Treaty lawyer says tikanga best process for cross-claims

By Mānia Clarke

Treaty Claims lawyer Te Kani Williams says a tikanga-based process is the best approach for multiple Iwi to settle cross-claim settlements.

This comes as Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little delays settling the Hauraki Collective settlement to allow tribes to talk out their issues.

“The elders can discuss who has the ancestral rights to the land, which tribe gained rights through past battles,” says Williams.

“Yes, it's an excellent pathway to resolve who has the rights to sacred landmarks”.

Ngāti Paoa have been implementing a tikanga approach for a few years, with the renewal of an historic peace pact with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and signing an agreement with Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui to reaffirm kinship ties.

“On the marae is the right place to discuss these important issues,” says Ngāti Paoa secretariat, Haydn Solomon.

“That's where you can decide what's the right process is, you can be honest and understanding, we can do this through Māori protocols”.

The Treaty Negotiations Minister has delayed his decision on the Hauraki and Tauranga Moana Iwi claims following a recent protest march to parliament by the east coast Bay of Plenty tribes calling on the government to halt their settlement deal with the Hauraki Collective, until a tikanga-based process has been followed.

“The problem is, if tribes don't agree with this process it will go back to the Crown to decide who has the rights to the land and resources,” says Williams, “Under that, some of the tribes get left out from receiving redress from their land”. 

“Ngāti Paoa wants the minister to implement tikanga-based policies when dealing with cross-claims that will benefit iwi Māori so that we can resolve the issues but still have the doors open to us,” says Solomon.

Williams says setting up a panel of Māori tikanga experts to help iwi mediate their tikanga process should also be explored.

Hauraki elders will meet tomorrow to consider an invitation by Tauranga Moana tribes to resolve their overlapping claims through a tikanga-based process.