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New Members for the Waitangi Tribunal

20 September 2001 Media Statement

New Members for the Waitangi Tribunal
Mäori Affairs Minister Hon Parekura Horomia announced the appointment of a highly experienced public service chief executive and a Christchurch historian to the Waitangi Tribunal today.
Dame Margaret Bazley and Dr Ann Parsonson are new appointments to the Tribunal, while current members Professor Wharehuia Milroy and the Hon Dr Michael Bassett have been reappointed. All appointments are for a three-year term.
‘I am delighted to be able to appoint people of this calibre to the Waitangi Tribunal. Dame Margaret brings her extensive and wide-ranging knowledge of the machinery of government to the Tribunal, while Dr Parsonson's research and analytical skills will be invaluable as members hear and consider historical and contemporary claims and evidence," said Mr Horomia.
Dame Margaret was acting as Chief Executive of the Department of Work and Income until the end of this month (Sept 2001). She has also held senior management positions in the Ministry of Social Policy, the Fire Service Commission and the State Services Commission. In recognition of her efforts, Dame Margaret was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1999.
Dr Ann Parsonson, an experienced and reputable historian, is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Canterbury and a Senior Fellow in the School of Mäori and Pacific Development at the University of Waikato.
The Minister of Mäori Affairs thanked the outgoing Tribunal members Pamela Ringwood and Josephine Anderson.
"Ms Ringwood has been a tribunal member since 1993 and she continues to serve on the Wai 262 Flora and Fauna and the Northern South Island inquiries. Ms Anderson has completed one term. During that time, their commitment to the work of the Tribunal has been outstanding, and their influence will continue to be felt’, said Mr Horomia.

BACKGROUNDER
What is the Tribunal?
The Waitangi Tribunal is a commission of inquiry established to inquire into and report on claims against the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Who makes up the Tribunal?
The Tribunal has 16 members plus a Chairperson and Deputy Chairman. Roughly half the members are Maori, and half are Pakeha. Members are appointed on the recommendation of the Minister of Maori Affairs, after consultation with the Minister of Justice. Maori Land Court Judges can preside in Waitangi Tribunal inquiries.

The current members are Justice E T J Durie (Chair), Chief Judge Joe Williams (Deputy Chairman), John Baird, Hon Dr Michael Bassett, Dame Margaret Bazley, John Clarke, Brian Corban, Judge R R Kearney, Areta Koopu, Roger Maaka, Wharehuia Milroy, Joanne Morris, Dr Ann Parsonson and Dr Pita Sharples, Professor Keith Sorrenson, Rangitihi Tahuparae, Keita Walker, Dame Augusta Wallace.

Deputy Chief Judge Wilson Isaac and Judge Carrie Wainwright are currently presiding over inquiries. Some former Tribunal members, whose warrants have expired, continue in office until proceeding they are hearing are completed.

What does the Tribunal do?
The Tribunal can examine any claim by Maori people that they have been prejudiced by laws and regulations, or by acts, omissions, policies or practices of the government since 1840 that are inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty.
It makes findings on whether, and how, the principles of the Treaty have been breached. It may then recommend what could be done to compensate the
claimants or to remove the harm they are suffering. These recommendations must be practical.

Who can make claims to the Tribunal?
Claimants must be Maori. Claims must be brought by an individual or individuals who in turn may claim on behalf of a group.

What are the claims about?
Claims can only be made against legislation or the Crown - not against private individuals. They can be historical - for instance, where people claim compensation for confiscated land, or contemporary - for instance, where claimants say current government policy is in breach of Treaty principles.

Does the Tribunal hear claims about private land?
Yes, but generally the Tribunal cannot recommend that private land be used for the settlement of claims.

How are claims settled?
Generally, the Tribunal is not involved in settling claims. A settlement normally arises out of negotiations between the Crown and claimants. If the Tribunal has inquired into and reported on a claim, its findings and any recommendations
provide a platform on which negotiations can proceed. However, it is also open to claimants and the Crown to enter direct negotiations without a Tribunal report.

Does the Government have to do what the Tribunal recommends?
In most cases, the Tribunal's recommendations are not binding. However, certain former Crown lands have a "Treaty of Waitangi Memorial" on their certificate of title and the Tribunal can make a binding decision that those lands be returned to Maori ownership. Where this happens, the landowner receives compensation under the Public Works Act.

The most common type of land affected by such memorials is land that the Crown has transferred to state-owned enterprises. The memorial remains on the title even if the land is subsequently sold to a private owner. The Tribunal can also make binding decisions in respect of Crown forest land.

Where are Tribunal hearings held?
The Tribunal can hold hearings anywhere. Often they are on marae, but they may also be in public halls, schools, courtrooms or conference rooms. As a commission of inquiry, the Tribunal has the power to adopt flexible procedures.

Who can go to hearings?
Tribunal hearings are open to the public so anyone can go along.

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