14 Apr 2015

Tribunal backs Crown action over ancestral mountains

6:43 am on 14 April 2015

A Waitangi Tribunal report has told Hauraki tribes they should fix internal troubles over their rights to ancestral mountains, because it is not the Crown's role.

New Zealand parliament; beehive

New Zealand parliament. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The recommendation follows an accusation from Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu that the Crown dealt unfairly with conflict within the tribal collective.

The iwi claimed that offering 1000 hectares in both Mt Te Aroha and Moehau to the tribal collective was unfair.

Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu wanted part or all of Mt Te Aroha to be placed in its care because it said it held the mana whenua over the maunga.

It initially supported the idea of the maunga being vested in the collective but later raised concerns when more detail emerged about how the plan would work.

According to the report, other iwi warned they would not support a collective settlement if changes were made to a package.

The report says the Crown did offer Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu additional land at Mt Te Aroha outside the collective offer, but those negotiations have been stalled - partly because of the urgent hearing it filed last year.

Crown action fair - Tribunal

The Tribunal has ruled that the Crown's action to involve all iwi was fair because they all have a connection to the mountain.

Its report says the Hauraki collective settlement is close to being achieved, without Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu.

It urges the collective to recognise Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu rights to Te Aroha in a treaty package.

The report also encourages the tribes to reconcile, and also says Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu must turn and face their whanaunga in the collective and work with them.

The tribunal says neither it nor the Crown are the appropriate legal bodies to resolve the problem.

The report says the matters can be sorted out through tikanga Māori.

The tribunal says independent mediation could help the tribes to focus on core issues in a timely way.