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Whangarei hapū challenge Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua settlement negotiations

Whangarei hapū are challenging the mandate the Crown has given to Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua in settlement negotiations. They've taken their concerns to the Waitangi Tribunal under urgency. One of those in opposition is Hinemoa Apetera of Te Parawhau, "I don't want them to maintain the notion of Māori in Whangarei being virtually landless, because this will make us landless if Ngāti Whātua wins this case." But CEO of the Rūnanga, Alan Riwaka, says that over 300 people of Te Parawhau registered under the rūnanga, "We really encourage Te Parawhau to come together and decide what they're doing for them to be moving forward, so we absolutely encourage that." Those opposing the settlement deal say they only received an update on negotiations two weeks ago. Nicki Wakefield who is a kaimahi at Te Manamotuhake ā Rohe o Whangarei says, "It's a mop-up claim. We understand that Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua has negotiated with Ngāti Wai and Tūhoronuku to define their area of interest and again, that's done without hapū consent". Mike Kake of Ngāti Hau was shocked at the amount of land that Ngāti Whātua was interested in for the settlement, "If you look at the map of their claim, it's wide, it's huge, it's massive!" "I guess I need to emphasize the area north of the area of interest for Ngāti Whātua, it's not about mana whenua at all. This is more about people having awareness around the problems that we're confronted with and that in terms of any planning that we do with the regional and district councils, is that we need to make sure that we take account for all the situation that's coming down those main waterways," says Riwaka. There is a lot of speculation and the rūnanga says that numerous hui have already taken place alongside opposing parties and hapū. "We've got about 44 groups that we're needing to be consulting with at the moment and that's probably grown to about 50 odd groups right now." Huhana Lindon, a member of Te Orewai is adamant they will continue to dispute negotiations until a resolution is reached that takes their mana into account. "Us as a people, we find this disrespectful and wrong. We should have input on what happens over our region, our rivers, and our land," says Lindon. "We're not trying to disrupt whakapapa between us and them, whanaungatanga is a big part of we are, but for this Treaty settlement, it needs to be in the hands of the mana whenua. Allow us to make a decision." Ngāti Whātua hopes to have the deed of settlement signed by early 2020.