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June - August 2011

Submitted by admin2 on Fri, 26/08/2011 - 3:54pm

Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu
Land Claims Report for June to August 2011

1. Minister of Treaty Negotiations visited to discuss our Draft of Ngāti Kahu Draft Deed of Partial Settlement 28th May
2. Meeting with Crown 29 June
3. Meeting with Te Rarawa and Ngāi Takoto about Kaitāia properties 24 June and 7 July
4. Resolution of Annual General Meeting 9 July to return to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations
5. Hui-ā-iwi to discuss our return to Waitangi Tribunal – 25 August 2011

This report covers a three month period since our last regular monthly hui – although interim reports have been provided, in particular to the Annual General Meeting on 9 July.

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations attended our monthly meeting in May, indicated areas he had difficulties with in respect of our Deed, talked at some length about wanting to settle the claims of the other four iwi of Te Hiku o Te Tika and indicated he wanted to keep working with us. We agreed to keep discussing our Deed with the Crown.

We met twice with Te Rarawa and Ngā Takoto to discuss Kaitāia properties the Crown is relinquishing its claims to. At the second hui with Te Rarawa we were told the Crown would not be settling with Ngāti Kahu. We had sensed that when we met with Pat Snedden on 29 June and so asked the Annual General Meeting on 9 July whether we should now return to the Waitangi Tribunal. The negotiators were instructed to do so and we filed in the Tribunal on 15 July to revive our earlier application for binding recommendations. The Tribunal responded five days later directing the Crown to respond. Thus far the Crown has been making excuses for not doing what the Tribunal has directed.

1. Minister of Treaty Negotiations visited to discuss our Draft of Ngāti Kahu Draft Deed of Partial Settlement 28th May
The Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, accompanied by the Minister of Māori Affairs and various officials attended our Rūnanga meeting at Te Āhua Marae, Toatoa. We had been briefed beforehand that he had difficulties with several aspects of our draft Deed of Partial Settlement, in particular, that it was a partial settlement rather than a full and final extinguishment of all Ngāti Kahu claims. We prepared a presentation which specifically addressed the issues we had been advised of.

We also reminded the Minister that as a result of the Supreme Court’s Hāronga decision (issued just two weeks before his visit), that Tribunal would have to hear and make a decision on our application for binding recommendations if we returned to them. It would not be able to send us back into negotiations with the Crown as it did in 2008.

Although the Minister seemed very nervous and indicated there were areas in our Deed that caused him difficulty, he said he wanted to keep talking with Ngāti Kahu. He spoke at length about wanting to sign Deeds of Settlement with Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri, Ngāi Takoto and Ngāti Kurī very soon and wanting Ngāti Kahu to help sort the areas in which there are shared interests. He left the marae saying that he was confident he could find a way through the difficulties he had raised.

The following week we received his submission on our Deed. It was a brief one and a half pages which set out the areas he had difficulties with, talked about settling with the other iwi and wishing to keep talking to Ngāti Kahu.

2. Meeting with Crown 29 June
We met with Pat Snedden at Tātai Hono marae. He came unprepared and was not interested in talking about our draft Deed, even when we pushed him to engage. He was only interested in us working for the Crown to settle the other iwi’s claims. Although we tried very hard to get him to finalise Ngāti Kahu’s Deed, we decided at the end of the meeting that we were wasting our time talking to Pat.

Subsequent to the meeting the Crown directed all five iwi that they would have to pay $9.6 million for the forest lands, an amount well in excess of what iwi had been prepared to consider. While Ngāti Kahu refused to consider such a ridiculous demand, the other iwi felt obliged to do whatever the Crown said. There were some very angry email exchanges between Ngāti Kahu and the Crown.

3. Meeting with Te Rarawa and Ngāi Takoto about Kaitāia properties 24 June and 7 July
Our first meeting to discuss Kaitāia went very well, as we waived the requirement for those iwi to demonstrate their mana whenua in Kaitāia and instead explained to them what their links were. We had very helpful discussions although Ngāi Takoto’s head negotiator seemed detached from the conversation.

