January 14, 2015
Negotiation documents stay secret
The Chief Ombudsman has backed up a decision by the Office of Treaty Settlements to withhold information relating to Whanganui River iwi Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.
In 2009 then-Horizons regional councillor Mike Plowman, who farms at Kaitieke near Taumarunui, sought documents relating to "water co-management or proposals for water co-management" that formed part of the negotiations.
The OTS identified an exchange of correspondence in 2004 between then-Minister Margaret Wilson and the Whanganui River Maori Trust Board, but refused to release the letters because negotiations had resumed.
Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem said while some information was released in redacted (edited)form during the investigation because of progress in the negotiations, the remainder was properly withheld.
She said there was a real risk that a release would harm the relationship between the Crown and the Whanganui iwi and thus detrimentally affect the Crown’s ability to finalise its negotiations with the iwi.
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