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$93m Treaty settlement in limbo

Robin Potangaroa. PHOTO/FILE

Date of final settlement open question

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The $93 million, 9000-hectare Treaty of Waitangi Settlement for Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui-a-Rua is in limbo seven months after the settlement trust announced strong iwi support for accepting the deal.

The Waitangi Tribunal granted two resumption hearings in December which have stalled the settlement process and a final decision may not be known until March next year.

The hapu Ngai Tumapuhia, who are among iwi covered by the settlement, is seeking the exclusive return of Ngaumu Forest, currently part of the settlement package.

Final submissions on that claim are set down for September.

Wairarapa Moana Incorporated is seeking compensation for the loss of Pouakani lands in Mangakino, where its people were relocated after losing land around Lake Waiarapa.

It also wants the settlement to make provision for restoration of the Wairarapa lakes.

It has hearings under way, with further final evidence to be heard in September.

Despite the delay in the settlement being finalised, parties involved are professing confidence and patience.

The chairman of Tumapuhia group who sought the hearing, Mark Chamberlain, says the hapu has made a strong case.

“It’s going to be next year now, but things are progressing all right – we’re confident,” he said.

He reiterated that “we’re not fighting the trust, we’re fighting the Crown”.

The time delay was of no concern, he said.

“We’ve got all the time in the world.”

Unsurprisingly, the chairman of the NKKWTNR settlement trust, Robin Potangaroa, also felt its side of the argument had been presented well.

In response to the Tumapuhia claim, he said the trust had put in its own resumption claim for Ngaumu Forest on behalf of members.

“My role is to protect the settlement,” he said.

“The good thing about the tribunal is that the trust has a right of reply.”

He says the date of a final decision was “an open question at this point in time”.

“There may be a decision in November.”

Potangaroa rejected the suggestion that the state of play was a stalemate.

“I’m out there doing things . . . talking to crown agencies, and other parties,” he said.

“I don’t see a black cloud, I see a silver lining.”

And that silver lining could see the final settlement grown.

He says the tribunal has the power to make a seminal judgement binding on the Crown.

“I think there is the potential for positive things for both Tumapuhia and the trust.”

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