Wairiki MP Tamati Coffey stands by his comments that the Pare Hauraki settlement was signed off by the previous government.
The claim caused a nationwide backlash, including from the Maori Party which has rejected his explanations altogether.
“History shows the previous Government and the Pare Hauraki Collective initialled the Redress Deed just prior to Christmas 2016 and signed the Framework Agreement in July 2011,” says Tamati.
However, Maori Party president Che Wilson says: "the record shows that former Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said in Parliament in July 2017, that he would not sign a deal with the Hauraki Collective until all issues have been worked out".
Tamati says it is simply ‘fact’.
“Understandably there is a lot of emotion, I feel it too. What concerns me is the level of misinformation that is unnecessarily causing our whānau additional anguish.
“Addressing these misconceptions are; the factual changes to the Deed; the fact that the process is still at the start and nowhere near the Third reading; and the Government doesn’t decide mana whenua - that power belongs to iwi,” says Tamati.
“Since the signing, I have met with Ngai Te Rangi CEO Paora Stanley and reaffirmed our open lines of communication. I am encouraged by his willingness to seek a conclusion on behalf of his people, and look forward to supporting any process that achieves this.”
Tamati says he will continue to walk alongside Tauranga Moana, both on the ground in Tauranga and by advocating for Ngai Te Rangi in Parliament.
“I want to be clear – the Government has no right to determine mana whenua or mana moana. These are matters for iwi to establish and inform the Government.
“This settlement is vastly different to the one we inherited.
“Minister Andrew Little changed a number of things as a result of hearing and listening to what our united Tauranga voice advocated for, and I thank him for that.
“All cultural redress in Tauranga Moana has been pulled out of Hauraki’s Deed until tikanga among iwi decide what that looks like.”
Tamati says they have also removed some of Hauraki’s statutory recognitions in Tauranga, including conservation and fisheries covenants, and put aside Hauraki interests in Matakana Island until dealt with through tikanga.
“I stress, the signing of the Deed isn’t close to a final third reading. It simply unblocks korero from a stalemate and moves both iwi into a tikanga-process which has already started in some cases.
“Myself, the wider Labour Māori Caucus and Minister Little are encouraging both iwi to meet and korero, so both iwi can move forward.”