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Settlement negotiations with Te Arawa



Report on the urgent inquiry into the Crown’s proposed settlement negotiations with Te Arawa

The Waitangi Tribunal today released its Te Arawa Mandate Report on the claims concerning the Crown’s planned settlement negotiations with Te Arawa. In particular, the report addresses the Crown’s decision to recognise the mandate of Nga Kaihautu o Te Arawa Executive Council (the Council) to negotiate the settlement of all Te Arawa historical claims.

The report finds that the Crown failed to carry out a sufficiently active role in monitoring and scrutinising the Te Arawa mandating process, or in assessing the Council’s deed of mandate. The Tribunal’s report concludes that issues of representivity and accountability with respect to the Council have not yet been thoroughly or fully resolved. However, the Tribunal’s report stops short of upholding the claims per se or finding that the Crown acted in breach of the Treaty causing prejudice, since an opportunity remains for matters to be put to right. The Crown itself has indicated that it wants to review the process by which the Council’s mandate was achieved.

The Tribunal has thus suggested a hui be held of Te Arawa iwi and hapu representatives (elected members of the Kaihautu) to debate and vote on issues such as the number of groups to be represented on the Council, the proportionality of seats across the iwi and hapu, and the question of the degree of accountability of the Council to the Kaihautu.

The Tribunal’s report states that not only will the Crown be in breach of the Treaty if it makes an inadequate response to the Tribunal’s suggested course of action, but it will also risk promoting entrenched division within Te Arawa between the Council and its opponents. Leave is granted to the claimants to return to the Tribunal if the Crown’s response is in fact inadequate.

The Tribunal’s report also makes some specific comments about particular iwi and hapu, such as finding that, many years after undertaking to do so, the Crown is now both legally and morally obligated to enter into separate negotiations with Ngati Makino. The Tribunal finds that this should occur at the same time as the negotiations with the rest of Te Arawa, and that, if Ngati Makino agree, Waitaha should be invited to join these negotiations.

Finally, the Tribunal’s report notes that claims such as those concerning the Te Arawa mandate will continue to be heard by the Tribunal from time to time. It thus provides some suggested best practice guidelines which could be used by the Crown and Maori should they wish to develop a Treaty-compliant process for the recognition of mandates to negotiate settlements.


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