Parliament visit not political positioning - Sonny Tau

By Talisa Kupenga

Tūhoronuku and Kotahitanga groups will meet with Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little this Saturday.  Last night Te Runanga a iwi o Ngāpuhi organised an event at Parliament where many ministers were invited but Little did not attend.

The Treaty Negotiations Minister says his attendance would have been inappropriate.

"We're in a pretty sensitive stage in the talks with Ngāpuhi so i did not think it was right to go to an event that was largely organised by one side of the internal debate in Ngāpuhi,” says Little.

Ngapuhi Runanga chairman and Tūhoronuku leader, Sonny Tau disputes the presentation was a strategy to position Tūhoronuku over Te Kotahitanga in Ngapuhi Treaty settlement talks.

"That's what you and all the rest of the media think," says Tau.

The minister agrees.

"He's the chair of the Rūnanga and he wanted to lay out to MPs and others what was important to Ngāpuhi," says Little.

Te Kotahitanga disputes Tūhoronuku's Crown-recognised mandate to negotiate on behalf of Ngāpuhi.  Both groups are part of settlement discussions and will meet with the minister this Saturday.

Little says, "I laid out a thumbnail sketch of a proposal about the way forward.  They were to go away and seek feedback from that so I expect to hear that feedback and to flesh out that proposal and see where we go from there."

Tau disagrees that Ngāpuhi’s settlement was being delayed due to conflict between the two groups.

"There is no conflict.  There is only one horse in this race with the mandate and that is Ngāpuhi, Tūhoronuku.  No problems there".

Te Kotahitanga's Rudy Taylor was contacted for comment but is yet to respond.

The Ngāpuhi settlement could be worth around $500mil.