Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua has come under fire from tribal members and a neighbouring iwi over Treaty- claim negotiations involving seized land said to be worth billions.

The Weekend Herald understands the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Trust Board has been offered about $9 million in land and cash as compensation.

Ngati Whatua chairman Sir Hugh Kawharu refused to discuss details but confirmed an offer had been received.

He said negotiations were ongoing and confidential.

Reports of the negotiations have angered a number of tribal members, with resentment growing over the perceived lack of consultation from the board. A tribal member who did not want to be named said many beneficiaries were concerned that they were being "kept in the dark, forced to rely on rumours".

The dollar figures being mentioned were an insult to the more than 2000 beneficiaries, he said.

"It is pathetic. We are talking lands worth billions of dollars. Our tribe has been left virtually landless, and they [the Government] offer less than $10 million?"

Reports of the claim's progress has also drawn fire from neighbouring iwi Tainui, with the tribe's chief negotiator, Tuku Morgan, disputing Ngati Whatua's authority to negotiate over the wider Auckland area.

"Tainui have interests in relation to a number of the areas claimed by Ngati Whatua, including into the upper Auckland region."

He said a settlement could not be reached without "robust discussions" with Tainui. Mr Morgan said Tainui's position on the Auckland claim had been emphasised at a meeting with senior Office of Treaty Settlement officials before Christmas.

"They accepted there were clear examples of overlapping interests."

Sir Hugh said the Crown's proposal was far from a "hard amount" that could be taken to beneficiaries.

"We are not going to take nonsense, or nonsensical offers back to beneficiaries. It is all well and good for the Crown to tell us 'This is all we can offer', but we must take it to our people, who will tell us what they want us to do with it."

He said settlements involved financial and cultural redress, and the board was working through the value of some of the components.

Consultation hui were expected to be held in mid-March, when a final package was expected to have been hammered out in negotiations with the Crown.

Sir Hugh remained confident that a deed of settlement, the final stage in the process, could be achieved by April. He declined to comment on Mr Morgan's criticisms of the settlement.

Sir Hugh said Tainui was one of many groups to have raised issues of cross-claims on Ngati Whatua lands, and it was up to the Crown to decide who it negotiated with.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei territory covers Auckland City (except Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands), the bulk of Waitakere and North Shore cities and small parts of northern Manukau City and southern Rodney.

The tribe's claim includes the loss of about 33,000ha of land between 1840 and 1845 - lands later sold by the Crown within two to four years for vast profits. The tribe said the sales were unfair and breached Crown obligations, and that the Crown disobeyed Colonial Office orders to provide 15 per cent of the proceeds to Ngati Whatua.

It also claimed that a promise to set aside a tenth of the land as an endowment for the tribe was also broken.


Govt package worth $9m
* The Crown is said to have offered Ngati Whatua $9 million in land and cash for compensation over outstanding Treaty claims.
* One tribal member termed the offer "pathetic" and said people were being kept in the dark.
* Ngati Whatua says talks are still in the early stages, but a deed of settlement may be possible by April.
* Neighbouring iwi Tainui says it has interests in a number of the areas claimed by Ngati Whatua.