Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust (the Trust) has welcomed today’s release of a Waitangi Tribunal report inquiring into the Trust’s Deed of Mandate to settle the Treaty claims of the Whakatōhea iwi.
Chairman Graeme Riesterer says the Trust is now working through the report’s findings in detail and considering how best to address the Tribunal’s recommendations.
“Our job is to work on behalf of Whakatōhea – those of us here now as well as those of us to come, and to acknowledge and protect the mana of those who have gone before us,” he says.
“The Trust remains committed to continuing to act in the best interests of all Whakatōhea.”
Mr Riesterer says the Trust acknowledges that the Tribunal has identified a need to test the ‘pulse of the people’ in relation to the current settlement negotiations.
However, he believes the findings of the report should be considered in the context of the efforts Whakatōhea has made to try to achieve a settlement, which include more than 20 years of discussions and at least seven years’ work to achieve a mandate.
“We believe the progress we have made in negotiations with the Crown is a hugely positive step for Whakatōhea,” he says.
“Our goal has always been, and continues to be, to establish an enduring settlement for all of Whakatōhea.”
The Trust says it has been encouraged by the support from iwi members throughout the Waitangi Tribunal hearing process, especially kuia and kaumātua who have strived for decades to achieve a settlement for Whakatōhea.
“We have been humbled by their tautoko and want to recognise their commitment to this important kaupapa,” says Mr Riesterer.
“The Trust also acknowledges that reconfirming support for our settlement negotiations amongst all the members of our hapū would be a positive step, and both the Trust and the Crown supported this idea during the Waitangi Tribunal hearing.”
Mr Riesterer confirms that the Trust also supports the Tribunal’s recommendation for the Crown to engage with the Mokomoko and Te Kahika whānau.
“We are all whānau and, as we have always said, we need to come together on this journey.
“Anybody can disagree with this settlement, that’s their right, but if the majority of our iwi decide this is the right settlement then we owe it to them and our tīpuna to progress.”
The Trust says it will communicate with all its iwi members on next steps through a further round of hui-a-hapū and hui-a-rohe in the coming weeks.
“We want to kōrero with all of our people to let them know what effect the report will have, once we have fully considered the Tribunal’s findings,” Mr Riesterer says.
“We believe this settlement is crucial to the future of our iwi. The settlement redress will not only acknowledge the past, but will give all of Whakatōhea the tools to be able to drive our own future.”