After years of speculation, the Government and Ngai Tahu
have confirmed a Treaty of Waitangi top-up clause is set to
trigger, potentially pumping millions into the beleaguered
South Island economy.
Both Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui negotiated "insurance
clauses" as part of their original settlements, entitling
each iwi to a percentage of all future Treaty settlements
once they exceeded $1 billion in 1994 dollar terms.
For the first time, the Government has acknowledged that
amount could be reached this year, which would entitle Ngai
Tahu to 16.1% and Waikato-Tainui 17% of all future Treaty
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon told the
Otago Daily Times: "Our expectation is that the mechanism
will possibly be triggered this year, or next year at the
The iwi negotiated the clause as part of its 1997 settlement
of $170 million, which "allowed both the Crown and Ngai Tahu
to agree on progress".
"The mechanism is important to Ngai Tahu, in the same way
that every element of our redress is important to Ngai Tahu."
A spokesman for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister
Chris Finlayson said the clause was not triggered at the end
of the 2010-11 financial year, "but it is possible the
mechanism will be triggered this year".
"However, it would not be appropriate to comment on the
forecast year of triggering, prior to advising Waikato-Tainui
and Ngai Tahu," he said.
Formal notification on whether the mechanism had been
triggered could be expected in October, he said.
The original agreements between the Crown and the iwi were
for cash payments, and any variations would be discussed
between the parties confidentially.
Mr Solomon said that while the agreement was for cash
payments, Ngai Tahu would work with the Crown to consider
Ngai Tahu would use the money for intergenerational
"Ultimately, this means both direct and indirect investment
into the economy of the South Island, both through our people
and through our investment companies."
The payment would be of benefit to the whole South Island
economy, and "we are not waiting around for the relativity
mechanism to trigger in terms of our substantial
earthquake-recovery initiatives", he said.
The iwi also owned land in the area "that, at some point,
will require further capital investment"
"So, in that sense, we expect our investment in this region
will be ongoing and will form part of our overall investment
University of Otago politics department associate professor
Janine Hayward said the mechanism was "simply an insurance
clause" for Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui, which were among
the first to negotiate settlements.
"It was a good deal for both to make sure the settlement
happened, and Ngai Tahu were pretty brave getting off the
blocks first," she said.
The iwi were the only ones to have negotiated top-up clauses,
which came about after the then National government signalled
a $1 billion fiscal cap on total settlements.
In hindsight, it was in Ngai Tahu's interest to have settled
earlier, as the iwi had grown that original settlement into
an even stronger financial position today - "but it may not
have been that way".
It was unclear how the Government would pay iwi once the
clause was triggered, whether they would wait until the last
settlement, and how future settlements would be affected.
"It is the elephant in the room now for all claims
negotiations because of its implications."
Relativity clauses were calculated in 1994 dollar terms and
adjusted for interest and inflation. Treaty settlements were
last calculated at $787 million in 2008-09.
To date, 26 settlements have been completed, including
Waikato-Tainui ($170 million) in 1995, Ngati Awa ($42.39
million) in 2003 and Ngati Ruanui ($41 million) in 2001.
Forty-three groups are working towards settlements.