8 Apr 2019

Ngāi Te Rangi presses claim to Tauranga Harbour at urgent Waitangi Tribunal inquiry

7:03 pm on 8 April 2019

Ngāi Te Rangi iwi warn they will continue to advocate for their land rights, even after an Urgent Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry, if changes are not made to a controversial treaty settlement involving 12 iwi.

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Ngāi Te Rangi chair Charlie Tawhiao says the iwi will continue to fight for the iwi's Photo: RNZ / Justine Murray

The Pare Hauraki settlement dealt with claims from 12 iwi from North Auckland to Coromandel, who were subjected to some of the worst treaty breaches in history.

However, neighbouring iwi who were not part of the settlement argue it granted rights and land situated within their own boundaries.

The week-long inquiry which began today at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt will hear from five of those neighbouring iwi - Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngāti Ranginui and Waikato-Tainui - as well as one of the iwi included in the settlement, Ngāti Porou ki Hauraki.

Ngāi Te Rangi argued the rights to Tauranga Harbour falls within their tribal bounds and was one of the first two iwi to speak on the first day of the inquiry.

Its chair, Charlie Tawhiao, underwent several hours of questioning at the inquiry today, and said his iwi was up against two formidable opponents: the Crown, and Hauraki lawyer Paul Majurey.

"They're very capable leaders, so it's been gruelling and also hard not to be aware of the responsibility of getting it right," he said.

He stressed the iwi was taking on the Crown rather than the Hauraki collective.

"We will be looking to continue this discussion with Hauraki post the settlement process because they're our neighbours, their our relations," he said.

He said there was a responsibility to repair the damage they have done to each other, but first iwi would need to get trough the crown's process.

There was still a sense among the people that what's right would prevail, he said, but if nothing changed following the inquiry they would continue to fight.

"We remain opposed to this and we're obliged to continue to resist any attempt to undermine our mana," he said.

"The real question that's starting to form in my mind is how did this matter get to this point?," he said.