Ngāti Kahu sought High court action to overthrow Tribunal decision

By Harata Brown

With the Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill about to be passed as law, Ngāti Kahu is the only Far North tribe that is yet to reach a Treaty settlement deal with the Crown.

Te Rūnanga-ā-iwi o Ngāti Kahu Chair Makere Mutu says High Court action is the only way forward for Ngāti Kahu.

“We want the Court to acknowledge that the Tribunal was wrong and to further provide a ruling that will have our case heard again by the Tribunal”, says Mutu.  

Ngāti Kahu sought binding recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal to see the return of particular state owned properties to the iwi but the application was rejected in 2013.

The Waitangi Tribunal states that the properties include former Crown properties now in private ownership. The Tribunal found however that binding orders for Ngāti Kahu would have upset the fine balance of existing agreements and impending Treaty settlements of other Te Hiku iwi.

Ngāti Kahu High Court action now comes at a cost of about $100,000 which Mutu claims is supported by the majority of Ngāti Kahu marae.

Mutu says, “What we are hearing from whānau and hapū is that they want to see progress and they want to ensure that the work is being done properly.”   

The Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill had its second reading in Parliament this year. Part of the settlement also includes The Te Hiku Social Accord that enables iwi to provide policy advice to Government departments. 

Mutu claims however that the accord is a flawed deal. 

“The best solution for whānau, hapū and marae is 'Whānau Ora'. The Social Accord is actually a foreign approach that continues to see social welfare handled by the Government. Whānau Ora is the best fit as social responsibilities are returned to whānau", said Mutu.  

Ngāti Kahu Rūnanga say that eleven of the fifteen Ngāti Kahu marae rejected the Crown's Treaty settlement offer of financial and commercial redress valued at $23.4mil.

In June this year Ngāti Kahu Rūnanga submitted their judicial review application to the High Court to further seek binding recommendations from the Tribunal and continue to wait for the judge's decision. 

In the meantime however a book entitled, Ngāti Kahu: Portrait of a Sovereign Nation: Traditions, History and Treaty Claims will be published by Huia Publishers in 2017.