Claimants want Children's Minister to front up kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face)

3:46 pm on 25 April 2024

Annette Sykes.

Annette Sykes has lodged an appeal against the High Court decision which blocked a Waitangi Tribunal summons Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

Waitangi Tribunal claimants will appeal a High Court decision to overturn a summons order from the Tribunal for Children's Minister Karen Chhour.

The appeal was lodged by Treaty lawyer Annette Sykes, representing Ngāti Te Rangiunuora, shortly after the High Court made its decision to set aside the summons issued by the Tribunal.

The minister was due to give evidence to the Tribunal on Friday regarding the government's plans to repeal section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act, which binds Oranga Tamariki to improve outcomes for tamariki Māori and demonstrate adherence to Treaty principles.

Crown lawyers filed papers with the High Court late last week in a bid to block the order, arguing the Tribunal acted in an unlawful and coercive manner despite having the authority to summons the minister.

Speaking to RNZ, Sykes said although the decision was made to 'set aside' the summons and grant the crown application for a judicial review, there were some key wins for the respondents involved.

She said the court did not uphold crown allegations that the Tribunal was acting unlawfully and the minister's ongoing refusal to provide information was a major contributor to the entire dilemma.

"Kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) is important in tikanga Māori, if you are going to stand up for what you say is correct, you do that with mana, with respect and face to face. That's what's driving our clients to ask for the minister to come and make those explanations to the tribunal."

Sykes said the minister's refusal to engage and provide information could end up working against her.

"The rule of law requires us to respect the law, whether we are rich or poor, black or white, Māori or Pākeha, whether you are an MP or someone who works on a rubbish truck. One of those things is when you have information in your personal knowledge you bring that out, under the rule of law."

Other lawyers representing claimants involved have confirmed the decision to file an appeal.

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