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TO CLAIMANTS, PAPARAHI O TE RAKI INQUIRY

The New Zealand Māori Council is the body which took the High Court proceedings in 1989 resulting in the establishment of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust. In settling the litigation, the Council agreed to a Trust to fund you to take your claims in your own way to the Tribunal and the Government. It was a very simple trust to receive and decide upon your applications for funding with power to outsource financial and other operations.

The Council has read the several reports from the Trust Chair for herself and some Trustees but as the body responsible for the Trust’s formation, the Council now wishes tō explain why it is taking proceedings against the Trust’s operations. The position is simply that in the Council’s considered view, the Trust is not now operating as it was meant to in terms of the Trust Deed, and that it is acting unfairly towards Māori in many ways.

In the case of Te Paparahi o te Raki we see the main unfairness this way:

· After hearing the people, the Tribunal proposed 21 weeks hearings.

· The government was proposing 6 weeks hearings, then negotiations.

· The Trustees did nothing for 4 months after the 21 weeks was first proposed.

· Then in December, without a valid application before it, the Trust decided on six weeks without disclosing whether it would fund any more.

· The Crown has now proposed that a mandate be recognised for negotiations.

· The Trust has a policy of not funding other groups once a mandate has been recognised.

· Which appears tō boil down to 6 weeks hearings and then negotiations, with funding thereafter limited to the body recognised as mandated by the Government.

The Council thinks the claimants have not been fairly heard. As a national body, Council has nō opinion on whether there should be 6 weeks or 21 weeks hearings and no opinion on the body with whom negotiations should be held. The Council is concerned only with fair process. If there are people who want more than 6 weeks of hearings they should be able to present a case for funding from the Trust and have that case considered on its merits. Likewise if a group outside the mandated authority seeks assistance for some legitimate purpose their application to should be considered on its merits. There is nothing in the Trust Deed that said funding could be limited in the way the Trust policy describes and the Council does not support such a black and white approach.

Council regrets the block on the passage of funds to you and believes the block should have been removed long ago. Our lawyers proposed the immediate release of funds based on a mediated commitment to the rapid resolution of the legal issues, but mediation was rejected. We will continue tō urge mediation and the immediate release of funds to you.

The issue of alternates is a sideshow that can be briefly explained. The Trust Deed provides for the Māori Council and FoMA to appoint alternates for their trustees. On 4 February the Council proposed Hon John Tamihere as alternate for Sir Edward Durie for the Trustee meeting on 12 February, but on 11 February the Trust chair arranged for Mr Peter Charleton tō be there instead. No disrespect is intended to Mr Charleton. However, the Trust chair’s actions were not lawful and breached the terms of the Trust Deed.

The Council remains determined tō uphold fair and equal process for Māori in relation to CFRT funding in this district and in all others.

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