Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister, Chris Finlayson says the Crown is committed to completing historical Treaty settlement negotiations with Hauraki iwi.
This follows allegations from the Hauraki District Council Mayor, John Tregida that negotiations were ‘stalled’ by the Minister after some of the Iwi of Hauraki took a separate issue to the Waitangi Tribunal for clarification.
Tregida says, “The Minister has refused since December 2014 to negotiate while that matter is with the Tribunal.”
However, according to Minister Finlayson, five of the iwi of Hauraki have filed litigation in the Waitangi Tribunal. The Crown does not negotiate with iwi at the same time they are litigating against the Crown. This has required iwi-specific and collective negotiations to be paused.
Iwi-specific negotiations are active with those Hauraki iwi who did not file in the Tribunal, including Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Hei, Ngaati Whanaunga and Ngāti Rahiri Tumutumu.
Finayson says, “My officials are working hard on these negotiations. Earlier this year I appointed a new Chief Crown Negotiator, Hon Rick Barker, to bring a new perspective to negotiations which are progressing in a constructive and timely manner. Just under two months ago, for example, we initialed a deed of settlement with Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki.”
Tregida claims the negotiations were 99% complete and has urged the Minister to get on with settling with a group of 12 iwi from the Hauraki-Coromandel region despite the Waitangi Tribunal litigation.
“The Hauraki Collective settlement negotiations were – for over four years – very constructive and made significant progress. The negotiations are around 99 percent completed. But everything came to a halt towards the end of last year because of the Minister and his officials’ decision to break off negotiations,” says Tregida
However, the Minister disputes that and says, “The claims of the iwi of Hauraki are complex and overlapping. We are making good progress on these negotiations but it is simply wrong to say negotiations are 99 per cent complete. I have heard that figure before. It is wrong and repetition does not make it right.”
The Minister says he has offered to meet with Mr Tregida and other council members in the region to provide them with a progress update on the claim.