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Monday 6 August 2007
The Waitangi Tribunal has today released the remaining parts of its substantial report on Treaty claims in the Central North Island region.
These Parts, 3, 4 and 6 of the report address claims concerning land loss and economic development. The claims relate to a wide area stretching inland from the Bay of Plenty coast to just south of Lake Taupo and including most of the Kaingaroa forest.
To assist claimants and Crown into early settlement negotiations, the Tribunal agreed to focus the first stage of its inquiry on the big picture issues affecting most claimants in the region, and to report with broad findings on these generic issues. The Tribunal heard evidence from over 300 witnesses over a period of nine months during 2005. Some 50 Central North Island iwi and hapū participated.
The Tribunal inquiry panel comprises Judge Caren Fox (Presiding Officer), Dr Ann Parsonson, Mr John Baird and Mrs Gloria Herbert.
The Tribunal upheld the claimants in their fundamental grievances on the central issue of autonomy. Under the Treaty, central North Island Māori were guaranteed their tino rangatiratanga, and the same rights and powers of self-government as settlers. The Tribunal found that the Crown breached the Treaty when it did not accord them those rights and powers.
Part three of the report examines issues concerning land legislation, the operation of the Native Land Court and Crown control of Māori land. The Tribunal found that the introduced land titles regime, Crown purchasing and Crown administration of Māori-owned land had negative impacts on the ability of Māori to utilise their lands and resources effectively, over generations. This was in breach of the Treaty. It found that significant alienation of Māori land also resulted, especially for Māori in the coastal Bay of Plenty and Kaingaroa areas.
In part four of the report the Tribunal concluded that a Treaty right to development exists and imposes obligations on the Crown. The Crown failed to fulfil these, in breach of the Treaty. The Tribunal noted that some Māori in the region had managed to retain a reasonable proportion of their land and that in some cases Crown initiatives had made a positive contribution. However, in general the Tribunal found that other Crown actions or, in some cases, inaction had hindered Māori economic development by limiting their autonomy and restricting their control over their land and resources.
In short, the Tribunal found that many Māori communities in the region lost land and resources through the Crown’s actions, while those who were able to keep their land and resources were often severely hampered in their ability to use them effectively.
While making potentially far-reaching findings on Treaty breach, the Tribunal made no overall recommendations in respect of possible Treaty settlements with the various hapū and iwi, instead leaving it to claimants and the Crown to address these matters in negotiation.