Govt has 'no intention' on getting involved in Ihumātao deal

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 18 September 2019, 6:28PM
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said it would have to be "one extraordinarily high benchmark" for the Government to get involved in Ihumātao. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said it would have to be "one extraordinarily high benchmark" for the Government to get involved in Ihumātao. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

The Government appears to be unmoved by the Māori King's urging of the Crown to negotiate with Fletcher Building to "return Ihumātao to its rightful owners".

Speaking to media before question time today, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said it would have to be "one extraordinarily high benchmark" for the Government to get involved.

"And hitherto, we do not see that benchmark."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson confirmed in the House this afternoon that the Government has "absolutely no intention of reopening full and final [Treaty] settlements".

And senior NZ First Minister Shane Jones has told the Herald the Ihumātao land should be used for housing development.

"Given the white-water we're taking in housing, it would probably be a good idea to proceed with housing."

This comes after Māori King Kīngi Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII said he had successfully guided the mana whenua of Ihumātao to a unified position.

"Mana whenua agree they want their land returned, so they can make decisions about its future," he said.

He added that Kīngitanga had conveyed the views of mana whenua to the Government and urged it to negotiate with Fletcher for the "return of Ihumātao to its rightful owners".

In a statement, Peters thanked the King for his work.

But speaking to media, he said any questions around what the Government's role was going forward was "not relevant".

Asked if the Government would ever consider buying the land from Fletcher and return it to manu whenua, Peters said the land was subject to a major Waitangi deal – "there has been a settlement".

Peters, who is also NZ First's leader, said: "Some of the questions being put up for speculation at the moment are not helpful because they don't help a resolution on this matter."

Jones told the Herald that NZ First's position on Ihumātao had not changed, despite Kīngi Tūheitia's statements this morning.

"We don't want to reopen the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and we desperately think that the site is ideal for ... housing."

In fact, he suggested that the Tainui iwi – which has historic ties to Ihumātao – could buy the land.

"Let's face it, Tainui are very affluent and every year they get an additional cheque from the government as they're entitlement to share in the proceeds of all the other settlements.

"So it's not as if Tainui don't have any money."

National Leader Simon Bridges said the Government needed to immediately reject the call from iwi for it to negotiate with Fletcher over Ihumātao.

"Fletchers legally owns this land. If this settlement is brought into question then so will all other full and final Treaty of Waitangi settlements."

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