NGĀTIWAI EMBRACE TIKANGA MĀORI IN DEALING WITH OVERLAPPING CLAIMS
Successful hui held with Ngāti Hako and Ngāti Paoa
Last month the Board facilitated two initial hui with Ngāti Hako and Ngāti Paoa from Hauraki to begin a process for resolving overlapping claims with them. Both of these hui went extremely well under the guidance of the Marae taumata who maintained a respectful exchange of views and facilitated agreed outcomes to be revisited at further hui yet to be arranged.
Lessons learnt from Ngai Tai ki Tamaki overlapping claims engagement
In mid-July 2017, the Board met with Ngai Tai ki Tamaki to discuss overlapping claims. Shortly after, the Board provided a written submission to the Office of Treaty Settlements objecting to the proposed redress. The Crown then introduced the Ngai Tai ki Tamaki settlement legislation into the house for its first reading. The Board then made further submissions to the Maori Affairs Select committee and in late March 2018, the Committee reported back to the house. The Committee said:
“Based on advice we have received from the Office of Treaty Settlements, we do not recommend any changes to the bill on this matter. Any agreements to amend the protocol areas could be implemented without an amendment to the bill.”
In early-April 2018, the Board made an urgent request for direct reengagement with Ngai Tai ki Tamaki to discuss overlapping claims. The response was that they would be overseas and would not be able to respond until June or July 2018 – approximately three to four (3-4) months later. It is clear to the Board that leaving unresolved matters until after settlements have been finalised provides no incentive for these groups to come to the ‘table’ to resolve these matters in earnest.
Why is it important to have a tikanga Māori process?
Hui on the Marae is not only our natural way, it provides a far more transparent and robust way for resolving claims concerning mana whenua, mana moana and appropriate redress because you cannot hide from scrutiny on the Marae.
The Crown’s process on the other hand involves writing submissions to the Office of Treaty Settlements and puts the Crown in between iwi and in the position of decision-maker over Māori matters. It allows those groups who refuse to engage to hide behind the Crown’s flawed policy and exploit other iwi by not fronting their claims with the people most affected by them.
What is the new Labour Government and Minister for Treaty negotiations doing about it?
In July 2017, the Board filed an urgent hearing application in the Waitangi Tribunal along with nine other claimant groups objecting to the Crown’s overlapping claims policy. The application also objected to the redress provided to Hauraki iwi under this policy within the Ngātiwai rohe. Despite the application, the new Government and Minister Little continue with the Crown’s overlapping claims policy unchanged and without any requirement that overlapping groups come together to discuss and resolve disputed redress.
The Crown are also aware of the growing concern among iwi Māori including Tauranga Moana who raised an army and marched on Parliament last month in protest and Ōrākei who have taken a case to the supreme court in addition to the Tribunal.
The Minister appeared in Māori news media, to defend the Crown’s current policy by saying it is not the Crown’s place to ‘interfere with tikanga’. Yet the Minister has put all objecting iwi on notice that he intends to sign-off on the contentious Pare Hauraki settlement. Ironically the Minister appears to be ‘blind’ to the fact that to sign off without any genuine efforts to resolve overlapping claims in a tikanga Māori way with Ngātiwai would be ‘interfering with tikanga’ as it would undermine the tikanga process by removing any incentive for Hauraki groups to come to the ‘table’.
Who is not coming to the table to talk with Ngātiwai?
There are three iwi and two collectives in particular who have never responded at all to the Board’s request for hui. They are:
- Ngāti Maru
- Ngai Tamatera
- The Hauraki collective
- The Marutuahu collective
- Ngāti Whānaunga did respond at one point but then cancelled the hui at the last minute due to ill health but never followed up.
While we appreciate that these iwi or collectives may well have been in negotiations for some time we implore them to come forward and do the right thing.
Board Chairman, Haydn Edmonds says, “There are only three iwi from Hauraki that have engaged with us to date, and we need to have the same kōrero with the other iwi that make up these collectives. It is crucial that these hui are allowed to happen under tikanga Māori, before any Settlements are signed off by the Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little. We have a long history with many but not all of these iwi of Hauraki, and our recent hui with Ngāti Hako and Ngāti Paoa has re-affirmed that. We accept that there may be some historical interests that they have, however those interests must be determined through a tikanga process, and not a Crown process. Our position is simple and requires any redress offered must not erode the mana whenua and mana moana of Ngātiwai within our rohe.”