Iwi united in southern aims

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014

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Maori treaty settlements in the top of the South Island are an "awesome" opportunity for the whole community to benefit from extra investment and jobs, Ngai Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon says.

Sir Mark told a Marlborough Chamber of Commerce meeting in Blenheim yesterday that Maori in the top of the South Island were about to get a cash boost of $200 million. They wanted to work in partnership together, with Ngai Tahu and other South Island iwi, and with the wider community to be successful, he said.

Yesterday morning, before Sir Mark spoke, Parliament sat extended hours to pass the second reading of the Te Tau Ihu Claims Settlement Bill. It was expected to be passed into law in the middle of next month.

The Te Tau Ihu Claims Settlement Bill is an omnibus bill to enact eight historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Kōata, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama ki Te Tau Ihu, Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said extended sitting hours could be used to progress settlement bills and other non-controversial legislation. It had also been agreed to allow it to go straight to third reading.

"It is a credit to the parties and members across this House that they have supported this innovative approach to enable settling iwi to receive the benefits of settlements in a more timely fashion," Mr Finlayson said.

Sir Mark said the bill's passing would usher in a new post-settlement era for all the tribes of the South Island.

"This is fantastic news for the region. Potentially millions of dollars will be injected into the economies of Marlborough, Picton, and the broader region as iwi seek to wisely invest their settlements, support their people and communities.

"And it is with these iwi that we are united in our common aim to grow the economy of the South Island and to work together to advance our shared interests."

All South Island iwi belonged to the Te Waka o Maui iwi chairs forum, which met for the first time last August, he said. The forum meant they could work together on issues in common, such as social welfare programme Whanau Ora, freshwater management and mining. It had made a joint bid to become the South Island commissioning agency for Whanau Ora, a government programme aimed at eliminating child neglect through a family-based approach.

Sir Mark said it expected to hear within the next fortnight if it had final approval. "The South Island is going to truly benefit from the fact that all its iwi are about to embark on their post-settlement journeys. It doesn't just mean wellbeing for iwi."

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He said Ngai Tahu was an example of what could happen over 15 years. "We also started with an initially small settlement figure but today our assets are valued around $1 billion. Our companies provide more than 600 jobs, the vast majority of which are here in the South Island. I encourage you to envisage this and more for the iwi of Te Tau Ihu."

Ngai Tahu had mussel farms in the Marlborough Sounds, and the mussels were processed in Blenheim by Kono, Sir Mark said.

"By working together with the tribes of the top of the South Island, Te Tau Ihu, there is bound to be more investment down the track."

- BusinessDay

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