Hokianga claimants have called for the Crown to address poverty as of priority in their move towards a settlement.
It's one of a host of remedies being called for by claimants and counsel in their closing submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal.
Professor Pat Hohepa addressed the tribunal in his closing submission, "We the indigenous people are suffering. We are a third world country illegally occupied. Anywhere else in the world that kind of takeover is treason."
He told Te Kāea that of all the remedies being sort by claimants removing poverty is a matter of urgency, "Right now addressing the poverty caused by the actions of the Crown is a matter of urgency for us and a priority before we even consider a Ngapuhi settlement."
Dr Hohepa says that claimants are using the Ngāti Porou experience as an example of the remedies that they are seeking, "Ngāpuhi will not go to the negotiating table until the issue of poverty is addressed as it was in Ngāti Porou where government funding was used to address poverty before negotiations started."
It's been seven years since the beginning of this claims process seeking to establish equality as envisaged in the 1835 Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. And it is this ideology that claimants are still wanting to aspire to with counsel presenting the tribunal with the findings they're seeking, "the Crown has denied the claimant's rights to control manage and regulate any activity in relation to those resources. And the Crown has denied the claimant's ability to enforce or to adequately enforce their rights and mana over their resources."
Professor Hohepa says after this year's general election the Hokianga claimants will look to begin talks with the new government to seek the return of control of their tribal territory which will enable hapu to manage their respective homelands.
The hearing marks an end to the presentation of historical claims but also a new beginning and ended appropriately with a song about upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi.