Key Points:

Prime Minister John Key says the inclusion of the Ka Mate haka in a Treaty settlement will not result in any veto or royalty charges on ordinary New Zealanders - but he believes the Crown should hold discussions with iwi over its commercial use.

Ngati Toa's Treaty settlement is to include an acknowledgment of the iwi's links to the haka, which was created by tribal chief Te Rauparaha.

The letters of agreement for the settlement were signed at Parliament yesterday and include an agreement by the Crown to negotiate with the iwi on how to protect the haka.

Mr Key said it would be "unacceptable" to the Crown if there was a charge on ordinary New Zealanders for performing it or restrictions on its use.

"It's about cultural redress, not about a financial issue or attempt to restrict New Zealanders if they're having a game of backyard cricket and decide they want to do Ka Mate."

However, he said it would be appropriate to have discussions over the commercial use of the haka - one of Ngati Toa's main concerns.

The iwi has long fought for rights over the haka, including a seven-year battle with the Intellectual Properties Office to have it trademarked. The claim was rejected in 2006.

Yesterday, Ngati Toa negotiator Matiu Rei said it was too costly to take further legal action - but the iwi could draw on the moral weight of having it acknowledged in its settlement.

The haka is best known for its use by the All Black rugby team - which Ngati Toa have long given permission for and which has been a feature of games for more than 100 years.

Mr Key said he did not believe this was commercial use.



New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said the All Blacks' performance of the haka was "a positive thing" for New Zealand.

"We have never claimed ownership of the haka and our teams continue to do the haka with the blessing of Ngati Toa. We hope that will continue and look forward to any ongoing dialogue."

However, the Crown's acknowledgment of Ngati Toa's links to the haka could prompt a request for the rugby union to expressly recognise the iwi in some way.

Mr Rei said the iwi's aim was to better protect the haka from inappropriate use. He believed all New Zealanders would want the haka protected from inappropriate use.

"While the haka is part of Ngati Toa ... it is also part of New Zealand."

In Parliament, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said it was ironic that the New Zealand Rugby Union was prepared to use the haka as part of its "marketing strategy" but was prepared to abandon the Maori rugby team - a reference to its lack of scheduled match fixtures.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said he hoped to finalise the settlements by the end of the year.

It will be the first time an intellectual property issue will be included in a Treaty settlement.

Mr Key and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples were both at the signing, an indication of its importance as the first Treaty-related agreement under the new National-led Government.

Mr Finlayson also acknowledged the work of former Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen, who did much of the ground work in the initial stages of negotiations.

The iwi grouping of Ngati Toa Rangatira, Kurahaupo Ki Te Waipounamu Trust and Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga were all at Parliament to sign the $300 million letters of agreement.