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Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Welcomes Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

On behalf of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust

17 September 2018

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Welcomes Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust has today welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling that Crown decisions regarding the transfer of land as part of proposed Treaty of Waitangi settlements can be judicially reviewed.

The case, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust v Attorney-General, Ngāti Paoa Iwi Trust and Marutūāhu Rōpū Ltd, was heard by the Supreme Court on 14 and 15 May in Wellington.

Today the Court released its decision in favour of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias said in the judgement: “There remains a continuing Treaty relationship which means Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has a continuing interest in how the Crown conducts itself. The approach taken by the Crown sets a pattern I would not at this stage of the proceedings prevent Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei from challenging.”

While the majority of the Supreme Court Justices would have allowed most of the appeal, the Chief Justice notes that she would have allowed the appeal in full. As a result, “…Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei can largely pursue its claim for declarations as to its rights.”

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust Deputy Chair Ngarimu Blair says today’s decision is hugely significant.

“The ruling highlights that there are serious questions about the way the Crown approaches overlapping claims and its relationships with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and all settled iwi.

“We have been seeking the chance to have our case heard in Court for over two years, but the Crown has continually blocked us from doing so,” he says.

“We will now be able to go to the High Court and get clarity about the legitimacy of our rights as Ahi Kā and how the Crown should acknowledge those rights.

“This is not just a win for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei but for the many iwi who have been concerned at the Crown’s approach to the Marutūāhu Collective and Pare Hauraki settlements.”

Mr Blair says the proposed Marutūāhu Collective settlement includes the transfer of properties from within the heartland of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, without any consultation or recognition of its mana whenua rights.

“Our goal has always been to make sure that tikanga is protected. We believe that as Ahi Kā and kaitiaki of this whenua since 1840, our rights should be recognised by both the Crown and Marutūāhu,” he says.

The Crown had argued that the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei claim should be struck out as it could interfere with Parliament’s ability to create legislation. The Chief Justice disagreed, noting that, “Indeed, in some cases it may provide information that Parliament may want to consider.”

Mr Blair confirmed that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei will now consider taking its case to the High Court for a hearing. He has also acknowledged the mahi and support of Ngāti Paoa and iwi from Tauranga Moana and Waikato. “Minister Andrew Little has previously said that he will follow what Supreme Court rules, and we hope that he stands by his words,” Mr Blair says.

“It’s been extremely disappointing that the Crown has ignored tikanga in its proposed settlements and that the leaders of Hauraki iwi refused to participate in a tikanga-based approach to resolve these issues.

“We would encourage the Minister and the leaders of Marutūāhu to come back to the table and kōrero with us,” he says.

“We want settlements to be mana enhancing and enduring, and tikanga is the way to achieve this.”


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