Ngapuhi’s challenge

David Rankin writes:

To provide some context for how significant the problem is, while Ngapuhi fights with itself over how to proceed with deciding who should represent it on Treaty negotiations, smaller iwi which have previously settled now calculate their monetary worth in the billions of dollars.

Ngapuhi’s combined worth might just reach $50 million in comparison. To make this comparison even more stark, on paper, every member of Ngai Tahu is worth around $25,000, while every member of Ngapuhi is worth just $385.

A huge difference.

Unlike just about every other iwi, we have failed ourselves and future generations because we have become too inward-looking.

At Ngapuhi meetings about Treaty settlements, you will not hear people talking about economic or social development. No one will mention tertiary education, scholarship, venture capital, job creation, commercial expansion, or social and cultural advancement Instead, the subject sooner or later always turns to who has a mandate to represent whom.

After 20 years of trying to decide who gets a mandate, the prospects aren’t looking good – which is a real shame. If they can agree on a mandate, then the capital from a settlement could do a lot of good.

Far from the Crown being responsible for what looks like a divide-and-rule approach to Ngapuhi, successive Treaty Negotiations ministers have been desperate to overcome its internal bickering.

To date, however, the internal struggles for political survival have trumped any outside efforts at reaching the long overdue settlement for the iwi.

One can only hope this changes.

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