Ceremony cold-shouldered by marae

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2014

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Although a decision about whether Te Atiawa's settlement gets the go-ahead is expected in the next few days, negotiators have still yet to finalise a venue for the historic sign-off.

After being blocked from holding the formal ceremony at Waitara's Owae Marae, the negotiating team have now been turned away from Brixton's Kairau Marae, too.

In June, Te Atiawa Iwi Authority (TAIA) chairwoman Wikitoria Keenan told the Taranaki Daily News she was disappointed the ceremony, which is scheduled for this Saturday, could not be held at Owae Marae because of the significance the place had played in iwi history throughout the years.

At the time, Manukorihi Pa Reserve Trust chairman David Rogers said the trustees' unanimous decision against TAIA's booking was made because of concerns Manukorihi and Otaraua hapu had about the $87 million settlement.

In July, Keenan told the Daily News an alternative venue of Brixton's Kairau Marae had been found instead.

However, Te Atiawa negotiator Peter Moeahu confirmed yesterday the ceremony would not be held there either.

"They declined the hosting, which was their prerogative," he said.

Moeahu said a variety of other options had already been discussed but nothing had been confirmed yet.

Kairau Trustees committee interim chair Ken Trinder also confirmed TAIA's booking had been declined but would not comment on the reasons .

"We're the trustees and we've made the decision," he said.

Moeahu said once TAIA received official word from Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson about the fate of the settlement, any arrangements for the ceremony would be quickly finalised this week if the deal was given the green-light.

He said once those arrangements were made, iwi members would then be informed as soon as possible.

When approached by the Daily News after Ngaruahine's settlement ceremony last Friday, Minister Finlayson said he hoped a decision about Te Atiawa's deal would be announced early this week.

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