Ngāpuhi representatives ponder PM's challenge

By Maiki Sherman

A strong challenge was laid down to the people of Ngāpuhi today by the Prime Minister in his annual address. John Key says it's high time Ngāpuhi advanced its treaty claim and the government has announced incentives to urge them along. 

The announcement came as dignitaries enjoyed breakfast alongside the Prime Minister, John Key who decided to lay a few treats on the table for Ngāpuhi hoping to entice their hunger for settlement of their Treaty of Waitangi claim.

Key mentioned, “if that can be done then I am prepared to look at some form of payment on account to incentivise people to act in a positive and progressive manner.”

Ngāpuhi Rūnanga chair, Sonny Tau says, “It's a form of greasing and we haven't yet had a chance to look into the finer detail so only will we know whether or not we agree with it.”

Pita Tipene of Ngāti Hine says, “the government must not pressure Ngāpuhi, if it does this issue may end up in the courts.”

However the Minister of Treaty Settlements says, “”All we've done is issue a challenge and its for ngapuhi to decide whether or not they want to take it, if people want to go to court and spoend hundreds of thousands on lawyers than i guess that's their choice.”

At the heart of this issue is the mandate to advance the claim, an authority which has been disputed for the past six years between Tuhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi. Given the government's haste there is strong belief that it's backing Tuhoronuku.

According to Sonny Tau, Ngāpuhi are seeking redress of around half a billion dollars, given its population and landmass size. 

Finlayson says, “Mr Tau and I have friendly exchanges on a variety of things and he's mentioned those figures and I’ve said great when the mandate's all organised let's get stuck in.”

So the government's incentives for Ngāpuhi include either Crown-owned land or cash, and if they can get majority support, that will be given up front before a final settlement is reached.