4 Oct 2016

Waitangi Tribunal holds urgent inquiry over Northland's east coast

7:26 pm on 4 October 2016

The Waitangi Tribunal has begun an urgent inquiry into another troubled bid to settle Treaty claims - this time for the Ngātiwai people of Northland's east coast.

Whangaruru ay on Northland's East Coast.

Whangaruru Bay on Northland's east coast Photo: 123RF

The government has agreed to deal directly with the Ngātiwai Trust Board over land grievances from Tapeka Point to Great Barrier Island.

But many claimant groups say the trust board doesn't represent them and doesn't have their consent to settle anything.

Some claims, including those of the Whangarei hapū, are being heard as part of Ngāpuhi claims in the tribunal's ongoing Te Paparahi of Te Raki (Footprints of the North) inquiry.

Huhana Lyndon

Huhana Lyndon Photo: Supplied

Whangaruru claimant Huhana Lyndon said the problems were similar to those of Ngāpuhi's Tuhoronuku mandate, which the tribunal found was seriously flawed.

"The key issues are around consent," she said. "Consent to include hapū, and marae and claims [within the mandate]. We've been highlighting these for several years, and they have not been resolved."

Some hapū had been included in the mandate who should not have been, and some had been excluded, Ms Lyndon said. "This redefining of what Ngātiwai is is one of the primary issues."

Ms Lyndon said the government had not scrutinised the trust board's mandate closely enough before accepting it as valid.

"It's my belief they didn't do enough to make sure we were adequately represented and that our concerns were dealt to in a meaningful way. "

That had prompted her and other claimant groups to ask the tribunal for an urgent inquiry, after the government agreed to recognise the trust board's mandate.

"It's my belief we need to halt the mandate, go back to the drawing board and reconsider the best way and the best vehicle to move us forward."

The Waitangi Tribunal's Ngātiwai inquiry at Whangarei's Toll Stadium, which started today, is set down for three days.