A $150 million investment fund is being established for Aotearoa's largest iwi, Ngāpuhi, in a step towards finally reaching a settlement.
The Ngāpuhi Investment Fund Limited will be a new Crown company which will grow a portfolio of assets which can be offered to the Far North iwi in negotiations.
As well ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi will be able to apply for grants for social development and governance while the Crown and iwi work towards eventually reaching a settlement.
Chief Crown Negotiator for Ngāpuhi and chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency, Sir Brian Roche, will chair the fund and a board will oversee the fund.
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little made it his priority this term to get a settlement across the line with ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi [the subtribes of Ngāpuhi] which has eluded all of his predecessors.
"This is a very significant development.
"The scale of the fund will allow it to build a base of assets throughout the rohe and beyond that may not otherwise be available for the Crown to offer, and provides a boost in investment for Te Tai Tokerau," Little said.
Little said the fund would give the Crown more options to put on the table and ensure ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi didn't miss investment opportunities while they work through negotiations.
It also sent a "clear signal of our intention" to endeavour to meet the redress
The fund can invest in a wide variety of New Zealand assets - including land-based businesses and standard financial assets to grow the fund.
The board will set the fund's kaupapa and investment strategy then the fund will make investment decisions itself and will operate at "Tupu Tonu" (which roughly translates to "prosperity and perpetuity").
"The fund sends a clear signal of our intention to seek to meet the aspirations of ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi for redress for their people and their rohe when they are ready," said Little.
Little made the announcement about the $150 million fund at Waitangi today - almost a year since making his historic speech completely in te reo.
Roche has been appointed as chair for six months to establish the fund. Joining him on the board is Māori development consultant Ripeka Evans, Northland businessman Lindsay Faithfull, chartered accountant Sarah Petersen and experienced fund manager Geoff Taylor.
The Crown hasn't been able to reach a settlement with Ngāpuhi, which has more than 100 registered sub-tribes or hapū, in more than a decade.
One of the issues is the Crown has persistently insisted it will only negotiate a single commercial settlement for the entire iwi because of the risk of overlapping claims.
Little has described the Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations "the most challenging and the most rewarding portfolio".
"It's had some of the hardest issues I've had to deal with but again, what I've found so rewarding is the engagement with iwi and learning the stories."
Little made changes to make the settlement process easier, including making $500,000 available for hapū to meet for hui and wananga.
Work is also under way to set up a Crown office in Kaikohe to provide dedicated support for hapū - and Little has previously indicated he is happy to break into smaller groups when it comes to negotiating cultural redress.