TWM

Letter from Maori Party Members of Parliament
Written by Turia, Sharples, Flavell, Harawira  
Thursday, 04 May 2006

E nga hapu, e nga iwi, o te motu, tena koutou katoa. Tena tatou i nga ahuatanga o te wa.
Iri te rau kawakawa iri ki whare aitua.  He piki raukura, he kotore huia, ka whatia ka ngaro ki Paerau, ka ngaro whakaoti atu.
Apiti hono, tatai hono, ko te hunga mate ki te hunga mate.
Apiti hono, tatai hono, ko te hunga ora ki te hunga ora, e takatu nei i te mata o te whenua, ka nui nga mihi.

The Treaty settlements process has been a contentious issue ever since Maori rejected the Government's offer to settle all claims for a billion dollars. Since then however, some iwi have settled, and other claimants are currently at various stages of the settlement process.
Since 1992, nearly twenty claims have been settled for about $735 million. A further $100 million is on the table for claims currently under negotiation, and $304 million has been set aside to complete the balance of claims.
However, ever since the settlement process began, claimants and lawyers have been expressing grave concerns about the process itself, the terms of settlement, the amount set aside for settlement, and the agency charged with managing settlements.
Those concerns have come from nearly all claimants and their lawyers, from all parts of the country.
It is because of the seriousness and the breadth of those concerns, that the Maori Party is considering a call :
"That all Treaty settlements be suspended until there has been a full review of the Treaty Settlement process".

Because of that, we are writing to all hapu, iwi, and claimant groups to ask them to consider some of the concerns that have come to us over the past few months. We list those concerns here.

Settlements

  • Treaty settlements are supposed to be about settling grievances which have arisen from Treaty breaches.
  • The settlement process should therefore be agreed to by both parties.
  • The Crown however has set all terms of settlement.

Waitangi Tribunal

  • The Crown established the Tribunal to consider Treaty claims.
  • Tribunal hearings are often long and costly affairs.
  • The Crown refuses to be bound by Tribunal rulings.
  • Because of the lengthy nature of Tribunal hearings, and the fact that their rulings have no value, claimant groups are being pressured into direct negotiations with the Crown.

 Quantum - $1.3billion

  • Government said the country could only afford $1billion for treaty settlements.
  • That proposal has already been rejected by iwi at the Hirangi hui in 1992.
  • The 2005 Budget listed a surplus of $7 billion.
  • Clearly, government's settlement offer of $1.3 billion is insultingly low.

 Appointment of Negotiators

  • People were chosen to represent claims for very valid reasons.
  • However, the Crown is insisting on approving who can represent claims.
  • It is inappropriate for one party to determine who has the right to represent the other party in a settlement process.

Value of Settlements

  • The Crown is settling at about 2% of the real value of claims.
  • Maori are being forced to accept far less than their claims are worth.

Settlement Groups

  • The Crown is insisting on dealing with "large natural groupings".
  • Smaller hapu and iwi claims are being denied due process.
  • Those in a collective are not told what the value of their settlement will be.

Settlement Entities

  • The Crown is insisting on settlement entities which suit Crown plans, even when those entities do not reflect traditional structures, and even when hapu and iwi are left out of those entities.
  •  Questionable processes have also been used to put entities in place.

Full and Final

  • The Crown is insisting that all settlements be "full and final".
  • Given the lack of commitment to fair and equitable settlements, it is entirely
    likely that future generations will revisit the claims being signed off by this
    generation.

We know that claimant groups want to settle grievances in a manner that will enable them to move forward in a positive way.
But we also know that signing off on unfair settlements means that we not only force future generations to deal with that which we could not finish, we also hamstring them by accepting that our settlements were in fact "full and final".
Under these circumstances then, we believe it is time for us all to reflect on the settlement process and the concerns raised above.
It is not our intention to oppose Treaty settlements at this point, but to signal our very clear disquiet with the process, the terms, the quantum, and the agency managing Treaty settlements.
The Arawa Lakes Settlement is currently before the House. We hope that we can get your views before this Bill comes up for its final reading in a few months time.
We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your views, and we would also appreciate written feedback by Friday 30th of June 2006, to help us firm up our position on the Treaty settlement process.

Kati ake mo tenei wa. Tera te wa ka kitekite tatou i a tatou. Noho ora mai.

Tariana Turia - Maori Party Co-Leader
Member of Parliament for Tai Hauauru
Dr Pita Sharples - Maori Party Co Leader
Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau
Te Ururoa Flavell
Member of Parliament for Waiariki

Hone Harawira
Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau


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