Two Ngāti Wai claimants feel disadvantaged by Treaty claims process

By Harata Brown

Two Ngāti Wai claimants believe they have been left handicapped, in their ability to have the same access and support as all other claimants in the Waitangi Tribunal hearings process.

They say the oldest Ngāti Wai Treaty claim won't benefit from any Treaty claims assistance. 

Marie Tautari (Wai 156 claimant) says, "Well it's always going to be a disadvantage to anyone to find out that they are no longer in an equal playing field." 

Huhana Seve (Wai 1677 claimant) says, "There has been no financial support for our claimants and supporters to come back and present and more." 

Three Ngati Wai Treaty claims have been excluded from a recent Crown Forestry Rental Trust (CFRT) funding decision to assist members of the Te Mana Motuhake o Whangarei grouping who will present their claims to the Tribunal next week. 

Tautari says, "They have a policy that they do not continue to fund claimants when the group has got a mandate and that's just how we missed out."

WAI1677 claimant Huhana Seve and WAI156 claimant Marie Tautari represent two of the claims that have been excluded.  They say they have been working on their claims without any support from iwi or CFRT for several years. 

Seve says, "The Minister of Treaty Negotiations has endorsed the Ngāti Wai Trust Board's mandate to settle our claims, and the CFRT funding meant for us hasn't come through, and now we are left impoverished and out-casted."

The group with the mandate to conduct direct negotiations, Ngāti Wai Trust says:  

"Parallel funding was signalled as an option to claimants in April 2015 but there was very little interest expressed including from at least two of the three claimants. 

Again, we are fully committed to engaging with these whanau, and willing to discuss with them how we can work through this issue together." 

                                - