Ngāti Paoa support Supreme Court fight for Mana Whenua
24 May 2018
Ngāti Paoa support Supreme Court fight for Mana Whenua Rights
Ngāti Paoa, the largest Iwi in the Marutūāhu Collective, strongly supports Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s legal challenge currently being heard in the Supreme Court. This is despite Ngāti Paoa being named as a respondent in the Supreme Court case alongside the Crown and Marutūāhu.
Earlier this year, Ngāti Paoa removed itself from the case once it achieved a Tikanga-based agreement with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei that acknowledged each other’s mana whenua rights in Auckland.
Ngāti Paoa has also joined with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in calling for the Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations not to initial the Marutūāhu settlement. Ngāti Paoa is urging the Minister to adopt a robust tikanga process which is recognised by the Crown in negotiations. In addition, Ngāti Paoa has asked that the Crown refrain from progressing any further until the Supreme Court delivers its decision given the impact it will have on the settlement.
“Why rush to initial a settlement when a decision from the Supreme Court is due any moment? The heart of issue and the reason that we have joined Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and other Iwi such as those of Tauranga Moana is that the Crown is not appropriately weighing interests when it is constructing settlements.” says Ngāti Paoa Kaiārahi, Haydn Solomon.
“Iwi have moved all over Aotearoa since the first migrations and as such, we all have interests in many different places. However, the starting point for all Treaty negotiations is what happened, and where were you post-1840, after the Treaty was signed. The Crown must also look at other important factors such as Ahi Ka, Raupatu and breaches of the Treaty that created genuine grievances.” says Mr Solomon.
“On this basis, some Iwi will naturally have much stronger ties to certain areas and deserve mana whenua rights, while others will have only minor or customary interests. What is currently occurring is that Iwi with minor or customary interests are attempting to convert these interests into mana whenua rights through the Crown’s application of its overlapping claims policy” says Mr Solomon.
“When you look at the Supreme Court case and the escalating conflict over the Hauraki Collective settlement, it seems clear that the Crown’s approach is failing. It is instead creating new grievances. The Tikanga process and the Crown giving due weight to it is the way forward. Without it, the legitimacy of current and future settlements are at risk” says Mr Solomon.
“Ngāti Paoa is the largest Iwi in the Marutūāhu Collective. We have the largest claim within the Collective to mana whenua rights in Auckland, and this is why Iwi such as Ngāti Whātua and Waikato/Tainui are happy to recognise Ngāti Paoa as the lead Iwi of the Marutūāhu Collective in Auckland.
“In addition, the Crown has also acknowledged that Ngāti Paoa has a clear majority interest in Auckland based on its own analysis of historical account, Raupatu and loss suffered. In fact, our interests exceed all of the other Iwi in the Collective combined and it is easy to establish Ngati Paoa’s genuine mana whenua rights. Despite this, the draft deed of settlement will see Ngāti Paoa receiving the same share of commercial redress as is being offered by the Crown to the other Iwi in the Collective under a simple 5-way split,” says Mr Solomon.
“Similar to the issues raised by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in their Supreme Court case regarding the Crown’s lack of recognition of mana whenua rights, the Marutūāhu draft settlement gives no recognition at all to Ngāti Paoa’s primary mana whenua rights in Tāmaki” says Mr Solomon.
“Frankly we find ourselves in a shocking and unfair situation. These other Iwi are receiving a far greater share than is justified by any factual or historical basis. To highlight the injustice, Te Patukirikiri - who is actually a hapu of Ngāti Paoa in Auckland with a population of 45 people as at the last census – is set to receive a share of Marutūāhu commercial redress that is equivalent to Ngāti Paoa. Settlements should be based on fairness and equity. How can this possibly be the right result when it is Ngāti Paoa who has suffered and it is Ngāti Paoa lands that have been lost!” says Mr Solomon.
“To-date, the Crown’s response in the Marutūāhu settlement is the same that we are seeing across the country. It is unwilling to get involved in disagreements between Iwi when it comes to the allocation of redress. However, if the Crown signs the settlement, it will be forcing us into an unfair, historically and factually incorrect allocation while trying to wash its hands of the consequences” says Mr Solomon.
“What this also does is grant mana whenua rights to Iwi into areas that they were never ever established at the direct expense of Ngāti Paoa and other Iwi / Hapū in Tāmaki such as Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. Through the Marutūāhu Settlement we thought that we would finally have our whenua returned to us. We cannot sit by and watch this happen and will do everything we can to have our lands restored to us” says Mr Solomon.
Despite this situation, Mr Wilson remains upbeat, “We have a new government and a new Minister trying to come to grips with very complex issues in a short space of time. We are also cognizant of the fact that he has inherited this situation and the same officials who have created it. We are hopeful and confident that Minister Little can bring some bold leadership to the table in addressing this issue. He has an opportunity to deliver a lasting and robust settlement instead of creating fresh grievances.” Said Morehu Wilson, Kaiwhiriwhiri (Negotiator)