In its Pakakohi and Tangahoe Settlement Claims Report, released in November 2000, the Waitangi Tribunal found that the Crown’s decision to accept the right of Ngāti Ruanui to settle historical claims in south Taranaki on behalf of Pakakohi and Tangahoe was ‘safe’.
The Tribunal found that the claimants, the Te Runanganui o Te Pakakohi Trust Incorporation and the Te Iwi o Tangahoe Incorporation, had not demonstrated a mandate to represent Pakakohi and Tangahoe in settlement negotiations. By contrast, the Tribunal found that there was insufficient evidence that the Crown’s decision to recognise the mandate of the Ngāti Ruanui negotiating body to represent these groups was ‘unsafe’.
The two claimants groups had alleged that the Crown’s decision not to negotiate separate settlements with them was in breach of the Treaty. However, the Tribunal found that the overwhelming majority of Tangahoe and Pakakohi people supported the proposed settlement.
The claims were heard in November 2000 by the Tribunal as a matter of urgency after the Crown and Ngāti Ruanui had signalled an intention to sign a $41 million settlement that month. The Tribunal had earlier that year attempted to resolve the matter by facilitating a mediation process between the parties, but that process had been unsuccessful.
In endorsing the Crown’s mandating decisions, the Tribunal nevertheless recommended that discussions between the parties continue in order to find ways to better express the importance of the Pakakohi and Tangahoe traditions to Ngāti Ruanui in the deed of settlement.Were those traditions not factored in, said the Tribunal, a real danger would exist that ‘the Pakakohi and Tangahoe identities would be written out of Taranaki history’. That, said the Tribunal, would create a fresh grievance out of the settlement of an old one.