The voting results of the Whakatōhea Settelement Process were relased yesterday and it is clear that all Whakatōhea hapū have all voted in support of a Waitangi Tribunal process.

“I am almost certain that all the claimants are extremly happy right now that the results have clearly indiciated all hapū support a Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry into all the Whakatōhea claims. This has been Ngāti Ira’s consistent battle since 2015 when we filed in the North-Eastern Bay of Plenty District Inquiry. We filed for an urgent hearing in 2017 and one of the Tribunal recommendations was for Whakatōhea hapū have their say” states Ms Te Ringahuia Hata, one of the Ngāti Ira claimants.

“Well, they have spoken. We do not support direct negotiations at this time and certainly do not support the Whakatōhea Pre-settlelment Trust to represent any of our claims. How many messgaes do we have to send to the Crown?” says Ms Hata.

In accordance with a direction of the Waitangi Tribunal, it was recommended that all substantive negotiations be suspended until the completion of the vote. The Tribunal thought that it was of fundamental importance that Whakatōhea hapū be given an opportunity to decide how they now wish to proceed in a way that is more transparent. The Report stated:

“Voting should be through hapū, postal and web voting and votes recorded on a hapū basis (consistent with the recommendations of Te Ara Tono).”

2,876 votes were received from 8,839 eligible voters which was a 32.54% voter return. Three hapu have clearly voted against the WPSCT continuing to negotiate to reach a settlement and four hapu have voted that they still support the entity, however there was only a 9 vote margin for the hapu of one of the negotiators, Maui Hudson from Ngai Tamahaua, who insisted that a Tribunal Inquiry was too lengthy, research was unecessary and it would not change the quantum amount offered by the Crown, in fact it stated that it may decrease.

“For us it is not about money, but the mana and integrity of the claims and the right to have all our claims inquired into. We disagree that research would not add any value to the settlement and I think the entire catchcry from the WPSCT negotiator has been riddled bad legal advice and continual deception of our people from the start” states Mr Te Rua Rakuraku, lead claimant for Ngāti Ira.

“28 claimants out of 31 want a Tribunal Inquiry and these latest results support that. We deserve to be respected and the Treaty of Waitangi Act guarantees that.”