Maungatautari Treaty moves

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 02/06/2012

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Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is remaining tight-lipped over a meeting with Maungatautari landowners to discuss iwi Treaty claims – saying only that talks were "very constructive".

Mr Finlayson met landowners behind closed doors yesterday as part of wider efforts to resolve a standoff that threatens the viability of the 47-kilometre predator-proof fence around the mountain sanctuary.

Five landowners have requested that the fence be removed from their properties.

Mr Finlayson said discussions were held in "a positive spirit" and reflected goodwill from all parties to resolve the standoff.

The landowners have outlined a series of requests to be met to guarantee their support of the sanctuary.

Included in their demands are an agreement that any Treaty settlement with Ngati Koroki Kahukura exclude giving the Maungatautari reserve to iwi.

Mr Finlayson declined to discuss details of Friday's meeting, but said "nobody talked about removing fences".

The Crown owns Maungatautari reserve, which accounts for much of the land within the "ecological island".

Under the future settlement this land will keep its reserve status, including all existing guarantees of public access.

"What I'm going to do is have a talk with iwi as quickly as possible and then I've said to the folk I've met with today I'll come back and see them," Mr Finlayson said.

"What I don't want to do is talk to these folk through the media or the iwi through the media. I'm dealing with these people direct.

"We're talking about people on all sides who have goodwill and want to sort the matter, so it's my task to help them achieve that."

Mr Finlayson said the Treaty settlement would not affect the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust (MEIT) or the status of the Maungatautari reserve, which would continue to be administered by the Waipa District Council.

"Ngati Koroki Kahukura share the same aspirations for Maungatautari as the rest of the community. It is a sacred place to them and they agree on the importance of the ecological island."

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- Waikato Times

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