Decisions & recommendations

The Main Findings of the Tribunal

The Tribunal's main findings were that:

  • the pipeline proposal was a policy of the Crown;
  • Māori fisheries were protected by the Treaty of Waitangi and emptying Rotorua's effluent into the Kaituna River would be contrary to the principles of the Treaty because it would pollute the fisheries; and
  • there were alternatives to the pipeline which were practical and did not go against Māori values.

The Main Recommendations of the Tribunal

Maketu at the mouth of the Kaituna River.The Tribunal's main recommendations were that:

  • the construction of the pipeline to empty effluent into the Kaituna River should not proceed, being contrary to the Treaty of Waitangi;
  • research should be carried out into land disposal as an alternative method of getting rid of the effluent;
  • the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967 and related legislation should be changed to enable regional water boards and the Planning Tribunal properly to take into account Māori spiritual and cultural values when making decisions about water rights; and
  • the Government should provide the same subsidy if, instead of the pipeline, a biological or chemical-stripping process was used to dispose of the effluent.

The Crown's Response

The Crown abandoned all financial support for the pipeline and announced its support for a combined treatment plant and land-disposal option for Rotorua's effluent. This new scheme involved spraying the effluent on trees in the nearby Whakarewarewa Forest. There was no danger of run-off finding its way into the lake or other waterways. The Crown offered the same subsidy for this scheme as it had for the pipeline scheme.

Changes were made to the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967 as part of a wider review of all laws governing how New Zealand's resources were managed. A new law, the Resource Management Act, was passed in 1991, and it included references to the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori spiritual and cultural values.

Further Reading

  • ‘Flushed with Success’, New Zealand Herald, 6 July 1990
  • Waitangi Tribunal, Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Kaituna River Claim, 2nd ed (Wellington: Government Printing Office, 1989)
  • ‘The Treaty Today: What Went Wrong and What Are We Doing About It?’, New Zealand Geographic, February–March 1990, pp 32–71

Next: Kaituna Teacher's Notes

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