Tūhoronuku continue to settle Ngāpuhi claim despite iwi 'no' vote

By Raniera Harrison

Tūhoronuku will continue direct negotiations to settle the Ngapuhi claim but not everyone agrees with the move.

"Our Tūhoronuku leadership is seeking to split Ngāpuhi further with the small minority that they have," says Te Uri Taniwha hapū spokesperson, Hinerangi Himiona.

Tūhoronuku board members, alongside Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū chair, Rudy Taylor today decided at Whangārei Terenga Parāoa Marae to continue pursuing a settlement with the Crown - a deal believed to be worth $500m.

"If people want to be complacent, that's their choice. If they want to support, they can. If they want to move forward, that's fine too" says Tūhoronuku chair, Hōne Sadler.

Tribal entity Tuhoronuku was given the mandate to enter settlement negotiations in 2011. A current trustee of the organisation is calling for a fresh start.

"This election result for a mandate is the worst ever result in New Zealand for any iwi mandating process. Tūhoronuku obviously does not hold the mandate of Ngāpuhi. This has been a failed process" says Piripi Moore - the Hokianga representative trustee on Tūhoronuku.

Following recommendations from Te Rōpū Tūhono technical advisors, Willie Te Aho and Jason Pou, two options were presented to Tūhoronuku - to discontinue Tuhoronuku or continue settlement with the minority of Ngāpuhi who agreed to the evolved mandate settlement.

"The board will vote on whether to move forward, evolve the mandate further to cover those 31 hapū that voted in favour of the mandate," says Himiona.

"My biggest challenge to Hōne and Sonny is that they haven't got us there - and it's time for them to step down" says Moore.

Official results of the Ngāpuhi evolved mandate vote was released on Monday, with 73 hapū rejecting the mandate and 31 in support. 

The individual vote was 51 percent in favour and 48 percent against.

"We are not going to let those who disagree [with the evolved mandate] block those who do agree" adds Mr. Sadler.

Treaty Negotiations Minister, Andrew Little was unavailable to comment on camera today, however he said the best course of action for Ngāpuhi was to "think rather than act too soon."