Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson has hit back at Tauranga Moana iwi over their protests against the Hauraki Collective settlement.
A spokesperson for the minister says as far back as 2004, the Waitangi Tribunal confirmed Hauraki iwi have customary interests in Tauranga Moana, particularly in the Katikati-Te Puna area.
“Several weeks ago the government was accused of entering into a secret deal with iwi of Hauraki,” says the spokesperson.
“That is wrong. There is no secret deal. Ngai Te Rangi has been advised of this fact repeatedly.
“An overlapping claims process between iwi of Hauraki and Tauranga Moana iwi (including Ngai Te Rangi) has been ongoing since 2012. The parties have agreed a range of matters including recognising the interests of Hauraki iwi in the Tauranga Moana Framework by adding a fifth iwi seat to the Tauranga Moana Governance Group.”
Proposed arrangements for the Tauranga Moana Governance Group (part of the Tauranga Moana Framework) provide for four seats for Tauranga Moana iwi, one seat for iwi of Hauraki (and any other iwi with recognised interests in the Tauranga Moana catchment) and five seats for local government.
“No date has been confirmed for the signing of a deed of redress with Pare Hauraki as negotiations are ongoing. The intention is to sign the Pare Hauraki Collective Redress Deed when negotiations are closed.”
On Sunday, local iwi protested the Crown's negotiations with the Hauraki Collective by marching across the Wairoa Bridge – an act that resulted in the bridge being closed for a short period of time.
Tauranga MP and Transport Minister Simon Bridges says people have a democratic right to protest peacefully.
“It's clearly something local iwi feel strongly about. In regard to it being on a state highway, it was good that the protest was on a weekend so less working traffic was disrupted, but the closing of such roads should be used very sparingly."
NZTA provided traffic management for the protest, while the decision to close the highway completely was made by police.