Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has suspended the Crown's recognition of Te Runanga-a-iwi o Ngati Kahu's mandate to pursue settlement of the iwi's treaty claims.

Mr Finlayson said last week that the Crown had last year asked the runanga to address issues raised by Melissa Peters (Te Whanau Moana me te Rorohuri Nga Hapu) and others, by undertaking a process to reconfirm its mandate to negotiate a comprehensive settlement.

The runanga responded in January with a proposal to call a total of 44 hui, followed by a vote open to all Ngati Kahu.

Circumstances had changed, however. Last year the Court of Appeal found that the Waitangi Tribunal had made errors in its remedies inquiry, and ordered the tribunal to "remake" its decision. The runanga had now confirmed that it would pursue remedies through the tribunal rather than negotiating a settlement with the Crown.


Ms Peters said the decision, jointly made with Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, followed numerous complaints by "various" hapu and individuals who did not wish to be represented by the runanga. At least three hapu had "formally and completely" withdrawn their mandate from the runanga, and asked the Crown to work urgently towards an alternative.

A number of stakeholders had given evidence of their distrust of and mistreatment by the runanga, which some claimed had itself breached treaty principles in its treatment of hapu and whanau.

"The Crown will now need to present in their case that the runanga, which has been caught up in decades of ongoing litigation, refusing to reach settlement as instructed by those hapu it was supposed to represent, does not in fact lawfully even have the right to be representing Ngati Kahu in treaty claims," Ms Peters said.

"The runanga have not fairly or rightly represented the interests of the people of Ngati Kahu, and have for far too long embroiled our people in endless and fruitless litigation.

"They've had their chance to reach settlement and allow our region to move on from treaty grievances, to make progress and finally prosper on our own whenua. But they simply refused, despite the people in the marae and the hapu saying we want it over with. If they couldn't look after our best interests in settlement they sure as anything can't be trusted post-settlement."

�Page 4 -- The iwi decides