The Whanganui District councillor who leaked the confidential document revealing iwi Treaty settlement claims has outed himself.

David Bennett contacted the Whanganui Chronicle on Friday ready to admit his part in the publication of the sensitive document by this newspaper on November 17 - almost a month before the council planned to make it public.

He does not regard himself as having "leaked" the Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) document, as he was not aware it was confidential, and has no regrets about his actions.

Mayor Hamish McDouall initially took a swipe at the then anonymous leaker at a council meeting earlier this month, but at the weekend, after Bennett approached him, acknowledged it was not "an intentional or targeted breach of confidentiality".


Personal issues meant Bennett missed the council workshop with OTS staff where the document was presented.

The document shows iwi will seek to negotiate for ownership - by return or purchase - land around the airport, harbour and city endowment land, as well as Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens, as part of its Treaty settlement.

"Some days later I was handed a copy of this paper, which was not marked confidential," Bennett told the Chronicle.

"In fact, it was only a slightly more detailed list of proposals for discussion that had been bought to the council at a meeting some six months earlier, and it included specifically a proposal that Ken Mair made to council as part of the 10-year plan public submissions.

"So I breached no confidences."

Bennett said he gave a copy of the document to a member of the Wanganui Ratepayers' Association, "as I thought that they were a group of ratepayer representatives who should be thinking about the issues raised".

"It was passed to them on the condition that it was for their eyes only ... to think about."

Whanganui district councillor David Bennett says he did nothing wrong
Whanganui district councillor David Bennett says he did nothing wrong

Bennett said the proposals were only at discussion stage, "but obviously they will become issues that the ratepayers of Whanganui will need to agree to".


"Some are comparatively easy items to resolve, some are only Crown matters, some are harder for council and, in my opinion, some have serious consequences we need to be talking about."

Bennett had advice for the iwi negotiators, saying land was important, but financial redress was more so.

"The most important issue is the question not answered or included: how much is the Crown going to pay iwi in cash?

"This may not yet even be on the table, but iwi negotiators should be firmly focused on the cash and not too concerned about matters of access to council properties etc.

"Without a very large cash settlement, nothing will be resolved long-term, and the obvious grievances will linger on."

Bennett said the target figure should be at least half a billion dollars and possibly as much as $1 billion.

"Without such a fund to invest, there will be little resource to purchase other sought-after land, or invest so that young family members can be provided with education scholarships and such like," Bennett said.

"The relatively minor issues presented in the papers should not detract from the value of the cash settlement, nor allow this government to reduce its contribution in hard currency by trading on iwi's natural wish to own land."

Bennett said a large cash settlement would enable a wealth fund, if properly managed, to help local iwiand the region as a whole.