Ngāti Kahu succeeds in Overturning Waitangi Tribunal Decision
Ngāti Kahu iwi of Te Hiku o Te Ika (Far North) have succeeded in having the Waitangi Tribunal’s decision not to grant them binding recommendations overturned by the High Court in Wellington. Ngāti Kahu sought binding recommendations from the Tribunal for the compulsory return of Crown forest and State Owned Enterprise lands in their territories. They made the application after the Government refused to negotiate a settlement of their treaty claims that was acceptable to the whānau and hapū of Ngāti Kahu.
The legislation enabling the Tribunal to order the return of land to Māori once claims have been upheld was enacted as the result of court action taken against the Government by the Federation of Māori Authorities and the New Zealand Māori Council in 1988. Successive governments have threatened to reduce the powers of the Tribunal or to abolish it if it ever exercised its powers under this legislation. The Tribunal has only used them once, in 1998, despite having received many applications.
Ngāti Kahu’s success follows a very similar case taken by the Mangatū Incorporation of the East Coast. The High Court overturned the Tribunal’s decision in that case as well. The Government is appealing the High Court’s decision on Mangatū.
Ngāti Kahu have been seeking the return of their lands for over 150 years. They first lodged a claim in the Waitangi Tribunal in 1984. The Tribunal upheld their fisheries claims in 1988 and their land claims up to 1865 in 1997.
Contact: Te Kani Williams (counsel for Ngāti Kahu) 09 3795026
Professor Margaret Mutu (chief negotiator for Ngāti Kahu) 027 241 9650