Ngāpuhi leaders are positive agreement can be reached as they head into the third round of consultation hui on the iwi's Treaty settlement pathway.

Working group Te Rōpū Tūhono, consisting of Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little and Ngāpuhi leaders from the main opposing sides, have held two series of hui with iwi members over the past few months around New Zealand and Australia.

Submissions on the group's proposal for a pathway to a Treaty settlement for the country's largest iwi have been extended to October 23, with the third round of hui starting October 12.

Provided the proposal was supported, there could be an iwi-wide vote in December on a proposed pathway to settlement.

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While the group agreed on a wide range of issues, the main sticking point over how a settlement would be distributed remained.

On one side is the Crown and Tūhoronuku, which had a mandate to negotiate and wanted a single cash settlement, while on the other was hapū alliance Te Kōtahitanga, which wanted six settlements, based on hapū throughout the region who took their claims to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Tūhoronuku deputy chair and Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi chair Raniera Tau said he was
Tūhoronuku deputy chair and Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi chair Raniera Tau said he was "enthused" by the progress made in hui so far. Photo / File

Tūhoronuku deputy chair and Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi chair Raniera Tau said he was "enthused" by the progress made in hui so far.

"The difference to past negotiations is we are joined by the opposition Te Kotahitanga. Together we have massaged a model to accommodate both sides."

In 2014 the Government recognised Tūhoronuku as the mandated authority to negotiate Treaty of Waitangi claims on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

Te Kotahitanga and several hapū challenged this and while the Waitangi Tribunal found Tūhoronuku's mandate was sound, it said its structures undermined hapū rangatiratanga.

Little and the two sides came together under the group Te Rōpū Tūhono this year to resolve differences and take a collective approach to iwi members.

The latest proposal included commitments made by the Crown to resource hapū to get up to speed with the settlement process, and the hapū withdrawal process, Tau said.

While it was the right of hapū to withdraw, hapū would be unable to rejoin the process. The Crown's negotiating resources were also already committed to the end of 2020, making a separate hapū settlement very difficult.

"Some individual hapū are looking to break away and do individual settlements, but this clarifies that is not possible," Tau said.

Another question was on representation and how a Mandated Ngāpuhi Authority (Mana) would be decided.

Tūhoronuku wanted seats for the Ngāpuhi rūnanga, plus seats for urban Māori, kuia and kaumātua. Te Kotahitanga had previously opposed a rūnanga seat at the table, and wanted the other seats decided by hapū.

Tau said a big issue was also in how to spread a settlement among the iwi.

"How do you split a commercial settlement when you have 126,000 iwi members all across New Zealand, and another 25,000 in Australia?

"And how do you split that fairly into hapū, when a lot of people do not know who their hapū is? That has been the challenge."

Tau said it was better for the iwi as a whole to negotiate commercial redress, rather than breaking into smaller groups. The Crown had agreed on separating cultural redress.

"Having a central body would enable us to grow the asset, then distribute it back to regional bodies, like Ngāi Tahu and Tainui have done. There are plenty of examples of smaller hapū breaking off and getting their own settlements, but not being able to grow their assets."

Reaching agreement would bring relief to a lot of people, Tau said.

"People will be able to get on with planning, and give the region a much-needed economic boost."

Te Kotahitanga co-chair Rudy Taylor said while the groups were still at loggerheads over how to split the settlement, they were not letting it stop the process.

"That is something we have always been pushing, but it is something the people will make their decision on.

"We have to just have to try not get hung up on certain issues, so it will be put central body until we have a better outcome."

Te Kotahitanga co-chair Rudy Taylor said the group was trying not to get
Te Kotahitanga co-chair Rudy Taylor said the group was trying not to get "hung up" on issues, and provide the best outcome for iwi members. Photo / File

The other question of a seat for the rūnanga at the negotiating table would be up to the people to decide.

"We want to make sure the six hapū are there, then there is the question do we want the rūnanga as a seventh? That is up to the people."

Taylor said they had moved on from issues about the mandate with Tūhoronuku.

"Andrew Little has done a good job, and we have all worked together on this for a better outcome for Ngāpuhi."

A final proposal could be confirmed by Te Rōpū Tūhono on October 25.

This proposal would then go out to wider Ngāpuhi members, with a potential iwi-wide vote in December. This would require 75 per cent approval by those participating, and 65 per cent from hapū, to be accepted.

Background

• Ngāpuhi is the largest iwi in the country with more than 125,000 people who affiliate with the iwi, and a potential further 25,000 living in Australia.

• In 2014 the Government recognised Tūhoronuku as the mandated authority to negotiate Treaty of Waitangi claims on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

• Te Kotahitanga and several hapu opposed the recognition of this mandate and went to the Waitangi Tribunal requesting an urgent inquiry.

• In 2015 the Waitangi Tribunal released a report which found while Tūhoronuku's mandate was sound, its structures undermined hapu rangatiratanga.

• An engagement group comprising members of Tūhoronuku, Te Kotahitanga, and the Crown was established to address the issues in the tribunal's report.

• Maranga Mai, a report which recommended a way forward, was produced. Tūhoronuku did not accept that report in its entirety.

• In 2017 Labour came into Government and Andrew Little became Minister of Treaty Negotiations. He held hui in Waitangi in November and around Northland in December.

• In March Little met Te Kotahitanga co-leaders Rudy Taylor and Pita Tipene, and Tūhoronuku chairman Hōne Sadler and deputy chairman Raniera Tau.

• Two rounds of consultation hui took place with the leaders group Te Rōpū Tūhono and Ngāpuhi members throughout New Zealand and Australia over August and September.

• The third round of consultation is to begin on October 12, with feedback/submissions on proposals be assessed up to October 23.

• A final proposal will be considered on October 25 by Te Rōpū Tūhono, before further consultation and a potential vote in December, which will need 75 per cent member support and 65 per cent support of hapū to progress towards Treaty settlement negotiations.