An annual general meeting in Taihape on March 15 will give northern Rangitīkei tribes a chance to hear the Mōkai Pātea Waitangi Claims Trust's progress on land claims, chairman Utiku Potaka says.

And the following day Ngāti Hinemanu people are invited to meet with the trust at the old Utiku School, to discuss their representation in the trust's proposed mandate strategy.

The trust began work toward settling northern Rangitīkei land claims in the early 2000s.

Potaka said it had been a slow process.

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Waitangi Tribunal hearings have been held over the past two years, with the final ones probably finished by October. The claimant iwi have presented much of their evidence over the last 18 months, sometimes under cross examination.

"We have provided tāngata whenua evidence that has essentially been telling our story,"
Potaka said.

It has taken longer than anticipated to get a draft mandate strategy that everyone is happy with. Potaka said significant changes have been made, and he still wants to make sure Ngāti Hinemanu people are genuinely happy with it.

If all agree, a series of national hui and voting on mandate could begin in May.

After that, enough evidence has been presented at hearings to allow direct negotiation with the Crown to begin before the tribunal produces its report. The trust is keen to get that started.

"If we don't move sooner, then more of our old people will pass on," Potaka said.


"There aren't too many left."