The Crown and Whanganui iwi have signed a Record of Understanding which will act as the foundation for negotiating a settlement of historical grievances associated with the Whanganui River, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson and Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today.
“This is a commitment by both parties to work together to settle grievances which iwi have tried to have addressed by the Crown and the Courts since 1873.
“The Government is committed to working with iwi to ensure our longest navigable waterway is in good health, and the mana of Whanganui iwi in relation to the river is recognised.
“The Record of Understanding (ROU) provides all parties with direction about the matters to be discussed in the negotiations. It means that we will start formal negotiations with a clear sense of the issues which need to be resolved. Whanganui iwi have waited too long to have their grievances addressed. There is still a lot of work to do, but agreement on the framework contained in the ROU is a very positive step in the right direction,” the Ministers said.
Key Points – Framework for Negotiations
The negotiations agenda will include:
• How the status and the mana of the river as a whole will be recognized
• How the river will be managed as an integrated whole, from the mountains to the sea.
• How the mana of Whanganui iwi in relation to the river will be recognised in any agreement
• How Whanganui iwi will be involved in the management of the river alongside the Crown, local government and the wider catchment community.
• How a river settlement will be integrated into existing management structures for the river
• Discussion about the appointment of River Trustees to promote and protect the health and well-being of the river, and
• Discussion about the possible development of a set of river values to guide future governance of the river and a whole river strategy to promote integrated management of the river.
The negotiation will provide for input from local government, other stakeholders and other iwi with interests in the river.
Any settlement will preserve public access and have no adverse impact on existing private property rights.
Negotiations are expected to begin in early 2012.