3 August, 2012
Tribunal report opens way for settlement
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson has welcomed the Waitangi Tribunal’s report into claims by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, which clears the way for the Crown and Ngāti Toa to conclude negotiations for settlement of that iwi’s historic claims.
The Waitangi Tribunal rejected the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust’s main claim against the Crown that it should not recognise Ngāti Toa’s interests in the wider Wellington area.
The Tribunal did find failings in the Office of Treaty Settlement’s conduct in its negotiations with Taranaki Whānui under the previous government and made two recommendations, both relating to an offer of a Right of First Refusal to Ngāti Toa over Crown properties in the Wellington CBD.
“With the release of the Waitangi Tribunal Report, the Crown and Ngati Toa can finalise their settlement package and progress to initialling the Ngati Toa Deed of Settlement,” Mr Finlayson said. “I intend to discuss the Tribunal’s recommendations with Ngati Toa and find a way forward that honours their settlement negotiations.”
“Although the report regrettably raises concerns about the way the Office of Treaty Settlements operated at the time of negotiations, these issues have been addressed since I became Minister. In 2009, OTS was re-organised into regional teams, meaning that negotiations across a region take place in parallel rather than separately or sequentially. This has addressed the “silo effect” referred to in the report which gave rise to miscommunications with claimant groups.”
“This is one of a number of steps this government has taken to improve the effectiveness of the Crown’s negotiations, and the results can be seen in the greatly increased number of milestones reached in the last three years.”