4 Mar 2015

Lawyers round on Tribunal funding

10:53 am on 4 March 2015

A group of lawyers says the Crown shouldn't be in charge of funding the Waitangi Tribunal.

The Waitangi Tribunal

The Waitangi Tribunal Photo: RNZ

The Human Rights Lawyers Association complained of what it called a power imbalance between the Crown and Māori groups.

The lawyers said there was an inherent tension because the Crown must contribute funds to Māori in order to prosecute claims against the Crown.

They said the Crown should take a hands-off approach to paying for the Tribunal's operations.

In a feedback document to the Ministry of Justice, the association said the Waitangi Tribunal and Crown law were under considerable pressure to cut costs.

It claimed the system worked to the detriment of whānau, hapū and iwi, who have suffered prejudice through past actions of the Crown, which now funds their attempts to remove that prejudice.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association made the points in response to the government's draft report on New Zealand's performance under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a United Nations agreement.