Chris Finlayson announced:
All Ngāpuhi members will be entitled to vote in elections for representatives to the independent mandated authority that will negotiate the iwi’s historical Treaty settlement with the Crown, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson and Minister of Māori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples announced today.
The Ministers today said they have recognized the mandate of Tūhoronuku to negotiate as an independent mandated authority for the settlement of the claims of the country’s largest iwi, Ngāpuhi. Tūhoronuku will become a separate legal entity from Te Rūnanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi, and new elections will be held for its governance board.
This is a very significant step forward. Ngāpuhi are the last of major Iwi to settle, and it has been a hugely complex and lengthy process to get a mandate recognised.
“Ngāpuhi has been going through a lengthy and robust mandating process since 2009, the longest and largest in the settlement process to date,” Mr Finlayson said. “Around 60 hui were held, including 20 hui in the lead up to the formal mandate ballot in August and September of 2011 throughout NZ and in Australia. 76% of those who participated in the ballot were strongly in favour of granting a mandate to negotiate to Tūhoronuku.”
There are a minority opposed to the proposed structure for negotiations, but a 76% vote in favour is clearly a mandate.
What this mandate recognition means is that the actual negotiations can now start, and hopefully we’ll get a settlement in the next couple of years. This makes it very possible that by say end of 2016, all the major historical claims will be settled. That will hopefully focus attention on whether one needs to retain the Waitangi Tribunal going forward – or should so called contemporary claims just be dealt with through the court system?
Anyway congratulations to the very hard working Ngāpuhi negotiators for finally achieving recognition of their mandate.