Crown breaches Treaty principles

The Waitangi Tribunal has released its findings on the Whakatōhea Mandate Inquiry Report where they discovered a breach of principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown.

The Tribunal says the Crown had failed to fulfill its duty to act reasonably, honorably and in good faith, which constitutes a breach of the Treaty principles of partnership and active protection.

Presiding Officer for the inquiry, Judge Michael Doogan, says, “We believe it came about because the Crown effectively prioritised its political objective of concluding settlements by mid-2020 over a process that was fair to Whakatōhea”.

In the report, the Tribunal identifies the lack of balance in the mandate process and says that it implies a predetermined outcome. 

Judge Doogan says, "The particular circumstances within Whakatōhea in 2016 that were known to the Crown required more than the expedient of picking and backing the group considered most likely to achieve the Crown’s objective of a quick settlement”.

Historically, Whakatōhea has endured some of the worst Treaty breaches, which include war and raupatu.

More recently, the iwi has been divided over a failed attempt to settle in 1996.

The Tribunal recommended that the negotiations should be temporarily stopped to give every one of Whkatōhea the opportunity to vote on how to proceed.

To avoid any further prejudice to Whakatōhea, the Tribunal recommends that the Crown commit to maintaining its current settlement offer and pay interest on the cash component of the settlement offer.

The Tribunal also recommends that Whakatōhea must be given an opportunity to vote on a hapū basis.

It says this is consistent with the tikanga for mandate recognition that was endorsed by Whakatōhea in 2007.