Prime Minister John Key has underlined his
Government's record on advancing Treaty settlements and
offered an incentive to his Ngapuhi hosts to close the
northern iwi's own deal with the Crown.
Addressing Maori leaders and Crown representatives following
this morning's dawn service at Waitangi, Mr Key said he was
"proud to stand by our record on Treaty settlements'' which
had been "accelerated under this Government''.
He paid tribute to coalition partners the Maori Party for
their role in helping Maori succeed in areas including Treaty
His Government came into office with the aim to secure "just
and durable Treaty settlements by 2014''.
"That date was not a deadline but a best-endeavours goal."
He pointed out the Government had in the last five years
signed 41 of the 67 settlements to date.
"More deeds of settlement will be signed and more Treaty
legislation passed before the year is out."
Mr Key pointed out that Northland needed economic stimulus
which the Government was addressing by encouraging minerals
exploration, investment in agribusiness and improving
"However, the biggest injection will come when all iwi here
willing and able to settle do so."
Iwi would be financially empowered with several hundred
million dollars injected into the local economy.
"My challenge to all Ngapuhi today is this: put aside your
differences... the Crown is ready and willing to negotiate
with whoever you choose as your representatives."
Mr Key said he was keen to see a deal struck this year.
"If that can be done I am prepared to look at some form of
payment on account to incentivise people to act in a positive
and progressive manner."
- Wet start to Waitangi -
Rain didn't deter the hundreds who attended the dawn service
at the Treaty grounds at Waitangi this morning.
The service, overseen by Bishop Kito Pikaahu, began shortly
after 5am today after National and Labour party ministers
were again led on to the marae by veteran Maori activist
Prime Minister John Key asked those gathered to pray for
those who have passed, making special mention of former
Labour MP Parekura Horomia, who died last year.
Mr Key said Mr Horomia would be remembered "for the beaming
smile and the beauty of the human spirit he had".
Labour leader David Cunliffe began his prayer asking that God
bless "the young, the old, the wet and the dry" which earned
chuckles from the dozens standing in the rain outside the
The celebrations today mark 174 years since the treaty was
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira was among several who paid
tribute to former South African leader Nelson Mandela.
"After 27 years in jail he had a smile on his face and love
in his heart."
"That's bigger than I could ever be."
Mr Mandela was also remembered by the Maori Council's Maanu
- NZ Herald