Crown one step closer to Treaty settlement with Northland's Ngapuhi
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has made headway with the country's largest iwi as it moves one step closer to settlement.
Ngapuhi's mandate for negotiations was originally held by Tuhoronuku, but that board has accepted a new entity needs to take over after the Waitangi Tribunal found it undermined the right of hapu to choose who spoke for them.
Finlayson has confirmed Tuhoronuku have "in very clear and unequivocal terms" accepted the recommendations of Maranga Mai - a report that came out of the tribunal decision - that a new board be established to negotiate the Northland iwi's claim.
"Nothing's ever straight forward up there, I don't think they'll criticise me for saying that. People seem to be moving ahead in a reasonably positive way and I'm both surprised and pleased at the progress being made," Finlayson said.
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It took several votes and resignations for Tuhoronuku to accept it was no longer up to them to negotiate a settlement.
Two of those resignations were from Sam Napia and Moana Tuwhare - who were largely responsible for the split in Tuhoronuku and the formation of a breakaway group calling for greater hapu representation.
Tuwhare and Napia have worked closely with Finlayson as he's pushed for decisions to be made or Ngapuhi risk having its settlement taken off the table completely.
"I've got a lot of time for those people. I hope in due course they will come back into the fold because we need all hands on the tiller," Finlayson said.
Because Napia and Tuwhare have resigned from Tuhoronuku they're unable to be appointed to represent the group on the new board and Finlayson isn't able to appoint them himself.
"I just express it in the most general terms, I hope they stay involved or get involved again. I don't think there would be anything to stop them seeking to get back involved."
But Labour MP Peeni Henare who is Ngati Hine, which claims to be the largest hapu of Ngapuhi, warned Finlayson against "meddling" in the process of who is appointed to the new board.
"If we believe in the process that's taken place to date then we've got to trust the Maranga Mai report and that the people involved will do their best for Ngapuhi.
"That's not for the Crown to do," he said.