Considerable Progress on Waikaremoana Treaty ClaimsTreaty of Waitangi Negotiations
The Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Hon D.A.M. Graham, said today he was at a loss to know why a Crown Forestry Rental Trust Senior Historian, Vince O'Malley - apparently appointed as an independent neutral expert in his field of expertise - thinks the Government is unwilling to advance the Waikaremoana treaty claims.
'In the last five months, considerable progress has been made in the direct negotiations process.
'Ngati Ruapani claimants submitted a Deed of Mandate on 8 October 1997 and it was advertised by the Office of Treaty Settlements in early January.
'Progress was dependent on the receipt of the mandate and it is now being evaluated by officials.
'Officials have also provided comments to Ngati Ruapani on its research, indicating areas where further work is needed before direct negotiations can begin.
'My officials have been in regular contact with the claimants for some time.'
Mr O'Malley and the CFRT must be aware that the protest action at Lake Waikaremoana is focused on Department of Conservation issues, Mr Graham said.
Two other tribes have treaty claims in the Waikaremoana area. Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa has expressed an interest in direct negotiations, but is yet to complete its research and mandating.
Tuhoe is researching its claim in preparation for the Waitangi Tribunal hearings. It has not made any approach to enter into direct negotiations with the Crown.