A substantial funding increase for the Tribunal
Friday 18 May 2007
Budget 2007: A substantial funding increase for the Waitangi Tribunal
Darrin Sykes, the Director of the Waitangi Tribunal, today welcomed the budget announcement that the Government is putting a further $7.664 million into the Waitangi Tribunal over the next four years.
“This extra funding will raise the Tribunal’s annual funding by 30% in a full year”, Mr Sykes said. “Together with previous budget allocations, the funding increases the Tribunal’s annual budget by $3.196 million a year compared to 2001/02 – a rise of 62%”.
“I believe that we will now have sufficient resources to achieve the objective stated by our Chairperson, Chief Judge Joe Williams, [“The Waitangi Tribunal and the settlement of historical Treaty claims, December 2005”: http://www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/about/thewaitangitribunalandthesettlementofhistoricaltreatyclaims.asp] of completing all Tribunal inquiries into historical claims by 2015”, Mr Sykes said. “This outcome will contribute towards achieving the Government’s target of 2020 for settling all historical Treaty claims”.
“The Tribunal has been making very good progress. In recent years the time taken to complete major district inquiries into historical and contemporary claims has halved. Tribunal reports issued to date cover more than 60 percent of New Zealand’s land area, and we currently have 16 districts under inquiry from Northland to the top of the South Island. Claimants in the remaining districts will now not have long to wait if they wish to have a Tribunal inquiry”, Mr Sykes said.
The new funding provides extra resources for research on claim issues. This will speed up and strengthen preparation of the evidential base for Tribunal inquiries. It also provides additional report-writing support and member time to assist Tribunal panels in the timely preparation of their reports.
“I am pleased that the funding will enable the Tribunal to hear evidence in both official languages, te reo Māori as well as English. We will now be able to provide full simultaneous interpretation cover for the use of te reo Māori in all hearings and judicial conferences where it is required. Claimants will benefit by being able to give their evidence in the language of their choice”, Mr Sykes said.
The funding will also establish an electronic document and case management system for the more efficient administration of claims lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal. “The Tribunal’s record of inquiry is a nationally significant resource. This system will help to protect it and to make it accessible for present and future generations of New Zealanders”, Mr Sykes said.