23 Aug 2013

Ngapuhi claimants lack money for expert witnesses

6:35 am on 23 August 2013

Ngapuhi claimants are finding there's no money for expert witnesses as they prepare to take historic grievances to the Waitangi Tribunal.

The Crown Forestry Rental Trust, which usually funds research for Treaty claims, is paralysed by an internal dispute, and has made no payments for the Tribunal's hearings on the northern land claims.

A lead lawyer for the claimants, Moana Tuwhare, said the hearings have been able to go ahead only because the Crown paid for the first four weeks.

But beyond that there's no funding guaranteed for the remaining 17 weeks of hearings.

Ms Tuwhare said that meant claimants have no money to contract historians to summarise their research for the Tribunal.

She said even if funding does eventually come through, the expert evidence won't be ready in time to be heard at the same time as hapu evidence.

The Crown Forestry Rental Trust says its internal legal dispute is now holding up funding for claimants in other parts of the North Island, as well as Ngapuhi.