The issue of a settlement for Ngāpuhi remains unsettled

By Maiki Sherman

A leader of Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi is standing by his challenge of high court action against the Crown if the Government advances negotiations with Tūhoronuku over the tribe's Treaty claim.  

Pita Tipene, of Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi, is under no illusion the Prime Minister will touch on the issue at Waitangi this week, given John Key last year urged Ngāpuhi leaders to settle their differences.

A cash advance of $40mil was offered by John Key to Ngāpuhi leaders last year as an incentive to settle their differences. 

However, a year on and the claim is still being delayed.  It's known that Minister Chris Finlayson is keen on a settlement and although he won't be at Waitangi this year, expect another directive from the PM.

"At the moment, this issue is steeped in muck and is going nowhere," according to Mr Tipene.

He also says the issue will remain there if the Government advances negotiations with Tūhoronuku.  If that happens, Tipene says the muck will go all the way to the High Court.

"Because the Waitangi Tribunal is essentially toothless, we will have to take the matter to the High Court."

Last year, the PM used Waitangi Day to encourage a settlement, it's expected he'll do the same this year.

Tūhoronuku's Sonny Tau says, "I remember the promise made last year for $40mil from the Government to kick-start economic growth.  We now want to speak with the PM about how to make that happen."

The tension is such that Mr Tau and others almost boycotted this Iwi Chairs Forum due to the fact Ngāti Hine, the largest objector to Tūhoronuku, was co-chairing the event. 

Tau says, "We are talking with our relations about how to work through this issue."

Tipene told Te Kāea, "The leadership needs to rebuild its relationship.  That's why I sat down with Sonny Tau this morning."

So there seems there's light at the end of the tunnel, if the Māori economic strategy is anything to go by.

Tomorrow the Government and MPs across the political spectrum are converging on Waitangi.

Whether events on the marae will turn fiery or not, it will be nothing new for John Key, so the focus is on the new Labour leader, Andrew Little, and whether he'll get burnt by the fires of Waitangi.