National | Chris Finlayson

Taranaki iwi Ngāti Maru begins Crown settlement process

Sir Maui Pomare was the last Crown Minister to be hosted on Te Upoko o Te Whenua marae and the Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson's first interaction with Ngāti Maru today in Taranaki symbolises the initial steps towards a treaty settlement package.

It's the first opportunity for Ngāti Maru to have direct negotiations with Minister Finlayson and outline the tribe's aspirations for a settlement package.

Ngāti Maru Strategic Advisor Jamie Tuuta says, "At this stage, Ngāti Maru are in discussions with the Crown on what the financial and cultural redress might look like. Those aspects are still being discussed."

While Ngāti Maru are yet to release details on what their redress might look like, recently three Taranaki iwi; Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki had a financial and commercial redress totalling $224.5m.

Treaty Minister Finlayson says, "We've had the other negotiations with the other iwi and as I've said to them I don't expect that it's going to be easy. It is emotional, these feelings as I say are still deeply felt so they have to be approached with some sensitivity and that you recognise that they are not commercial deals. So it's not a question of ticking something off once we sort out the commercial aspects of the relief."

Ngāti Maru are the last of the eight Taranaki iwi to address their grievances with the Crown.

Ngāti Maru Lead Negotiator says, "My key message for the whānau at this stage is to get on board and come and get registered, we're still accepting registrations for the iwi and we will be forever. But now it's crucial that we get our numbers sorted out."

Tomorrow, as part of his treaty settlement roadshow Finlayson will head to Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whakatōhea and Te Whānau a Apanui.

Minister Finlayson says, "Hang in there because it's very tiring. Over the eight years that I've been a Minister it's all very well for the Minister and the OTS staff to come and go and the other departments to come and go, but these are the people who have a day job and then on Friday night they down tools and they go and look after the Iwi’s interests and it's very very exhausting. Then there'll be some real black patches on the way where they wonder whether it's worth it or whether they are just wasting their time. They're not wasting their time but it's not easy."

Meanwhile, Ngāti Maru are aiming for an Agreement in Principal to be finalised by August.