Treaty Settlements Questions and Answers
4 August 2005
Cut-off dates for lodging and settling historical claims
Labour policy requires all historical claims to be lodged by 1 September 2008 so that we can proceed to settle all claims by 2020.
Why are cut off dates needed?
Since coming to government, Labour has been working on initiatives to streamline the Treaty settlement process. Setting deadlines is another step in the process to complete historical Treaty settlements. This will enable all those who settle to enjoy the economic and other benefits which flow from settlement.
In 1985 the Waitangi Tribunal’s jurisdiction was extended to include historical treaty claims. Claimant groups have now had twenty years to file historical claims. It is timely and appropriate to bring to a close the time for lodging claims so that the settlement process can be concluded.
Labour has never been committed to open-ended timeframes for lodging and settling historical claims. Like most New Zealanders, both Mäori and Päkehä, we feel enough time has elapsed since the Tribunal began accepting historical claims and it is time to move on and complete them as soon as possible.
What is the timeframe for implementing this policy?
All historical claims must be lodged by 1 September 2008.
Why 2020 for settlement – that is still 15 years away? This is a realistic framework. The issues are complex and take time to resolve. We want settlements to be both fair and durable.
Are many more historical claims likely to be lodged? Claims for historical breaches of the Treaty have been able to be lodged for the last 20 years. It is likely that most of the substantive claims are already lodged.
How will this policy affect claimants?
The issue now is not about filing claims, but about groups achieving mandated representation, and coming together into sufficiently large groups for negotiation. This announcement reinforces the need for Mäori groups to come together to proceed with negotiations.
How many settlements are there still to go?
We expect to reach a further 40 – 50 settlements.
Will more resources be put into the Tribunal to cope with their backlog and a potential flood of claims? Most substantive claims are already filed and it is unlikely that there will be a large number of new, substantive, claims. The Tribunal will be resourced to meet the date for concluding the settlement process by 2020.
What happens if a group discovers a breach of the Treaty after the cut-off date?
Given historical claims related to wrongs committed between 1840 and 1992, it is highly unlikely that there will be fresh historical claims discovered after 1 September 2008 when the formal process for lodging claims ends. If exceptional cases emerged after that date, then the government of the day would have to determine whether it deals with them on a case-by-case basis.
What about those who are unable to settle by 2020?
We are committed to working with Mäori to make sure claims can be settled by 2020 and will resource the process accordingly. Our policy is not about preventing the settling of legitimate grievances but about working to settle them in a reasonable timeframe so that those who settle to enjoy the economic and other benefits which flow from settlement.