14 May 2018

Overlapping Treaty claims send Auckland iwi to Supreme Court

7:21 pm on 14 May 2018

Central Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua Orākei has appeared before the Supreme Court to stop the crown from giving land believed to be within its tribal boundaries to other iwi as part of a collective Treaty settlement.

Ngāti Whātua Orākei Marae.

Ngāti Whātua Orākei Marae. Photo: Supplied.

Last year, the Court of Appeal rejected Ngāti Whātua Orākei Trust's bid to stop the Crown giving Central Auckland properties including Auckland Grammar School and Epsom Girl's Grammar to the Marutūāhu Iwi Collective. It now had another chance to prove why its case should be heard in court.

Ngāti Whātua Orākei ultimately believed the Crown ignored its role as mana whenua when it progressed with the Marutūāhu Collective Settlement deals.

Deputy chairman Ngarimu Blair said it wasn't the first time the Crown had rushed treaty settlements without resolving overlapping claims.

"Across New Zealand, the cross claims issues have been rushed over the last ten years and we want this sorted out so our kids don't have to deal with the hangover of these rushed processes where relationships are frayed," he said.

"These next two days are not only important to Ngāti Whātua Orākei, we're joined in court by Ngāti Kuri and Ngāi Te Rangi and basically every tribe on the border of Pare Hauraki is supporting us because they're experiencing similar issues of overreach by the Hauraki tribes."

More than two buses full of kaumātua, rangatahi and representatives of Ngāti Whātua Orākei travelled to Wellington to show their support.

Tauranga Moana iwi Ngāi Te Rangi are currently involved in an overlapping treaty claim dispute with the Pare Hauraki Iwi Collective over rights to the Tauranga harbour.

Its Chair Charlie Tawhiao said Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Whātua Orākei were fighting the same fight.

"The similar issues we face is the bending of tikanga Māori by crown processes.

"It all comes down to the Waitangi Tribunal making rulings in terms of interests of iwi in different places and the crown has subsequently interpreted those rulings about interests to mean hard rights."

"That approach by the crown, and by some iwi who have exploited that loophole, just blurs out all the nuances of tikanga Māori."

Ngarimu Blair said for four years the Crown had blocked Ngāti Whātua Orākei from accessing the courts to argue its case.

"They've been striking us out in the High Court, the Court of Appeal [and] they're saying we can't even have the argument about tikanga being a part of common law.

"It's disappointing that this government is carrying on like the last one in blocking that access for Māori to the courts, and we know what happened last time with that in 2004."

Ngāti Paoa which is part of the Marutūāhu Collective have since signed an agreement with Ngāti Whātua Orākei to stop litigation between themselves after the Court of Appeal decision.

The Supreme Court hearing continues tomorrow.