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Govt Response Waitangi Tribunal's Petroleum Report

Government response to Waitangi Tribunal's Petroleum Report

The Government has confirmed its view that publicly owned petroleum assets are not available for use in settling Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Responding to The Petroleum Report issued by the Waitangi Tribunal in May this year, the Government has determined that it does not agree with key elements of the Tribunal's findings and will not act on its recommendations.

Maori had legal title to the petroleum in their land before petroleum rights were nationalised under the Petroleum Act 1937.

The Tribunal found that Maori had a "Treaty interest" in petroleum arising from the loss of their land before 1937 by means that breached Treaty principles and from the expropriation under the Petroleum Act without compensation or provision for ongoing royalty payments.

The Tribunal found it was a breach of Treaty principles for the Crown to exclude petroleum from claim settlements. It recommended that the Crown's royalties and its 11 percent ownership stake in the Kupe gas field should be available for inclusion in settlements.

Officials advised the Government that they did not consider the concept of a "Treaty interest" persuasive. They advised that Crown policy and legislation regarding petroleum were a valid exercise of the Crown's Treaty rights in 1937 and remain so.

The Government also noted that the Tribunal doubted that petroleum was a taonga in terms of the Treaty and the Tribunal did not seek to develop the notion that Maori have a development right in relation to petroleum.

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