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The Waitangi Tribunal has today released a pre-publication version of its report on the Treaty claims of iwi and hapū of Te Tau Ihu (the northern South Island). The eight recognised iwi are Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Atiawa, and Rangitāne.
The Tribunal is releasing this pre-publication version of its report at the request of claimants in Te Tau Ihu in order to assist them in reaching agreements in principle with the Crown. It is complete except for a chapter dealing with natural resources and the environment, and any recommendations arising from those issues. The Te Tau Ihu Tribunal expects to complete its final report in September 2008.
The Tribunal inquiry panel comprises Deputy Chief Judge Wilson Isaac (presiding), Professor Keith Sorrenson, Pam Ringwood, John Clarke, and Rangitihi Tahuparae.
In its report, the Tribunal has found that many acts and omissions of the Crown breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. In particular, the Tribunal concludes that ownership of all but a tiny fraction of land in the Te Tau Ihu inquiry district was lost to Te Tau Ihu Māori without first gaining their free, informed and meaningful consent to the alienations. Nor did the Crown ensure that fair prices were paid and sufficient lands retained by the iwi for their own requirements.
The Tribunal finds that, contrary to Treaty principles, the Crown granted lands at Nelson and Golden Bay to the New Zealand Company without first ensuring that all customary owners were fairly dealt with. It then proceeded with its own large-scale Wairau and Waipounamu purchases, making predetermined decisions as to ownership which ignored the rights of many Te Tau Ihu Māori or left them with little meaningful choice over the alienation of their lands.
As a result, by as early as 1860 Te Tau Ihu Māori had lost most of their original estate. Thereafter, the Crown failed to actively protect their interests in those lands which remained to them.
The Tribunal finds that the totality of Treaty breaches are serious and have caused significant social, economic, cultural, and spiritual prejudice to all iwi of Te Tau Ihu. These breaches, the Tribunal considers, require large and culturally appropriate redress.
In an attempt to assist Te Tau Ihu Treaty settlements, the Tribunal has made several recommendations for remedies. Having regard in particular to the relatively even spread in terms of social and economic prejudice across all eight Te Tau Ihu iwi, the Tribunal recommends that the total quantum of financial and commercial redress be divided equally between them.
The Tribunal also recommends that site-specific cultural redress should be discussed collectively with all groups involved in Te Tau Ihu Treaty negotiations. The Tribunal recommends a need for special recognition of the unique claim of Ngāti Apa, whose customary interests within Te Tau Ihu were never extinguished by any kind of deed of cession. The Tribunal finds that the Crown’s repeated failure to properly recognise and deal with the Kurahaupō iwi as the legitimate tangata whenua (alongside the northern tribes) of Te Tau Ihu to be a serious breach. It recommends that the Crown take steps to fully recognise and restore the mana of the Kurahaupō iwi.
The Tribunal recommends that the settlement of historical grievances relating to Wakatu Incorporation is most appropriately a matter to be concluded between the Crown and Te Tau Ihu iwi and that matters affecting the shareholders of Wakatu Incorporation since its establishment in 1977 should be resolved between the Incorporation and the Crown. It recommends that the Crown enter into parallel negotiations with the Ngāti Rārua Atiawa Iwi Trust, with a view to bringing the Whakarewa (Motueka) leases into line with the 1997 Māori reserved lands settlement.
The Tribunal’s report has highlighted a number of shortcomings with respect to the current ‘offer-back’ regime under the Public Works Act 1981. It recommends amendments to the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 and the Public Works Act to address these issues.
Finally, the Tribunal makes recommendations with respect to the customary interests of Te Tau Ihu iwi within the statutorily defined Ngāi Tahu takiwā. Te Tau Ihu iwi have lost the ability to recover their interests in lands within the takiwā, which have been vested in Ngāi Tahu as a result of earlier Crown settlement. The Tribunal strongly recommends that the Crown take urgent action to ensure that these breaches do not continue. It also recommends that the Crown negotiate with those Te Tau Ihu iwi identified in the report as having customary interests within the statutorily defined Ngāi Tahu takiwā to agree on equitable compensation.