The matter arose following Te Kotahitangas meeting with the Minister of Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson in regards to the ongoing debate with Tūhoronuku who wants the mandate to settle all of Ngāpuhi’s claims.
Te Kotahitanga supporters are claiming the Ngāpuhi Rūnanga has made changes to its construction over the weekend enabling it to have full control of any post-settlement assets. According to the chair of Te Kotahitanga o ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi, Pita Tipene “We’re concerned about cheating and lies over whats taking place. We want their books opened for all to see what the Rūnanga and Tūhoronuku are up to”.
Up to 3 million dollars has been spent by the Ngāpuhi Rūnanga and the Crown to push for Tūhoronuku to receive a mandate to settle all Ngāpuhi claims. Tipene says “Ngāpuhi know the base of the iwi is it’s hapū , not the Rūnanga. That’s why the Tiriti o Waitangi and the 1835 Declaration of Independence were the basis of the claim made by Te Kotahitanga to the Tribunal”.
The Treaty of Waitangi and the 1835 Declaration of Independence were the focus of the first round of Ngāpuhi claims to the Waitangi Tribunal, but they’re still yet to receive the report of the Tribunals findings. Te Kotahitanga understands however that those two covenants wont be realised through direct negotiation with the Crown.
The chairman of Tūhoronuku Sonny Tau has rebuffed criticism of the group he leads claiming there is group within Ngāpuhi at the moment efficiently equipped to deal with the Crown and manage the assets once they are returned in settlement.
This is no doubt an issue that has been debated for years and will continue to be for sometime ahead.