Hauraki Treaty Settlement
Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 11:34AM
Bill Barclay

Those of us who have been awaiting the 'imminent' conclusion of the Settlement negotiations and  following the 'intialling' of the final documents before submission to Government for Cabinet apptoval had better prepare to hunker down for another long period of suspense!

Hammond announces in his CE Report to Council on 25 March a further delay resulting primarily from litigation that has been intitated between the Hauraki and Bay of Plenty Iwi over boundary issues:

"The initialling of individual Iwi deeds of settlement in respect of the Hauraki Treaty Claims has commenced. The Crown anticipated that this process was to be near completion by the first quarter of 2015, with the Collective Deed of Settlement initialled soon after. However, boundary issues between the Hauraki and Bay of Plenty claims has resulted in litigation that will probably delay the Collective settlement until mid-2015, possibly longer. Once deeds of settlement have been initialled a ratification process will commence with the wider Hauraki whānui before the final signing of deeds of settlement. Included in the deeds of settlement will be legislation to enact the various facets of the agreements between the Crown and Iwi.

In the meantime, final concluding negotiations between the Crown and the Hauraki Iwi Collective and associated processes with local government are on hold until the litigation process runs its course.

Council has also been recently advised by the Ministry of Justice that the current Chief Crown Negotiator for Hauraki has been reassigned to focus on other negotiations in the Mahurangi-Kaipara harbours and Tāmaki claims. The Ministry advises that the Hon. Rick Barker has been appointed as Lead Negotiator for the Hauraki negotiations. Staff are looking to soon meet with Mr Barker and his team."

I have been informed that the issues are indeed far deeper, and that is major dissent over a host of other issues concerning 'who gets what.' I do not intend to expand on the issues at this stage as that may well exacerbate what is already an extremely sensitive situation. Suffice to say that the lawyers involved appear to be milking the situation for all it is worth - so whats's new?

I just feel very sorry for the Hauraki members who have entrusted their representatives to reach early settlement, thus enabling them to get on with the long process of catching up with other tribes who have gained such an advantage as "early settlors."

Hammond suggests "a delay until mid-2015, possibly longer." Boundary disputes are seldom settled with such expidition, and I don't see this timetable being achieved.

Of far greater import is the substitution of Hon. Rick Barker for Mike Dreaver as the 'lead crown negotiator.' Mike has carried a huge load, and has had the respect of all sides in the negotiations. It is said that he has been pushing towards finality under pressure from Minister Finlayson, but that this has not suited certain Hauraki negotiators.

Be that as it may, it is time this unique multi-tribe settlement was put to bed, but I cannot see what particular skills former Labour Minister Barker will bring to the table to achieve this result. It will certainly take many months for him to come up to speed with Mike Dreaver, who has been moved over to the related Kaipara/Tamaki negotiations.  It is significant that several of the Hauraki tribes also have large fingers in that settlement - certainly Ngati Whatua will not have it all their own way, and a great deal of give and take will be necessary keeping Mike on his toes.

It is significant that our Council has for some years consistently given 'up-beat' projections regarding the completion of negotiations that in hindsight were totally unrealistic. In the light of the current delay, It would be helpful if everyone could at least agree to the release of the basic co-governance arrangements that have already been agreed to. It won't happen of course because politically it is a time-bomb for the existing Council. Leach and his cohort would prefer to see any such arrangements kept under wraps until they can have no possible effect on the outcome of the 2016 election, so they will sit primly on their hands in the meantime. 

It you want further evidence of this - simply refer to this further paper for Wednesday's meeting on representation (Item 2.3) This paper by Electoral Officer Dale Ofsoske makes quite clear the reluctance of the present Council to move from the status quo regarding representation. I will give them the benefit of the doubt in assuming that they were anticipating the co-goverance arrangements to be in place well before the 2016 election, but I would suspect that they find the status quo a convenient fallback. Other councils are of course going through the throes of Maori representation alternatives, and they have been very divisive.




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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