Tribunal claims wiped in Treaty settlement process
Tribunal claims wiped in Treaty settlement process – Maori Party
Te Ururoa Flavell, Treaty claims spokesperson
23 September 2008
Maori Party MP for Te Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell, says long-standing Waitangi Tribunal claims have been wiped by the Crown without the knowledge or agreement of the claimant.
Speaking to the Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill in Parliament tonight, Mr Flavell said the Maori Party supported the Bill, but was extremely concerned to learn that during the settlement process, the Crown had extinguished a number of Waitangi Tribunal claims without either claimant knowledge or consent.
“How can it be that the Crown can extinguish WAI claims through the settlement process without the express knowledge and permission of the specific claimants?” he asked.
He said claims on behalf of hapu with major forestry interests have been wiped, because the hapu has been included in the settlement, despite the protests of the claimants.
“It just seems so unjust to me. Surely the person who placed a claim in front of the Waitangi Tribunal has a right to be formally advised that his or her claim is being settled and to seek their buy in, since they have been the ones who have given time and energy in the pursuit of a settlement of a grievance.”
Mr Flavell outlined two cases where hapu have been bundled together under the Crown’s policy of negotiating only with ‘large natural groupings’ of hapu and iwi, and then the majority of the large natural grouping has usurped the mana whenua rights of the smaller group.
“There are two to three Tribunal reports instructing the Crown to deal with the uncoupling of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa. The focus from Te Runanga o Ngati Whaoa was that such a move would reflect the separate status of each group more accurately,” he said. However Crown officials had opposed the change.
“The coupling concern was also raised in relation to Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao by Te Maru o Ngati Wahiao,” he said. “Again I would have to say that the advice from officials did not inspire confidence. The comment provided from the Office of Treaty Settlements was that this was a relatively new issue, and that the coupling of Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao was well established and accepted by the Crown.
Mr Flavell introduced a Supplementary Order Paper to amend the Bill, to give effect to the wishes of the iwi and hapu involved, but the changes were ruled out of order.
“Injustices like these will fester for generations, and undermine the value and durability of a very large and complex settlement that is overwhelmingly positive for the iwi from Taupo to the Bay of Plenty. It is just so important to get things right – so the settlement of one injustice does not create a new injustice,” said Mr Flavell.