Credit to councillor David Bennett for holding his hands up over the leak of the iwi claims document, the contents of which featured on the front page of the Chronicle on November 17.

After Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall stopped short of an investigation into the leak but publically admonished the "leaker" for the breach of council confidentiality, Bennett approached him and admitted: "It was me."

But Bennett's breach was inadvertent and, it seems, largely innocent.

The Pacific Helmets chief executive did not know the document — prepared by the Office of Treaty Settlements and outlining local iwi aspirations for its upcoming Treaty negotiations — was confidential.


And he passed it on to the Wanganui Ratepayers' Association as "they were a group ... who should be thinking about the issues raised".

Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay's comment about a "betrayal of trust" was perhaps a rush to judgment.

Also jumping the gun were suggestions the leak was a deliberate political manoueuvre to undermine McDouall and the negotiation process.

Bennett, dubbed one of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" with his three colleagues in the Wanganui Beyond 2030 election team during the 2016 campaign, can sit tall in the saddle, having come clean to the public via a Chronicle story on Monday.

He has no regrets and feels he did nothing wrong.

Indeed, there will be some who regard him as a bit of hero, having played his part in placing the iwi's claims before the people of Whanganui.

That is, of course, where they should be. This is a hugely significant settlement — not just for iwi, but for all of us.

Whanganui district councillor David Bennett passed on a confidential document.
Whanganui district councillor David Bennett passed on a confidential document.

As could be expected, there has been the knee-jerk reaction from those who regard as an anathema any Maori aspirations and any attempt to compensate for past violations.


But the negative response has not been as belligerent as some feared which is a hopeful sign of a maturing society.

The fact is the Treaty settlement will be good for all of Whanganui. A significant boost to the local economy from central government coffers is to be welcomed.

It should provide a firm foundation for Maori to prosper, and the spin-offs will see benefits spread throughout the community.

The only worrying issue is how the district council can circulate a confidential document and not mark it "Confidential", but I am sure that will be addressed.