It’s all relative

Ngai Tahu settlement

Recently some mainstream media ran a story on Ngāi Tahu and Waikato-Tainui “quietly” receiving “huge top-ups” to their “full and final settlements.” These relativity payments were agreed between the Crown and these iwi as part of their settlements.

Simply put, as Ngāi Tahu and Tainui were being offered a proportion of the pie that was available at the time (the $1b the Crown proposed to allocate to all settlements), it was agreed that if the pie increased in size over time they would get some more of it – meaning that the total amount they received would remain proportional to what was committed at the outset. As this balanced discussion of relativity payments explains, these payouts are part of the Crown’s contractual obligations, there’s nothing secretive in making them.

Within the skewed reporting on Treaty settlement relativity payments there was a bigger story that was totally overlooked — that according to the Office of Treaty Settlements a total of $2.2 billion was spent on Treaty settlements to iwi in the last 25 years (1992 – 2017). Here are a couple of examples of relativity in the context of the total financial payments.

Settlements govt exp


So where’s the headline story about the relatively tiny amounts that are being allocated to this process?

Why Ngāi Tahu and Tainui’s Treaty payment top-ups are fair and legal (The Spinoff 23/01/18)
Ministry of Defence takes the blame for a $148 milllion frigate upgrade budget blowout (Stuff 14/12/17)
Financial Statements Year End June 17 (Treasury)
Office of Treaty Settlements.


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