12 Jun Clock ticking for Treaty Settlements
Happy Anniversary Waikato-Tainui.
It’s been twenty years since the then-Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, and Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu put pen to paper on the Waikato Raupatu Deed of Settlement.
While the Iwi has had its moments over the years, they’ve ultimately had huge success – taking their balance sheet from $170 million to over $1 billion. Waikato-Tainui deserves to celebrate.
Fitting then (perhaps) that the Minister for Treaty Negotiations chose 22 May, the same day as the Tainui signing anniversary, to announce that the Crown and Ngāpuhi have signed Terms of Negotiations.
Tainui was the first of the major Treaty Settlements. If the Ngāpuhi Settlement is successful (and that’s a pretty big IF) then it is likely to be the largest, and potentially one of the last, Treaty deals relating to historical wrongs.
The Minister was open about his desire to push ahead with negotiations despite a Waitangi Tribunal hearing challenging the mandate of the Tūhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority (Tūhoronuku IMA). Minister Finlayson says the Tribunal’s decision (not yet known) won’t get in the way. His focus is on the potential opportunities socially and economically for all Ngāpuhi, and Northland, through a settlement.
So what’s the rush? Well, Northland is a thorn in the Government’s side. The region needs an economic boost. The local population is predominately Māori. Wouldn’t it be great if iwi could play a leading role in turning things around…
But what else? National has already missed its self-imposed deadline of 2014 for ending all historical claims. And its momentum on settlements has noticeably slowed over the past year.
While the Government won’t ever confirm or validate this kōrero, the kumara vine is in overdrive. The talk is, once Ngāpuhi has settled, all remaining historical claims will be bundled together under a cap. For those iwi left who haven’t yet entered negotiations, the clock would be ticking pretty fast.
National has two years before the next Election. Completing an agreement with Ngāpuhi and ending the Treaty settlement process would be a huge win for the Party. Not surprising then that the Minister has labelled these negotiations ‘Urgent’.