Well-being of Waikato River focus of draft Treaty agreement

Saturday 26 May 2007, 5:32PM
By Matt Dodds


A draft Agreement in Principle (AIP) to settle Waikato-Tainui's historical Treaty claim to the Waikato River was released publicly today.


A draft Agreement in Principle (AIP) to settle Waikato-Tainui's historical Treaty claim to the Waikato River was released publicly today.

The draft AIP, agreed to by Treaty Negotiations Minister Mark Burton on behalf of the Crown and Waikato-Tainui's Co-Negotiators Tukoroirangi Morgan and Lady Raiha Mahuta, was presented to Waikato-Tainui's tribal Parliament, Te Kauhanganui, for its consideration.

The health and well-being of the Waikato River is the key focus of the draft AIP, Mark Burton said. "The proposed settlement seeks to recognise Waikato-Tainui's special relationship with the river and ensure that the river is managed in an integrated way."

"The conclusion of a draft AIP is a significant milestone between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui to settle this claim. The intention of the proposed settlement is to provide for the Crown and Waikato to enter into a new era of good faith engagement and consensus decision-making over the Waikato River.

"The proposed settlement is an opportunity for both parties and others to address the issue of pollution of the river and create a management strategy that takes into account the interests of the many and varied users of the river."

The draft AIP would establish a new management structure for the river, creating 'Guardians of the Waikato River' to be responsible for a vision and strategy for the river, which would be made up of representatives of Waikato-Tainui, other river iwi, the Crown, and Environment Waikato. A separate statutory board would be established to assist with the implementation of the strategy, made up of equal numbers of Waikato-Tainui and Environment Waikato Councillors.

"The draft AIP proposes a unique form of settlement redress to reflect the special nature of the Waikato River and its importance to Waikato-Tainui and to all New Zealanders," Mark Burton said.

Waikato-Tainui's claims relating to the confiscation of land were settled in 1995, but their remaining historical claims were set aside to be negotiated later. This draft AIP addresses their claim to the river. The river claim is based on the Crown's raupatu (confiscation) in the 1860s, which denied Waikato-Tainui's rights and interests in the Waikato River.
"Consultation on the draft AIP will now begin involving Waikato-Tainui, other Waikato River iwi, Environment Waikato, other relevant local authorities, and the public.

"I want to congratulate the Waikato-Tainui Co-Negotiators on reaching this important milestone, and to acknowledge the hard work of those who first advanced the claim, including the late Sir Robert Mahuta. I believe this marks the beginning of a new era for the Waikato River.

"Today's announcement is an important landmark for the relationship between the Crown and iwi. New Zealanders can be proud that historic claims are being acknowledged and addressed in such a constructive way," Mark Burton said.

Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia welcomed the release of the draft AIP.
"The settlement of Waikato-Tainui's claim to the river will further strengthen the already positive relationship between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui," he said.

"Through their settlements with the Crown, Waikato-Tainui is building solid foundations on which to advance the interests of their people," Minister Horomia said.

Download the associated document file here.