Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Supreme Court on Crown’s obligations to Maori landowners

Supreme Court decision on Crown’s obligations to Maori owners of customary land –
Proprietors of Wakatu & Rore Stafford v Attorney-­General

The Supreme Court has determined that the Crown owed fiduciary duties to the owners of Maori customary land in Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay. It is the first time that the New Zealand Courts have made such a determination. The decision was made by majority; 4 -­1.

The case goes back to the early days of colonial New Zealand when the settlement of Nelson (Whakatu) was being established.

The New Zealand Company purchased land from the Maori landowners on the terms that one tenth of the land area of the Nelson settlement would be set aside in trust for Maori landowners and their descendants and that pa, burial sites and cultivation areas would be excluded from the sale. The trust was called the Nelson Tenths’ Trust. The Tenths’ Owners claimed that the Crown took over the role of trustee of this estate in 1840 and was legally obliged to fulfill the terms of the sale agreement.

The eventual Nelson settlement was for 151,000 acres, of which one tenth was to be reserved for the Maori landowners. However, the Crown only ever reserved 5,100 acres, significantly less than the agreed amount, and in later years this was diminished further. By 1977 the estate was just 1,626 acres.

The Supreme Court accepted that the Crown never set aside in trust the additional acres required under the initial purchase agreement. It found that the Crown had a legal duty to ensure this occurred because it was acting as trustee.

Chief Justice Sian Elias stated: ‘There is overwhelming evidence on the historical record that the Crown throughout intended to and did deal with the reserve land as a trustee.’ The Crown argued that at all times it was acting in its political capacity, rather than as trustee and therefore no legal duties applied. The Supreme Court rejected this argument because in this case ‘pre-­existing and independent property interests of Maori’ existed and those pre-­existing rights had been recognised by the Crown.

The Court has referred back to the High Court the question of determining the extent of the losses the Maori landowners suffered as a result of the Crown’s actions.

Kaumatua Rore Stafford, whose standing to bring the claim as a rangatira was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court, described this is an emotional day. ‘The take (issue) about our whenua has been kept alive by our tupuna and our uri (descendants) for generations. This is the beginning of the next phase of our journey and we are delighted with the result.’


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Legal Issues: Gordon Campbell On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

Yesterday’s interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public.

Apoparently, the fuel industry is an oligopoly where the Big Three (BP, Mobil and Z) that import 90% of this country’s fuel also control the supply, pricing, profit margins etc etc, from wharf to petrol pump, thereby all but throttling genuine competition at every stage along the way. More>>


Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>


Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>


Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>


Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>


Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>


School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>


IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>


Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>

PM's Post-Cab: Bad Mail

Cabinet was updated on the process around prisoners sending mail, following the accused Christchurch gunman sending letters that "should have been stopped". All mail of "high concern prisoners" will now be checked by a specialist team and a changes to the legal criteria for witholding mail are expecting to go to a cabinet committee in this parliamentary session. More>>




InfoPages News Channels