Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu Land Claims Portfolio
Report for May 2018
1. Waitangi Tribunal judicial review
2. National Iwi Chairs Forum hui 2-4 May
• The application to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations is on hold awaiting the outcome of a review by the High Court.
• National Iwi Chairs Forum met in Whanganui from 2nd to 4th May.
1. Waitangi Tribunal judicial review
The application to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations is on hold awaiting the outcome of a review by the High Court. The review will consider the Tribunal’s decision to disregard our application for it make binding recommendations and instead, deciding to conduct a new inquiry into Ngāti Kahu’s claims – even though the Tribunal upheld our claims to 1865 in 1997 and undertook at that time to make binding recommendations to recover our lands for us. Now, under pressure from the Crown, the Tribunal is trying to backtrack. The Court of Appeal ordered the Tribunal to make binding recommendations in December 2016. The High Court will review the Tribunal’s refusal to carry out that order.
The High Court application has now been filed and copies have gone to the Tribunal and to the Crown. The first call for this matter has been scheduled for 11 June when the process for the hearing will be decided. This will include the timing of the hearing.
2. National Iwi Chairs Forum meeting 2-4 May
National Iwi Chairs Forum took place in Whanganui. Anthony and I were accompanied by Ānahera Herbert-Graves, Hōhepa Rāmeka, Bardia Matiu and Ani Mānuera. On the first day a workshop was held on the form and function of the governance group (renamed the coordinating group) of the Forum. On the second day, there were guest speakers and the reports from the various working groups (Iwi Leaders’ Groups) were discussed. On the third day Kelvin Davis visited briefly in his role as minister of Māori-Crown relationships after which the forum debriefed.
The guest speakers were the kaitiaki of Whanganui river who were recognized as part of the river treaty claims settlement. They explained the settlement and their role. The other speaker was the Children’s Commission who highlighted to good possibilities available under the new Oranga Tamariki legislation but spoke about the extensive and damaging effects of racism and bureaucratic unwillingness to deliver on legislation that would prevent it. He noted that the damning 1990s report on the Department of Social Welfare, Te Puao Te Atatū, is still relevant and its recommendations have yet to be implemented.
The report of Matike Mai Aotearoa and the Monitoring Mechanism (Te Pou Tikanga) created considerable interest and discussion. As reported last month, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights made very strong recommendations to the New Zealand government about the need to discuss constitutional transformation with Māori and to support the Monitoring Mechanism. It is the first time I have seen such extended and constructive discussion on these matters in the Forum.
Matike Mai Aotearoa offered to develop a framework for discussions with the Crown based on constitutional transformation aimed at resetting the relationship to one based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and international obligations. The Forum accepted it, but Kelvin Davis as the Crown ignored the offer. The alternative put to him was that the Forum would consider its options to ensure that the Crown did meet its obligations to iwi/Māori.
Ngāti Kahu contributed to the Monitoring Mechanism’s 4th report on Government’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for delivery to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Issues at its meeting in Geneva in July.
A well-attended hui facilitated by the Human Rights Commission was held at the Rūnanga’s office on 27 April where we provided input to the section on constitutional transformation. Other iwi are contributing to other sections of the report. The report will be available next month.
The treaty claims settlement process continues to cause major problems with Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei now in the Supreme Court over the Crown selling lands in their core territories to other iwi as part of treaty claims settlements. A number of iwi subsequently protested at parliament about the process. They are trying to engage with the new Minister to have the policy changed.
The reports from the environmental working groups of the Forum, Te Pou Taiao, focused on fresh water and climate change. The government appears to be refusing to discuss Māori ownership/rights and interests in water with Māori. The Forum indicated that it is considering legal action to protect Māori ownership of water and to stop the government nationalizing fresh water. On climate change, work is being done to enable locally driven responses by mana whenua to develop resilience and capacity to deal with the effects of climate change. Support will be given to a legislative framework that reduces greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and to the cessation of fossil fuel production along with effective investment in renewable energy that is equitable and iwi-led.
The reports from the working groups dealing with social issues indicated that the government has yet to meet with the Forum group about Whānau Ora and this is causing considerable concern. There was complete opposition to the building of a $1 billion prison. Kelvin Davis was told the $1b would be far better spent building the skills and capacity of Māori as envisaged in the Whānau Ora programme. There was also strong support for charter schools which the government is now reducing to special character schools and bringing them under the control of the Ministry of Education, thus removing their effectiveness.
The economic development groups, Pou Tahua, continue to focusing on Māori being able to use Māori land, acquiring housing for our people, establishing trade relations with indigenous peoples internationally, specifically in Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates. They are also working on the Tax Review working party.
Professor Margaret Mutu
21 May 2018