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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust

ŌPŌTIKI, 04 February 2021: A North Island iwi has successfully progressed its Te Tiriti o Waitangi negotiations during the global pandemic by shifting its communications online and prompting it to investigate Internet access for whānau through the Settlement process.

While the nation was ‘staying home and staying safe’, the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust (WPCT), who relied primarily on face to face communications through hui, turned to social media to keep whānau updated on Settlement negotiations and at the same time reaching out to whānau in a challenging time.

Graeme Riesterer, Chairman of the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust says whānau of all ages were forced into using digital communications to connect and get their Covid19 updates through lockdown.

“Whānau loved the engagement where they could hop online and read and share their stories in lock down as well as have Settlement kōrero woven into whānau everyday lives. We knew early on that we needed to pivot, just like most of the world, but with a difference. Our messages were about whakawhanaungatanga, whakapapa and sharing as whānau, hapū and Iwi.

What this experience also revealed is that access to the internet and digital connectivity is a human right. Our marae have taken up the digital marae connectivity option with Te Puni Kokiri which is great and some marae are already zooming their meetings. However, through our Settlement and Transformation Framework there is so much more we can do to connect our whānau”.

Whakatōhea is the only Iwi to have ever been afforded a dual process where it can complete its Settlement negotiations with the Crown and continue with Waitangi Tribunal hearings. This has been a positive outcome for whānau who were divided over the approach.

With the immediate increase and effectiveness of Zoom meetings and webinars, the WPCT started monthly ZUI Zoom webinars, Live streamed to Facebook, where whānau are invited onto a panel to have their say on a variety of Settlement topics.

WPCT Negotiator Maui Hudson says they thought Covid19 restrictions would stop a lot of the mahi and momentum that had gone into the negotiations, and while it delayed them, they were able to create a more robust Settlement package and communicate that more effectively with whānau.

“We knew that whānau were asking for clear, transparent information on Settlement, and the dual process was something that had never been done before. We initiated the monthly ZUI so Whakatōhea could hear from whānau on what their Settlement views were. In that respect, they weren’t just hearing it from us, but from whānau they know and trust”.

The monthly ZUI get thousands of views every month and connects whānau from all over the globe, engaging and extending audience reach. This month’s ZUI panel are Whakatōhea whānau who all live offshore and will be discussing how Settlement will affect them.

Whakatōhea ratification will take place in April 2021 where whānau will have the chance to have their say on whether they accept the Settlement package that has been negotiated or not.

About the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust

Whakatōhea is located in the eastern Bay of Plenty region centred around Ōpōtiki, with its rohe extending eastwards from Ohiwa Harbour to Opape along the coastline, and inland to Matawai.

The Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust is the entity chosen by Whakatōhea to advance negotiations with the Crown for a Settlement to address historical raupatu claims.