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Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to consider going to Supreme Court

4 December 2017

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to consider going to Supreme Court

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust says it is likely to progress a case against the Crown to the Supreme Court following a ruling today from the Court of Appeal.

For the past two years, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has tried to seek clarity on the Crown’s process in negotiating Treaty of Waitangi settlements in Auckland.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesman Ngarimu Blair says the hapū is disappointed with the Court’s ruling but was always prepared to go as far as is needed to test its case.

“This may be a long and intense process, but we believe it is crucial to clarify the Government’s approach to settling overlapping Treaty claims,” says Mr Blair.

“The current approach to overlapping claims is a fundamental breach of tikanga and of our Treaty rights, and as a Trust, we have a duty to protect the interests and mana of our people.

“We reject the myth of recent years that there are 19 or more iwi in central Auckland, all with the same rights.

“We should be clear – this is not about who has mana and who doesn’t. It is about our ability to have this matter heard properly. The Court of Appeal says we need to argue our case with Parliament and that’s what we will continue to do.”

In 2015, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei filed papers in the Auckland High Court after becoming aware of the Crown’s proposal to transfer whenua in central Auckland to Ngāti Paoa and the Marutūāhu Collective as part of their respective individual and collective Treaty Settlements.

Mr Blair says that although other iwi acknowledge Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has primary mana whenua interests in central Auckland, the Crown has disregarded those interests.

“Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei recognises Ngāti Paoa’s primary mana whenua interests in the east of Tamaki, just as Ngāti Paoa accepts our place in central Auckland,” says Mr Blair.

“But it is simply not right that the Marutūāhu Collective – which is made up of some iwi from the Hauraki region with no interests in Tāmaki, other than those of Ngāti Paoa – is given land without our approval in central Auckland. They do not hold the mana here.”

Mr Blair says that the Court of Appeal has confirmed that Justice Davison in the High Court was wrong to say that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei agreed to give up their claim to primary mana whenua when they entered into the Tāmaki Collective.

“In fact, the Court of Appeal says very clearly that those findings in the High Court should not have been made and we absolutely agree,” says Mr Blair.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that it will not interfere in Parliament’s business. Mr Blair says he hopes the new Minister and coalition Government will take a more measured view on mana whenua interests when negotiating Treaty settlements.

“The previous Government believed that it wasn’t their job to test who has mana for claims where more than one iwi has a connection to the area. We think that is wrong.

“We want all iwi in Tāmaki to settle with the Crown, however that can’t happen by undermining those who already have a settlement,” says Mr Blair.

A working party on behalf of the Iwi Chairs Forum has been progressing this matter over the past six months. The working party includes Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Tauranga Moana iwi, Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngāti Haua and Ngāti Rehua, who have all have raised concerns about the Marutūāhu Collective settlement.

“It is unfortunate that we have to continue to undertake this battle in the courts, but the kaupapa is just too important – for our hapū and for all iwi,” says Mr Blair.

“Litigation was our last option but Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei believes this will ultimately benefit all iwi who have settled, or will settle, with the Crown.”

In recognition of working together, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Ngāti Paoa will this week sign a conciliation agreement that outlines a way for both iwi to progress, based on tikanga and away from the courts.

The Trust will now begin preparing its application to the Supreme Court. If accepted, the Trust understands that a hearing would likely take place mid to late-2018.


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