Ngāti Paoa hapū takes a stand against the Crown

By Jessica Tyson

Members of a Kauahi hapū of Ngāti Paoa are protesting against the Crown, calling for a change in the iwi's ratification processes relating to the Ngāti Paoa Deed of Settlement.

Members say the current process is not allowing all Kauahi hapū members to vote, and since the hapū is the tuakana line of Ngāti Paoa they deserve more of a say. 

Danella Roebeck, of Kauahi and Ngāti Paoa, took part in the protest in which members walked from Karangahape Road to Aotea Square in central Auckland on Saturday.

“The reason why we're standing here today is that the Crown has put our hapū, the tuakana line, the direct descendant and jeopardised and we say no we've had enough,” Roebeck told Te Ao Māori News.

Due to an issue within the ratification processes, the majority of Kauahi hapū are not receiving voting packs, says Roebeck. The Crown has told the hapū that members who have not received voting packs can instead cast a special vote.

“Why should Kauahi have special votes when they're the tuakana line? Why should we have a special vote? Who does the Crown think they are?,” Roebeck says.

The Waiheke Station Farm is one of many elements in the settlement that the hapū disagrees with.

Roebeck says the Waiheke Station is a trust of its own, but the sole trustee of that trust is the Ngāti Paoa Trust Board on behalf of the iwi. For two years, she says the Ngāti Paoa Trust Board has been in discussions with the Crown about removing that from the settlement because the iwi already owns it.

“As far as we're concerned, the negotiators went outside their brief and the Crown went outside its brief in allowing that to be put back into the settlement.”

The Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, admits there are flaws in the process of treaty claims.

“The settlement trust and Ngāti Paoa, another entity, are both conducting a ratification procedure. That ratification procedure is entirely for Ngāti Paoa. The Crown doesn’t have any determination over that except that the Crown has, once the voting is completed, to decide whether or not it recognises the result as a legitimate result representing all Ngāti Paoa,” Minister Little says.

But the Kauahi hapū believe it is the Crown's responsibility.

“What we’re saying to the Crown is that you rated the problem and the hapū of Kauahi are going to stand and fight. We’re not going to lie down,” Roebeck says.