The Tribunal's findings
In 1992, the Waitangi Tribunal found that:
- the Crown used unfair methods to purchase Te Roroa's lands;
- the Crown failed to make proper provision for native reserves;
- Te Roroa's community was destroyed, resulting in a loss of mana;
- the Crown allowed Te Roroa's taonga to be violated;
- the Crown denied Te Roroa the benefits of development enjoyed by other New Zealanders; and
- the Crown failed to listen to Te Roroa's grievances.
Land in Private Ownership
Many people who were not Te Roroa became the owners of Te Roroa land. They bought their land in good faith. This means that they paid the market price for it and the sale was conducted according to the law. They probably did not know the history of the land they were buying or how it had been lost by the traditional owners, or that Te Roroa had had a grievance about it for many years. They were probably unaware that their land might have included a sacred site of special significance to the Te Roroa people.
The private landowners spent a lot of money (and, in some cases, generations of work) on developing it for their own use. Some of the land had been sold and resold to many people over the years and may have become a productive farm, an exotic forest, or a small residential section near the beach. If the then owners wanted to sell their land, they too wanted a fair deal.
The Waitangi Tribunal suggested that the Te Roroa people could come to an agreement with the private owners to ensure that wahi tapu were restored and protected for the future.
The Government noted the recommendations of the Tribunal and wanted to help resolve the grievances that had existed for so long. The Government had a difficult task – it had to try to take account of Te Roroa's claim while, at the same time, understanding the position of the private landowners.
The Government said that, although wrongs may have been committed in the past, it would be 'a far greater and more blatant wrong' to interfere with the then private ownership of the land. The Government negotiated with the farmers and other landowners who wished to sell their land. The idea was that, once they agreed on a fair price for the land, the Government would buy it and then give it back to Te Roroa.
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