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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Competition in treaty settlement totals

The Minister of Maori Affairs says the Government is on top of the treaty settlement process.

National and the Maori Party say this week's backdown over the sale of two Landcorp properties was proof the government is botching settlements.

They say the treaty negotiations minister is taking a hands-off approach to the portfolio and doesn't show the passion needed to get deals with claimants.

But Mr Horomia says when it comes to settlements, National can't count.

“ We've done nearly three times as many as National did in their time and we’ve got about nine right now heading up to 14 that in my mind with a lot of goodwill on both sides, we’re going to get a lot closer in this term,” Mr Horomia says.

He says as well as reviewing the sale process for surplus Landcorp land, the Government has been conducting a review of the billion dollar cap on treaty settlements imposed by National.


The head Rotoiti's kura kaupapa Maori, Hawea Vercoe, says he's disappointed Land Transport New Zealand seems to have learned little from its stoush over the use of Maori signage.

Members of Parliament's Maori affairs committee this week grilled LTSA chief executive Wayne Donnelly over his opposition to Mr Vercoe's use of the word kura instead of school on the kura's bus and other signage.

Mr Donnelly claimed if the English word was not used, police could not enforce a 20 kilometre an hour speed restriction outside the kura.

Mr Vercoe says his signage does not compromise the safety of tamariki, and the LTSA should support all of New Zealand's official languages.

“That was part of our kaupapa from the start was having ter reo Maori and being able to use it in an official capacity, without having to go through any extra regulation to someone using a sign in English,” Mr Vercoe says.

He says the row means children at the kura have also learned about a third language, international signs.


Ngapuhi is bringing its annual festival to Auckland this weekend.

Spokesperson Hone Sadler says while 12 thousand people attended last year's event in Kaikohe, about 60 percent of the iwi's 120 thousand members live in Auckland.

He says the Northland iwi wants to help its people connect with it.

“Whanaungatanga. It’s about letting our people know who they are. It’s about getting them together, giving them opportunities to reconnect back home, because a lot of our people living in Auckland here are third generation born people and a lot of them don’t have connection back home, some of them are looking for that connection,” Mr Sadler says,

One of the highlights of the festival tomorrow at the Telstra Clear Events Centre in Manukau will be a display of some of the Ngapuhi taonga held by Auckland museum.


One of the lead claimants to land around Northland's Waipoua forest is celebrating the introduction of a bill enacting his tribe's treaty settlement.

The Te Roroa Settlement Bill was referred to a select committee, and is due to be reported back in June.

Alex Nathan, the chair of the Te Roroa Mana Whenua Trust, has been fighting the claim since it was first lodged in 1986.

Mr Nathan says the Waitangi Tribunal reported in 1992, but negotiations dragged on until late 2005 because the claim got mired in politics.

“The claim was also seen to be quite controversial, not the least of which was the fact the tribunal had made recommendations against so called private land. At that time there was no developed policy, they didn’t really know how to deal with it, so we got into this long round of discussions which for years went round and round in circles until they figured out how they were going deal with it,” Mr Nathan says.

He says the $9.5 million offered isn't enough to buy all the ancestral land Te Roroa wanted, so the tribe must go into debt to buy the blocks from the Crown.


Former Waitangi Tribunal chairman Eddie Durie says he'd like to see the establishment of a Treaty of Waitangi commissioner answerable to Parliament.

The now retired High Court judge says there is merit in the Maori Party's call for a commissioner reporting to parliament, similar to the Commissioner for the Environment.

Justice Durie says the tribunal itself can't be directory involved in treaty education or advocacy, because it could compromise its impartiality.

At the same time, a commissioner can't take over the tribunal's role of defining treaty principles and recommending remedies for claims.

“I see the commissioner's function as being primarily to promote discussion and to examine all the separate views and tease them out, analyse them and help people, to come to some clearer view of the issues,” Justice Durie says.

A Waitangi commissioner would be able to give expert advice on proposals like the removal of the treaty from the school curriculum.


Rangatahi from the Bay of Plenty are behind a festival in Rotorua tomorow night celebrating the region's diverse cultures.

Organising committee member Iwi Tewhau says the first Haka Hula Hop last year attracted more than 2000 young people.

He says even bigger numbers are expected at the Lakefront Reserve tomorrow.

“Haka hula hop is a youth dance festival where Polynesian, kapa haka and hip hop dance styles come together for a celebration of cultures. It is an awesome feeling that our rangatahi have taken a proactive move in actually wanting to celebrate he different cultures, not only here in Rotorua but throughout the whole nation,” Mr Tewhau says.


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