Claim Wai 45 was lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal in December 1987 by the Honourable Matiu Rata and concerned the acquisition of land in the Far North.
The Tribunal constituted to hear the claim comprised Chief Judge Eddie Durie (presiding), Bishop Manuhuia Bennett, Sir Monita Delamere, Joanne Morris, and Professor Evelyn Stokes. Following the death of Sir Monita in April 1993, the Tribunal continued with a quorum of four.
Fifteen hearings were held between August 1990 and June 1994, and in March 1997 the Tribunal released the Muriwhenua Land Report, which covered pre-1865 land transactions. The Tribunal was satisfied that the claims to 1865 were well founded and that the consequences had been such that recommendations for the transfer of substantial assets, to be effected as soon as practicable, would be appropriate. However, it held off making recommendations until the parties had been heard on the issue of remedies.
In all, the Muriwhenua claims are about the acquisition of land under a show of judicial and administrative process. They concern Government programmes instituted to relieve Maori of virtually the whole of their land, with little thought being given to their future wellbeing or to their economic development in a new economy. There is little difference between that and land confiscation in terms of outcome, for in each case the long-term economic results, the disintegration of communities, the loss of status and political autonomy, and despair over the fact of dispossession are much the same.
The Waitangi Tribunal
In 1990, while the inquiry was proceeding, the claimants asked the Tribunal to intervene in the sale of 1183 hectares of Kaimaumau land adjoining Rangaunu Harbour. In a short report, the Report on Kaimaumau Lands, the Tribunal recommended that the Crown take all steps that it reasonably could to retain or recover the land at Kaimaumau about to be sold by the State-owned enterprise Landcorp, and that like measures be taken to prevent the sale of other State enterprise or Crown surplus land in Muriwhenua during the currency of the Muriwhenua inquiry.