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Waitangi Tribunal Recommends That The Wairarapa Settlement Does Not Go Ahead

On 29 October 2021, the Crown and the Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua Settlement Trust signed a Deed of Settlement which included the Wai 429 claim of Ngāi Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi hapū without support or consent. The settlement also includes as commercial redress Ngāumu Crown Forest Lands over which Ngāi Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi claim mana whenua, and which are currently subject to an application for resumption under s 8HB of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975.

The Waitangi Tribunal agreed to hear the claim under extreme urgency together with claims made by the Wairarapa ki Pouākani Incorporation and the Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust. A hearing was held on 11 and 12 November 2021, and on 18 November 2021 the Waitangi Tribunal released its decision in favour of the claimants:

  • It found that the Treaty settlement process was unfair, will exacerbate divisions in the claimant community, and will not be durable.
  • It found further that the Settlement Trust had no mandate to enter into settlement with the Crown concerning the interests of Ngāi Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi and the Wairarapa Moana ki Pouākani Incorporation in Ngāumu Forest (Wai 429) and land at Pouākani (Wai 85).
  • Its primary and strong recommendation is that the proposed settlement with Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua does not proceed at this stage. The litigation that is to go before the Supreme Court in February should be allowed to take its course.
  • The Tribunal commented that in the interim, the Crown should support the Settlement Trust to engage in processes to renew its mandate to settle the claims in the district, and should support all the parties that appeared before the Tribunal to commit to a process to resolve their conflicts. This may take time, but the investment will be worthwhile to uphold the mana of all, restore relationships, and come finally to reconciliation with the Crown.

This is a great result for the claimants, including Ngāi Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi who continue to assert their tino rangatiratanga as guaranteed under te Tiriti o Waitangi. It is now time for the Crown to heed the recommendations of the Tribunal and uphold its te Tiriti obligations to the hapu and whanau impacted by the Crown’s actions. 

Jess Jenkins, a 14th generation descendant of Tūmapūhia has launched a Petition for Just consideration for Ngāi Tūmapūhia-a-Rangi. Just last week, Jess presented the APEC Youth Declaration to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

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