Treaty of Waitangi Minister Andrew Little has decided to continue pushing ahead with negotiations with Whakatōhea while a Tribunal inquiry into historical grievances is carried out.
The Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi voted overwhelmingly to halt its Treaty negotiations with the Crown last year, after a damning report by the Waitangi Tribunal said negotiations were being rushed, in order for the government to achieve its objective of finalising all Treaty settlements by 2020.
Te Whakatōhea has been trying to reach a settlement with the Crown for 20 years. Their struggle is representative of many, focusing on who should represent them and what form Treaty settlement redress should take. All seven of their hapū unanimously want the negotiations stopped to hold a Tribunal inquiry.
However, Little said today that, "We made the judgement as the Crown that we would support the Tribunal in doing an inquiry but at the same time we would continue negotiations to the extent that it doesn't compromise what the Tribunal might later rule on."
Karen Mokomoko, a claimant for Mokomoko hapū, said it was time for the Crown to stop and listen.
"Until they actually listen and hear what we're saying they won't understand why we need this process to stop, rather than just steamrolling ahead and making things so that it'll come a time where it's too late."