Minister committed to settling Far North Treaty claims

  • Christopher Finlayson
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

The government is committed to reaching just and durable settlements for historical wrongs with the five iwi of the far North, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said today.

However, he said the government’s policy remains reaching just and durable comprehensive settlements – not partial settlements that allow grievances to linger.

““Full and final settlements are the cornerstone of the historical settlement process,” Mr Finlayson said. “Finality allows the Crown and iwi to draw a line under the grievances of the past and focus on developing a positive future together.”

“For the same reason, it is also important to the government that we conclude settlements in a timely fashion where we can, so iwi can use the settlement for the benefit of their people and all New Zealanders can benefit from moving forward.”

The Far North settlements are complex negotiations involving five iwi, with a number of overlapping interests: Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takato, Te Rarawa and Ngati Kahu. In January 2010, the five iwi signed an agreement in principle as the basis for deeds of settlement with each individual iwi.

Ngati Kahu, one of five iwi that signed the Te Hiku forum agreement in principle in January 2010, recently presented a draft deed of settlement to the Crown for consideration. Unlike the previous Agreement in Principle signed between the Crown and Ngati Kahu, the draft deed seeks only a partial settlement, rather than a full and final settlement.

Ngāti Kahu’s draft deed seeks to extend the redress set out in the earlier agreements and proposes that further opportunity be left for Ngāti Kahu to seek redress for their historical claims into the future, as a result of Ngati Kahu negotiators’ instructions from hapu.

Mr Finlayson met with Ngati Kahu in a constructive meeting in Taipa on Saturday and said he will continue to work with Ngati Kahu towards a deed of settlement, but that the government will conclude comprehensive settlements and will not sign up to partial settlements.

“I will also continue to work with Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kuri and Ngai Takato in order to reach settlement of their claims. Where Ngati Kahu has shared interests with other iwi, the Crown will protect those interests in a way that does not prejudice Ngati Kahu, but also does not delay the aspirations of other iwi to reach settlements on behalf of their people.”


Background: Treaty settlement process

An Agreement in Principle is a without prejudice basis on which parties negotiate a final Deed of Settlement for historical claims. Deeds of settlement are then given effect by legislation. This Government has a goal of settling historical Treaty claims in a just and durable way by 2014.

Ordinarily in settlement negotiations, the Crown engages lawyers to draft a Deed of Settlement closely based on an Agreement in Principle previously negotiated between the Crown and claimants. Claimants and the Crown then work together to resolve any remaining issues, and ensure that the binding legal agreement accurately reflects the understanding of both parties. Ngati Kahu approached the Crown to provide the first draft of a deed of settlement. The Crown agreed and the draft deed was submitted last month.