Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

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Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
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Andrew Little, 2017.jpg
Andrew Little[1]

since 26 October 2017[1]
Ministry of Justice
StyleThe Honourable
Member ofExecutive Council
Reports toPrime Minister of New Zealand
NominatorPrime Minister of New Zealand[1]
AppointerGovernor-General of New Zealand
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
First holderDoug Graham
Unofficial namesTreaty Negotiations Minister
Salary$243,841 [2]

The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, otherwise known as the Treaty Negotiations Minister or the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, is a minister in the Government of New Zealand. The minister is tasked with multiple duties including, but not limited to, overseeing the negotiations of Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlements. The Minister falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice.

There is no definitive answer as for when the Ministerial position was established; however, the oldest mention of the position dates to 1990, with the election of the National-NZ First Coalition; who was elected on the promise of settling major Treaty claims.[3]


The primary responsibility of the Minister is to ensure and maintain fair settlements between Maori and the Crown and to provide oversight over the negotiation and settlement process.[4] The lead negotiating power within the Treaty negotiations is the Office of Treaty Settlements; however, this office reports to the Treaty Negotiations Minister, and makes its decisions based on the recommendations of the Cabinet.[3]

Another key responsibility for the Treaty Negotiations Minister is to provide a Crown-backed apology to every claimant, once their settlement has been legislated, as a form of acknowledgement of the government alienation that led to the settlement being lodged, as well as an act of good faith with the hope of future co-operation between the two parties.[3] In 1997, then-Minister Doug Graham said, "The goal is to restore the relationship so that all New Zealanders can face the future without looking back at the problems of the past".[5]

Settlement Process[edit]

The settlement process, as a whole, is simple; however, due to the fact that multiple iwi can lay claim to certain assets; for example land, rivers, and ect; most settlements are made public after both Claimants and Crown have agreed upon a settlement. This is done to ensure there is no overlap within claims.[3]

There are four stages before a settlement is finalised.[6]

  • Stage 1: Pre-Negotiation - Claimants appoint representatives to represent their claims. Minister of Treaty Negotiations appoints Crown representatives.
  • Stage 2: Negotiation - Claimants and Crown representatives negotiate a settlement, in the form of a Deed of Settlement and it is proposed to the Claimant group to be accepted or denied. If accepted, Stage 3 begins; however, if denied, Stage 2 is re-negotiated.
  • Stage 3: Legislation - The deed is passed into legislation and becomes a legally binding settlement. Settlement also becomes a New Zealand Law.
  • Stage 4: Implementation - Claimant and Crown work together to ensure all aspects of the settlement are upheld, to their best abilities.


The precursor for the establishment of this position was the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975, which allowed Maori to lodge claims against the Crown for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. The scope of claims was widened in 1985, when the Labour Government extended the Tribunals jurisdiction, and allowed Maori to claim on breaches dating back to 1840.[7]

The next government action that was a forerunner for the establishment of the Ministerial position was the creation of the Treaty of Waitangi Policy Unit, under the Ministry of Justice, in 1988, which allowed for the Crown to bypass the Tribunal and advise policy for the negotiations of Maori claims.[8]

The Office of Treaty Settlements was established in 1995.[8]

Crown Settlements[edit]

Since the 1975 establishment of the Tribunal, there have been more than 2000 claims lodged by multiple iwi, hapu, and whanau.[9] Although most claims consist of small parcels of land, or financial reimbursement, there are few that are very substantial.[10] An example of a substantial claim is the 1986 Ngai Tahu claim, that was ultimately settled in 1998 under the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act, 1998[11], where Ngai Tahu was awarded $170 million from the Tribunal as Settlement payment for breaches against Ngai Tahu under the Treaty.[12]

By 2010, settlements had totaled $950 million, with the majority, $671 million, being settled within just four settlements, including the aforementioned Ngai Tahu settlement. The remaining three, of the aforementioned four, settlements are; the Commercial Fisheries (1992) deal, valued at $170 million; the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu (1995) settlement, valued at $170 million; and the Central North Island Forestry (2008) agreement, valued at $161 million.[12][13]

List of Treaty Negotiations Ministers[edit]

This is an incomplete list of former, and the incumbent, Ministers responsible for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

Colour key
(for political parties)

 Labour    National  

No. Name Portrait Term of Office Prime Minister
1 Doug Graham No image.png 2 November 1990 10 December 1999 Bolger
2 Margaret Wilson Margaret Wilson Senate of Poland 01.JPG 10 December 1999 28 February 2005 Clark
3 Mark Burton Mark Burton.jpg 28 February 2005 31 October 2007
4 Michael Cullen Michael Cullen, 2008.jpg 31 October 2007 19 November 2008
5 Chris Finlayson Chris Finlayson-Net Hui 2011.jpg 19 November 2008 26 October 2017 Key
6 Andrew Little Andrew Little, 2017.jpg 26 October 2016[1] Incumbent Ardern


  1. ^ a b c d "Ministerial List". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination 2016" (PDF). New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Hickey, Maureen (2006). "Negotiating History: Crown Apologies in New Zealand's Historical Treaty of Waitangi Settlements". Public History Review. 13 (1): 108–124. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ Rumbles, Wayne (13 February 1999). Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Process: New Relationship or New Mask? (PDF). Wollongong: University of Waikato School of Law. pp. 1–20. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Settling historical Treaty of Waitangi claims". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Waitangi Tribunal created - 10 October 1975". New Zealand History. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Treaty Timeline: Page 4 - Treaty Events since 1950". New Zealand History. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  9. ^ "The Treaty in brief: Page 1 – Introduction". New Zealand History. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  10. ^ Douglas, Graham (1996). "Crown Proposals For The Settlement Of Treaty Of Waitangi Claims: Summary - Digest". Australian Indigenous Law Reporter. 1 (4): 1–10. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Te Kerēme – Ngāi Tahu Land claim". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  12. ^ a b "How many claims are there, and how many have been settled?". New Zealand History. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Largest ever Treaty deal 'Treelords' passes into law". New Zealand Herald. 25 September 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2017.