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3 September 2007
The Waitangi Tribunal today released its second preliminary report on Te Tau Ihu customary rights (Wai 785). The first preliminary report discussed customary rights in the Northern South Island (Te Tau Ihu) district. This second report considers rights to the south of this, in the area defined by Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996 as the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.
Both reports followed an inquiry into the claims of Te Tau Ihu Māori who state that they have been adversely affected by the Crown’s treatment of their customary rights. The Tribunal panel comprises Judge Wilson Isaac (presiding officer), Rangitihi Tahuparae, John Clarke, Professor Keith Sorrenson and Pam Ringwood.
Six Te Tau Ihu iwi - Rangitāne, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama, Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Toa - advanced claims with respect to the Ngāi Tahu takiwā. The Tribunal found that when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 they had valid customary rights that overlapped the acknowledged rights of Ngāi Tahu in various parts of the takiwā.
The customary rights of Te Tau Ihu iwi were protected and guaranteed by the Treaty. The Tribunal found that the Crown acquired these lands and resources in violation of their rights. The Crown extinguished all customary rights in the northern part of the Ngāi Tahu takiwā through a series of acquisitions, which including the 1847 Wairau purchase, the Waipounamu transaction of 1853-1856, the 1859 Arahura purchase and the 1860 Kaikoura purchase. In all these purchases, the Crown failed to fully inquire into or consider the interests of Te Tau Ihu iwi. The Crown obtained the interests of Te Tau Ihu iwi without their free and full consent. The Tribunal found that this was in plain breach of the Treaty.
The Tribunal also found that the Crown has failed adequately to consider the interests and rights of Te Tau Ihu iwi in its dealings with South Island Māori since 1990. The Crown has dealt exclusively with Ngāi Tahu within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā on the basis of the Māori Appellate Court’s 1990 decision that Ngāi Tahu had sole rights of ownership in Kaikoura and Arahura at the time of the Crown purchases.
The Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 confirmed the boundaries of the takiwā that were defined by Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996. The Tribunal found that the Crown had incorrectly interpreted this legislation to mean that Ngāi Tahu had exclusive rights in the takiwā. The Crown ignored Te Tau Ihu iwi interests during the negotiation and settlement of the Ngāi Tahu claim. Assets that could potentially have been included in any future settlement with Te Tau Ihu iwi were vested in the sole ownership of Ngāi Tahu. This exclusive treatment has continued since the settlement, to the detriment of Te Tau Ihu iwi.
The Tribunal is providing its findings on customary rights and their treatment by the Crown separately in order to assist the claimants and the Crown in their current negotiations for a settlement of Te Tau Ihu iwi claims.