Claim Wai 9, the Orakei claim, was filed in February 1984 by Joe Hawke and 12 others on behalf of Ngati Whatua and concerned the Orakei block in Auckland.
The Tribunal constituted to hear the claim comprised Chief Judge Eddie Durie (presiding), Sir Graham Latimer, and Paul Temm QC, and hearings were held in May and July 1985. However, a Bill was then before Parliament that proposed extending the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to cover events dating back to 1840, and the case was adjourned at the claimants’ request to await the outcome of the Bill.
Following the enactment of the Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act in 1986, the claimants formally abandoned their old claim and filed another in April of that year. The claimants then alleged that, by the actions of the Crown, Ngati Whatua of Orakei were wrongly deprived of the 700-acre Orakei block. They claimed that the block ought to have been reserved for them as a whole in tribal ownership and control, in accordance with their customs, and they claimed to have been prejudicially affected by the loss of their land.
The Tribunal reconstituted to hear this new claim comprised Chief Judge Eddie Durie (presiding), Bishop Manuhuia Bennett, Sir Monita Delamere, Professor Gordon Orr, Professor Keith Sorrenson, and Georgina Te Heuheu. A hearing was held in November 1986, and the Tribunal released its report a year later, in November 1987.
‘These recommendations we make that the Crown may yet support its Treaty commitment to Ngati Whatua. For a tribe that initiated and aided substantially the establishment of Auckland on its land, that stood by the Crown in moments of great crises, that held fast to law and order despite every vicissitude put upon it, and which suffered the most dreadful consequences and then through no fault of its own – and great fault on the part of others – what we recommend is small recompense indeed. Yet it would be a major step to implementing the principles of the Treaty, that the tribal right long denied should now be re-affirmed in a realistic way and that the Crown should move in no unstinting manner to promote the re-establishment of the tribe it displaced.’
The Waitangi Tribunal
The Waitangi Tribunal found that the Crown had breached the Treaty of Waitangi when it purchased the Orakei block and that the block should have been kept as a reserve in tribal ownership. The Crown had also failed to protect the rights and property of the hapu, in breach of its Treaty obligations. The Tribunal recommended that Okahu Park and the headlands of Bastion Point be returned to Ngati Whatua to be used as public parks and that the Orakei marae and the Okahu church and urupa be returned to Ngati Whatua.
‘Ngati Whatua of Orakei may have little land left, but it is the only tribe in New Zealand to own all that it has in the customary way.’
The Waitangi Tribunal