Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust (the Trust) is pleased with the Crown’s decision to continue settlement negotiations with Whakatōhea without delay, and in parallel to the Waitangi Tribunal District Inquiry into claims for the north-eastern Bay of Plenty area.

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Hon Andrew Little confirmed this decision today in an open letter published online where he outlined the Crown’s rationale for resuming negotiations with the Trust.

Chairman Graeme Riesterer explains the Crown and Whakatōhea negotiated an Agreement in Principle in 2017, but negotiations were put on hold during an iwi-wide voting process recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal following its inquiry into the Trust’s mandate to negotiate a Treaty settlement on behalf of Whakatōhea.

“We advocated strongly for a parallel process in response to the views expressed by Whakatōhea in the vote last year, and it’s great to now have a decision that endorses the continuation of our settlement negotiations alongside a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry,” says Mr Riesterer.

“This is an important next step for the Whakatōhea settlement journey. The Trust is now focused on moving forward, in consultation with Whakatōhea hapū and whānau, to transform our Agreement in Principle into a Deed of Settlement for all our iwi to vote on in the future.”

“We remain as committed as ever to ensuring the aspirations of our tīpuna come to life, and we will be holding hui around the country to communicate the next steps to our iwi and how they can be involved in the coming months.”

“We thank Minister Little for acknowledging that Whakatōhea Iwi have waited a long time for the Crown to make amends for its breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, and for taking this approach which will minimise any further delays to settling our historical Treaty claims,” says Mr Riesterer.

Mr Riesterer says the Crown’s decision is timely as elections for new hapū trustees open today, so iwi will now be able to vote for new trustees knowing it is these trustees who will have a say in future negotiations with the Crown towards a Deed of Settlement.

“It is important that all Whakatōhea uri come along with us on this journey. We need to work together to heal the wounds of the past and bring about a prosperous and sustainable future for all our people.”

Minister Little’s full open letter can be accessed here.