Executive members of Tūhoronuku, the group responsible for negotiating a treaty settlement with the Crown for Ngāpuhi, has met with the Minister of Treaty Negotiations. Chris Finlayson has confirmed that Treaty Negotiations with Ngāpuhi have begun.
Sam Napia, the recently appointed Chair of Tūhoronuku, says the meeting was an opportunity to develop a true partnership with the Crown based on the Declaration and the Treaty.
Looking back on Ngāpuhi traditions is the approach Tūhoronuku hopes to take in tackling its treaty grievances with the Crown.
Napia says, “Ngāpuhi Kowhao Rau, is about understanding, respecting and drawing on the diversity and strengthened diversity of Ngāpuhi hapū and doing the business together.”
Tūhoronuku recently completed a second round of Hapū Kaikōrero nominations to increase hapū representation, which acts as the foundation to the Tūhoronuku 22-member board.
Three appointed representatives will act as negotiators for Ngāpuhi in trying to achieve a treaty settlement with the Crown.
Napia says, "What we understood from our discussion with the Minister is that his negotiation team are ready to go. Our challenge is to match that readiness and in matching that readiness, we are very keen to ensure that the agreement in principle is completed in the 2016 calendar year."
Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson says, "This is not a shock or comment but negotiations are already underway and have been for sometime."
Just a month ago, former Chairman Raniera Sonny Tau was replaced by new duo Sam Napia and lawyer Moana Tuwhare as he faces court action for possessing wood pigeons.
Napia says Ngāpuhi unity is growing by the day and the meeting was an opportunity for Tūhoronuku to brief the minister.
“You know, I guess the latest census says there are 125601 Ngāpuhi, let me assure you this is not about the one,” says Napia.
The minister has already stated that the Ngāpuhi settlement is a high priority for the government who understands the advancement settlement would bring to Ngāpuhi communities.
When asked if it is realistic to have an "Agreement in Principle" (AIP) reached by both Ngāpuhi and The Crown in the next 2016 calendar year, Finlayson said, "That is certainly what I am aiming for and OTS (Office of Treaty) is organising it's team so is to achieve that end."
It is interesting to note however that Tau is set to appear before the courts on August 18, but the one-year chair term, which was vacated by Tau becomes available on August 14.