17 Jun 2013

Solictor supports arbitration for Maori land disputes

7:30 pm on 17 June 2013

Arbitration to settle long-standing customary disagreements between tribes is being touted as a solution for iwi locked in land disputes.

An arbitration panel recently dealt with claims to mana whenua rights of Rotorua land by three iwi: Ngati Wahiao, Tuhourangi and Ngati Whakaue.

It was judged that Tuhourangi Tribal Authority is not an owner in three reserves, including Whakarewarewa Thermal Springs Reserve.

Solicitor Donna Hall represented one of the tribes in that case - Ngati Wahiao.

She says the use of arbitration could be attractive to other iwi and she knows of other groups who will be looking for solutions.

She says in her case, arbitration sponsored by the Minister of Maori Affairs and chaired by a former Supreme Court judge, Bill Wilson QC.

Ms Hall says arbitration could be used by eight central North Island iwi who are struggling to agree on how to share forestry blocks among themselves.