Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is “mindful of its obligations” as Simon Bridges today pressed her whether public money will be used to buy land at Ihumātao.
However, she also said at present negotiations are taking place between mana whenua and Kiingitanga with no Government input.
National’s leader has questioned Ms Ardern about the land dispute at Ihumātao in Parliament two days running, trying to ascertain whether the Government is involved in negotiations.
“Will she rule out any public money either directly or indirectly being used to purchase land at Ihumatao?” Mr Bridges asked today.
The rumour is that Tainui will buy the land off Fletchers, but do so via a no interest loan from the Crown.
It is hard to overstate what a disaster that will be. It will effectively be an additional Treaty settlement for an Iwi which has already had a full and final settlement for land. Making it a loan instead of a grant doesn’t change things.
This will be devastating because for 30 years every party in Parliament has supported settling historical Treaty claims, on the basis they are full and final. Even Don Brash supports putting right these wrongs. But this is contingent on the settlements being full and final. It has also been on the basis that only state owned land is used for settlements, not private land.
If Labour makes a loan to Tainui so it can buy the land, then there is a huge risk that this bipartisan support will die in 2019, and it will never be resurrected. Race Relations will be set back a generation..
It will also be a signal to disaffected minorities in Iwi that if they break the law and occupy private land, they will be rewarded for doing so. This will incentivise such occupations elsewhere such as Shelley Bay.
I hope that Labour stay out of this. If Tainui wish to buy the land off Fletchers using their own money, then great on them. It would be a good outcome. But if that money is a loan from the Crown, then the precedent it sets will set off a backlash.