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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Whare PR

ŌPOTIKI, 29 June 2020: An Eastern Bay of Plenty hapū is refuting a Waitangi Tribunal claim made last week on their behalf, but without the mandate of the hapū.

Graeme Riesterer, Chairman of Ngāti Patumoana, and Chairman of the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust, has been left bewildered by the claim.

“Allegations have been made that our hapū, Ngāti Patumoana, do not support Settlement nor the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust. We absolutely refute that. This claim has never been brought to any of our hapū hui for discussion. This is the opinion of a couple of lone wolves who do not, and have never had, the consolidated position of our hapū.”

Riesterer says they understand that some of their whānau may have different views around the Whakatōhea Settlement.  Whakatōhea now find themselves in a unique and exciting position; those who favoured a Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry over proceeding with Settlement no longer have to choose between the two options.

“In December 2019 it was announced that a Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry would happen in parallel to Settlement negotiations, a first in New Zealand history.  Whakatōhea whānau get to settle and still have our stories told in the Waitangi Tribunal. This is an absolute win-win, as we have always been in support of our whānau who wanted a Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry.”

According to Riesterer, it would be disingenuous to wish for the completion of only one of these processes when both are now available to all whānau and hapū of Whakatōhea.

For Ngāti Patumoana, hapū hui are held monthly at Waiaua marae. Riesterer says that all whānau with views for and against Settlement have always been welcome to come and have their say.

“We invite all uri of Patumoana to join in and get educated around what this Settlement is, and what it will mean for Ngāti Patumoana and Whakatōhea as a whole.

“There are many of us who have been involved in a Whakatōhea Settlement from the start, back to the 1980s. I am one of them. I can see huge benefits to my whānau and all of Whakatōhea to be able to settle. It would mean so much, to so many of us,” he says.

Piripi Baker, hapū member of Ngāti Patumoana, is excited by the incredible future available to them with Settlement.

“With the Crown investing in the Ōpōtiki harbour development, Whakatōhea can leverage this by creating our own aquaculture ventures, jobs and other investments which will benefit all of Whakatōhea for generations to come”.

Baker says the aquaculture industry is a $200 billion-dollar industry globally and that Whakatōhea have an opportunity to capitalise on it if Settlement can be reached this year.
“If we do not settle now, it will be another 10 to 20 years and these opportunities that once existed for Whakatōhea will be forfeited and others will grab them,” says Baker.