Vote over, but issues still to be settled

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014

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Although voting has ended, question marks remain over Te Atiawa's Treaty settlement.

Yesterday marked the cut-off date for voting on the deal.

Numbers for and against the settlement are yet to be finalised, and official results are due to be made public on July 27.

Te Atiawa Iwi Authority chairwoman Wikitoria Keenan said she hoped for a a response from about 38 per cent of registered members. She said some of the votes received were completed by recently registered people whose iwi membership still had to be verified by kaumatua. This should be completed by early next week.

"We've had a rush of people wanting to vote," she said.

But it was not until this week that a venue was found for the signing ceremony, scheduled for August 9, after Keenan's attempt to hold the function at Waitara's Owae Marae was blocked.

Keenan said the ceremony would be held at Kairau Marae in Brixton instead.

Last month, the Taranaki Daily News reported the Owae Marae trustees decided to decline Keenan's booking due to concerns Otaraua and Manukorihi hapu had about the settlement.

Manukorihi Pa Reserve Trust chairman David Rogers remained unapologetic about the unanimous decision made by the 11 trustees to turn Keenan and the negotiating team away.

He said that to hold the signing ceremony at Owae Marae would have been an "insult" to the Manukorihi and Otaraua hapu, who had long-standing issues about the settlement process.

He said key points of contention were the lack of provision for the return of the Waitara endowment lands to iwi and a concern about how the post governance settlement entity, known as Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, was set up.

Rogers said the hapu groups and Te Atiawa Iwi Authority had begun mediation around these issues but the settlement timeline had continued on regardless.

‘We still have issues, the hurt is still there and, as far as we see it, the settlement is not for us." Rogers said that now voting had been completed, it was in the hands of the relevant ministers to decide if the deal had sufficient support to go ahead.

A copy of the voting results will be provided to Keenan and the negotiating team, who then forward a report to the Office of Treaty Settlements, to be considered at a ministerial level.

If the formal settlement is signed, a bill will be introduced to Parliament, which can take up to two years to pass into law.

The terms of the settlement come into effect 40 business days after legislation is passed and this is known as the settlement date.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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