Mp Continues Push For Treaty Claim Action

  • John Delamare
Associate Minister of Health

MP for Te Tai Rawhiti, Tuariki Delamere, today expressed disappointment that both the Treaty Negotiations minister, Sir Douglas Graham, and the ACT party leader, Richard Prebble, had appeared to miss the point over Mr Delamere's call for a high-powered Special Waitangi Tribunal to be established to break what he described as the logjam affecting the settlement of claims under the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Sir Douglas is reported as saying the Special Tribunal would be just another quango. Somehow I doubt that would be an accurate description of a Tribunal made up of the Chief Justice-designate, Sian Elias; Lord Cooke of Thorndon; Justice Eddie Durie; Justice David Baragwanath and the Rt Reverend Sir Paul Reeves," he said.

"It seems to me that there will never be consensus on what should happen to the fishing assets of Te Ohu Kai Moana, because of party politics as well as iwi/hapu politics, and therefore the Special Tribunal should make a binding decision that will be enacted by Parliament.

"As the Government negotiator on the Sealord fisheries deal almost a decade ago, Sir Douglas cannot be happy that the settlement is still not delivering benefits to Maori.

"Since it seems inevitable that the question will wind up in front of our courts again, why not cut out the middle layer of lawyers and get a final decision on the matter from some of our most eminent citizens, and then have that decision ratified by Parliament?

"Mr Prebble, on the other hand, with his customary fervour to make political capital out of matters Maori, has chosen to interpret my call as a Government admission that the Treaty settlement process is out of control.

"This, of course, is nonsense. I am suggesting a process that will cut out yet more years of litigation involving the fishing assets. Mr Prebble is constantly harping on about the need for full and final settlements - this is the way to get one.

"Perhaps, as a lawyer, Mr Prebble is allowing his warm feelings for his profession to overwhelm his desire to see a major Treaty claim finally settled for the benefit of Maori and the nation," concluded Mr Delamere.