of hapū and 75 per cent of individuals.

Sadler was positive the evolved mandate would be supported.

However, there is now a withdrawal mechanism so hapū who do not support it can exit if they choose to.

Ngati Manu is the first of Ngapuhi's 110 hapu to formally reject the Crown's latest Treaty claims (Tuhono) process.

Details on the endorsement process including how to register, vote and where hui will be held can be found by visiting www.govt.nz/ngapuhi

Background

• Ngāpuhi is the largest iwi in the country with more than 125,000 people who affiliate with the iwi, and a potential further 25,000 living in Australia. After many rounds of negotiations, the Northland iwi still has not completed a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

• In 2014 the Government recognised Tūhoronuku as the mandated authority to negotiate Treaty of Waitangi claims on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

• Te Kotahitanga and several hapu opposed the recognition of this mandate and went to the Waitangi Tribunal requesting an urgent inquiry.

• In 2015 the Waitangi Tribunal released a report which found while Tūhoronuku's mandate was sound, its structures undermined hapu rangatiratanga.

• An engagement group comprising members of Tūhoronuku, Te Kotahitanga, and the Crown was established to address the issues in the tribunal's report.

• Maranga Mai, a report which recommended a way forward, was produced. Tūhoronuku did not accept that report in its entirety.

• In 2017 Labour came into Government and Andrew Little became Minister of Treaty Negotiations. He held hui in Waitangi in November and around Northland in December.

• In March 2018, Little met Te Kotahitanga co-leaders Rudy Taylor and Pita Tipene, and Tūhoronuku chairman Hōne Sadler and deputy chairman Raniera Tau, forming the group Te Rōpū Tūhono.

• Two rounds of consultation hui took place with Te Rōpū Tūhono and Ngāpuhi members throughout New Zealand and Australia over August and September.

• The third round of consultation began on October 12, with feedback/submissions on proposals assessed up to October 23.

• On October 14, hapū Ngāti Manu, one of 110 Ngāpuhi hapū, announced it would reject the proposal and negotiate a settlement separately with the Crown

• On October 25 Te Rōpū Tūhono decided to put the evolved mandate to Ngāpuhi for a vote.