Ruapehu iwi Ngati Rangi is the first to begin negotiating its Treaty of Waitangi land claim in the Whanganui District Inquiry.
The inquiry encompasses more than 70 claims, covering an area stretching from the mouth of the Whanganui River to just north of Taumarunui. It also takes in lands around the Whangaehu River and Waiouru in the east and the catchment area of the Waitotara River in the west, the Waitangi Tribunal website says. It has been divided into four parts - the Ngati Rangi area, and an upper, central and lower area.
The Ngati Rangi Trust went through a process to get a mandate to represent its area, through voting and a series of hui (meetings). On February 27 it agreed terms of negotiation with the Crown - the "ground rules" of negotiation.
Early discussions have taken place since then, Office of Treaty Settlements deputy director Tim Fraser said. They happen about every month, usually in Wellington but sometimes in Ngati Rangi's Ruapehu rohe (area).
The Ngati Rangi negotiation team is led by Che Wilson. The others are Kemp Dryden, Cassandra Reid, Carl Wilson and Toni Waho. They are supported by a sub-committee of trust members, elders and claimant representatives.
Its composition was endorsed at a tribal hui on December 7 last year, and members of the tribe are kept informed of progress by regular hui, panui (newsletters) and social media.
The chief Crown negotiator is Dr John Wood, who was also chief negotiator for the Whanganui River settlement.
Ngati Rangi aims to reach an Agreement In Principle (AIP) next year. This will be a broad outline of what will be in the settlement, with fine details negotiated after that. An AIP usually includes an agreed historical account of interaction between the iwi (tribe) and the Crown, Crown acknowledgments and apology, cultural redress and commercial redress, including Crown Forest Licensed land.
Ngati Rangi Trust chairman Kemp Dryden said the iwi's settlement aims align with the four focus areas of its strategic plan - environment, wellbeing, cultural revitalisation and prosperity - as well as reconciliation with the Crown.
All land settlements involve overlapping claims with other tribal groups, Mr Fraser said. Ngati Rangi has begun discussions with a number of other iwi to address any issues.
Its eventual settlement will have significant benefits for the wider Ruapehu community, Mr Dryden said. He cites the trust's successful Ruapehu Whanau Transformation Project as an example of what can be achieved when iwi and the wider community work together.
Much research has already gone into the claim process, and more is happening. The work is funded by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, with claimant funding from the Office of Treaty Settlements.
Ngati Rangi's claims in respect of Tongariro National Park will be addressed, with those of other iwi, in a separate process expected to start next year.
Meanwhile, the other three land areas in the Whanganui District Inquiry are preparing to get mandated.
In the Taumarunui area the Ngati Haua Trust and Whanganui Kahui Collective are looking at ways to work together, Mr Fraser said.
The Uenuku Charitable Trust got 82 per cent voter support in its bid to get mandate on behalf of the Central Whanganui Large Natural Group, named Te Korowai o Wainuiarua. In the lower area, Whanganui Land Settlement is developing a draft mandate strategy and hopes to advertise for submissions.