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Wakatū Inc. seeks response from the Crown in land case

After success in the Supreme Court in February 2017, Wakatū Incorporation, a Nelson-based Māori-owned organisation, says the Crown is taking too long to enter into genuine discussions to resolve its case.

The Supreme Court case, which was taken by kaumātua and Wakatū board member Rore Stafford, and Wakatū Incorporation on behalf of its owners, the families of Wakatū, dates back to the settlement of Nelson in the mid-1840s.

At that time, the Nelson settlement was established by the New Zealand Company and the Crown on the condition that the Nelson Tenths’ Reserves Trust would be created for the benefit of the Māori land owners, and all papakāinga, cultivation and wāhi tapu lands in Nelson and Tasman would be protected from settlement.

Significant areas of land in Nelson and Tasman were never reserved by the Crown or were removed from the Nelson Tenths’ Reserves Estate between 1845 and 1977.

The Supreme Court held that the Crown owed a duty to reserve and protect 15,100 acres of land for the Māori land owners as well as their papakāinga, cultivation and wāhi tapu lands. The Crown acknowledged before the Supreme Court that it had failed to reserve 10,000 acres of that land.

The Supreme Court directed the matter back to the High Court to determine issues of breach and remedy. ‘Our preference is to agree an out of court settlement, rather than engage in more litigation. We want to sit down with the Attorney-General and agree the principles and parameters to ensure a positive resolution - it’s been over two years now since we received the Supreme Court’s decision,’ says Kerensa
Johnston, Wakatū CEO.

As the kaumātua who is leading the case, Rore Stafford says, ‘I see it as a simple kaupapa, just give our land back.’

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