The next meeting was in Kaitāia and Ngāi Takoto did not turn up. Te Rarawa sent one of the negotiators who attended the first meeting and Paul White (also a negotiator but he was not at the first meeting). Discussions were proceeding well until Paul told us that the Crown had no intentions of settling Ngāti Kahu’s claims.

We asked for the source of that information and were told the Minister had told the other four iwi that he had rejected our draft Deed of Settlement and will not be settling with Ngāti Kahu. The only reason the Crown was talking to Ngāti Kahu was to get information from us to allow the other four iwi to settle. Further discussion indicated that the Minister’s letter to us was ambiguous and could be read the way Paul indicated. We indicated to Te Rarawa that we would be returning to Ngāti Kahu to seek instructions about returning to the Tribunal.

We sent a letter to the Minister of Negotiations making it very clear (yet again) that while he can settle with the other iwi, he cannot include in their settlements any lands in which Ngāti Kahu has an interest. We listed those lands as Maungataniwha, Takahue, Kaitāia, Te Oneroa a Tōhē, Kaimaumau, the Sweetwater farm, and Te Hiku o Te Ika (previously Aupōuri) forest. He responded saying he intends to ignore that.

4. Resolution of Annual General Meeting 9 July to return to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations
The Crown’s refusal to discuss our Deed was reported and discussed at length at our AGM. A unanimous resolution was passed that the mandated negotiators return to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations over all State Owned Enterprise and Crown Forest lands plus compensation and recommendations on everything else in our Deed of Partial Settlement. We were also instructed to clarify the Crown’s position on our draft Deed with the Minister.

After consulting with our commercial and legal experts and rereading the Minister’s submission on our Deed we were satisfied that the Minister has effectively ceased negotiations on our draft Deed. We therefore considered the strength of our case for binding recommendations and concluded that it is very strong.

As such we formally filed that our application for binding recommendations made in 2006 (that was the subject of a Tribunal sitting in 2008), now be formally revived. We relied in part on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hāronga case. We also relied on the preliminary directions given by the Tribunal in 1998 on binding recommendations for the Muriwhenua claims.

We are aware of the threats of successive governments to remove the Tribunal’s powers should anyone try to seek binding recommendations. Following the Hāronga decision which orders the Tribunal to hear and make decisions on such applications, that is a risk we are prepared to take. As such we filed our application in the Tribunal on 15 July.

We were pleasantly surprised to receive directions from the Tribunal five days later that the Crown file a response to our application by 2 August. The Crown made excuses for not doing so claiming it did not have enough information. In fact, all the information they need is in our draft Deed of Partial Settlement and we have advised the Tribunal accordingly.

Two weeks later we received a letter from the Minister of Treaty Negotiations headed “Negotiations Confidential”, instructing us to comply with Crown deadlines about providing information relating to the settlement of the other four iwi. It also contained Crown drafted documents about matters the Crown intends to include in the Deeds of Settlement of the other iwi. They are alarming, to say the least, reducing the iwi organizations who enter into settlement to policy advisors to a wide range of government departments, part of subcommittees of the Far North District Council and the Northland Regional Council and subject to Ministerial appointment and control to an advisory board in respect lands administered by the Department of Conservation in their territories. The letter essentially ignores the fact that negotiations between Ngāti Kahu and the Crown have ceased and openly directs Ngāti Kahu to do the Crown’s bidding and within strict deadlines.

We are not in negotiations and have never been subject to Crown instructions. As such we have not responded.

5. Hui-ā-iwi to discuss our return to Waitangi Tribunal – 25 August 2011
It is very important that all marae and hapū are fully informed of our return to the Waitangi Tribunal, and what the implications are of taking that course of action. As such, a hui-ā-iwi has been called for 25 August at Karepōnia marae commencing at 6pm to discuss Ngāti Kahu’s return to the Waitangi Tribunal. All are welcome, including any from our other four iwi who may be interested. It is important that claimants attend the hui as well.

Professor Margaret Mutu
22 August 2011