Last night, an announcement made by the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson and Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples recognised and acknowledged Tūhoronuku to negotiate as an independent mandated authority for the settlement of the claims of the country's largest iwi, Ngāpuhi.
For more than five years the Iwi has been trying to choose an entity to take on Ngāpuhi's treaty negotiations with the Crown. While, it's a step closer to a Deed of Settlement, but do all of Ngāpuhi agree to it?
Ngāpuhi elders came to an update on the Crown's decision, one that has progressed the Chair of the Ngāpuhi Rūnanga Sonny Tau's agenda.
He says, “We have them by their throats and now we can make sure that Ngāpuhi receives what it rightly deserves.”
Tūhoronuku's 22-member board is now recognised, upon which will sit; 2 positions for elders, 4 urban positions, 1 rūnanga representative, and 15 positions to represent Hokianga, Kaikohe, Waimate,Taiamai, Whangaroa, Bay of Islands and Whangarei ki Mangakahia.
However Pita Tipene of Te Kotahitanga o ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi says, “This one committee can't speak on behalf of all the subtribes. For many years now, they've taken liberties with Ngāpuhi and they've lied to us on behalf of the Goverment. At the end of the day, this is just another foul move by the Government.”
109 sub tribes are recognised, from which kaumātua, urban and rūnanga representatives will be chosen. They will direct Hapū Rōpu, Hapū Kaikorero and from there, report to Tūhoronuku. In the end, they will report back to Hapū Rōpu and again to all sub tribes, through 3-6 facilitators who will communicate directly with the Crown.
Tipene says, “'In the announcement there was a section that said if any Ngāpuhi subtribes wanted to defect from Tūhoronuku, they were free to do so.”
Tūhoronuku is now launched, but Pita Tipene will return to Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi and figure out whether or not court action or protest will be their next steps.
No decisions have been made yet on when elections for Tūhoronuku can be expected, but Finlayson and Sharples assure us that all Ngāpuhi members will be entitled to vote representatives onto Tūhoronuku.