Ngapuhi factions say Prime Minister John Key used his
Waitangi Day speech as a platform to prematurely force a
historic settlement with Ngapuhi in election year for
In his speech yesterday, Mr Key held out the prospect of an
advance payment against the eventual settlement for New
Zealand's largest iwi.
He challenged Ngapuhi to put aside its differences to enable
that and said he was keen to see a deal struck this year.
He noted other iwi had previously received similar advance
Chairman of Ngapuhi's runanga Sonny Tau welcomed the offer
but said it would seek a final settlement of as much as $600
million - four times bigger than the landmark Tainui, Ngai
Tahu or Tuhoe settlements.
Mr Key's response was: "You've got to dream big but it
doesn't mean we'll be writing a cheque for that amount."
Pita Tiipene, spokesman for Kotahitanga, the hapu-based
collective which opposes the runanga's dominance of talks
with the Government, criticised the offer as a political
"Clearly the minister and the Government is trying to force
Ngapuhi into a settlement and today was another step in that
direction. There are political motivations, it's so the
Government can say that they're well on track to settle
Ngapuhi before the elections and really there's been no
genuine and honest talks with the people of Ngapuhi."
Cash was a secondary issue to getting the settlement right.
"This will eventually end up in litigation if the Government
continues to try and force a round peg into a square hole."
Labour leader David Cunliffe said the offer was a "slightly
superficial way to solve this issue".
"Some more deep conversations with the Government helping to
facilitate dialogue between the hapu and the iwi might be
useful without wanting to intrude on what is actually an
The politics of Waitangi Day
A key event for National and Labour's contest for Maori
votes, the day saw Prime Minister JohnKey again claim a
string of advances for Maori under his Government. Support
partners the Maori Party had played a large part in that and
Mr Key praised Co-Leader Tariana Turia and Maori Affairs
Minister Pita Sharples for their "unstinting and passionate
work". "They will leave an enduring legacy following their
move away from politics."
Mrs Turia was in Porirua rather than Waitangi yesterday but
on her final Waitangi Day as an MP she called for the
parliamentary oath of allegiance to be made to the Treaty
rather than the Crown. "It is, after all, the Treaty that
provides us with the foundations for our Parliament today."
While Mr Key was offering cash, Labour Leader David Cunliffe
offered physical assistance to Maori yesterday when he and
Maori affairs spokesman Shane Jones stripped off their suit
jackets, shoes and socks for a splash at the beach to help
haul in a waka. His staff ensured those efforts did not go
unnoticed by the media.
Mr Cunliffe finally got an invitation yesterday to sit down
with the powerful Iwi Leaders Forum after being snubbed by
them at Waitangi. He'll have to wait - the invitation is to
their next meeting.
- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald