Treaty settlement invitation 'not a cash offer'

Chris Finlayson.
Chris Finlayson.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has refuted suggestions that a settlement invitation with the country's largest tribe was a "cash offer".

During his Waitangi Day speech yesterday, Prime Minister John Key held out the prospect of an advance payment against the eventual settlement for Ngapuhi.

He challenged the tribe to put aside their 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 payments.

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."

This morning while on Radio New Zealand Mr Finlayson refuted that the settlement invitation was a "cash offer".

"What we have said, is if and when the mandate is recognised, we will start negotiations and that one way in which we could do it is deal with the financial side first and then deal with cultural matters later on.

"It's no different to what I've said to other iwi around the country - there's no cash offer," Mr Finlayson said.

"It's really nothing more than, as it were, a call to arms. Lets get on with it guys, lets see if we can work through the various issues."

Mr Finlayson said he'd been working "very hard" on the mandate.

"I'm getting to a position where I should be in a position to recognise a mandate in the next little period.

"Then I'll say to people, 'right, if you want to negotiate, lets get going'. I've got a team of Crown negotiators ready to roll."

Ultimately, whether Ngapuhi wanted to settle was up to them, he said.

"It will be a very hapu-centric negotiation ... this is a very complex, a very large iwi, and a one-size-fits-all negotiation will not work."

Ngapuhi sub-tribe leader Rudy Taylor also spoke to Radio New Zealand and said there was currently a split between the iwi.

"It's not about the money, it's about resolving the issues that we have in terms of difference between the two groups."

Divisions arose around the corporate nature of the different runanga in the iwi and an income stream from a previous deal with Sealord, he said.

Ngapuhi's runanga chairman did not speak for a united iwi, Mr Taylor said.

"As the chairman of the runanga Ngapuhi, Sonny Tau, he's got to feel confident that he's got the rapport of the people, and yet that's the opposite."

- Brendan Manning of APNZ

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