The Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson has expressed his disappointment at a decision by the Waitangi Tribunal to grant urgency to look into the process followed by the Crown in awarding Tūhoronuku the mandate to settle Ngāpuhi treaty claims.
Tūhoronuku says the Waitangi Tribunal decision is yet another obstacle to clear in their long and onerous journey to the Crown's negotiation table.
The chairman of Tūhoronuku, Sonny Tau says, “To date, we've managed to traverse all the obstacles the people and respective hapū have put in our way, and now the Tribunal has created another obstacle to challenge us."
The minister says that a few world wars have been sorted in the five years they've spent consulting on the Tūhoronuku process.
Minister Finlayson says, “From a settlement point of view, it’s disappointing and I actually think they may have got the wrong end of the stick on a few things but Crown Law are having a look at it and we'll decide where we go to from there.”
The Tribunal's decision doesn't stop the process in question with Tūhoronuku currently looking to appoint negotiators. The Minister also emphasises that the key to the approach taken in the Ngāpuhi situation was to give them the best of both worlds.
“There will be the global settlement of the money side but that's without prejudice to looking very closely at individual hapu aspirations so Ngāwhā Springs, Lake Omāpere all these matters will obviously have to be looked at a localised level,” says Minister Finlayson
Mr Tau says, ”We've come a long way to turn or go backwards, and so we'll consider the decision thoroughly and how we can address the concerns raised.”
No doubt this is another important issue to ponder as election day draws nearer.