Finance Minister Bill English has backed a recent Court of Appeal judgement stating that legal costs in excess of $2 million incurred by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust (CFRT) is not only unacceptable but also unnecessary and is a waste of time and money.
Speaking to TVNZ’s Te Karere programme Mr English says it is now time for the NZ Māori Council and the Federation of Māori Authorities to move on and put aside their differences.
“It's been a pointless argument that has achieved nothing and the nominating bodies really do have to sort out their relationship and this kind of destructive behaviour,” says Mr English.
“At times it's paralysed the CFRT and when you are not involved in it’s really hard to understand what it is they're arguing over,” he says.
The Finance Minister has the authority to appoint the three Crown Trustees to the CFRT. While the three Māori Trustees are appointed by the Māori Appointors FOMA and NZMC.
The trustees are responsible for setting the appropriate criteria for and allocating funds and two trustees from each side must agree any resolution of the trustees for it to have effect under the deed.
“I think everyone who has an interest in that fund which is Government, all of Maoridom and futureTreaty claimants deserve an explanation as to when this behaviour is going to stop,” says Mr English.
The CFRT was established by Trust Deed, settled by the Crown, on 30 April 1990. The role of the CFRT is to use rental fees received from forestry licences over certain Crown lands to help Treaty claimants to prepare, present and negotiate Treaty claims with the Crown. The CFRT is governed solely by its Trust Deed and is under the jurisdiction of the High Court.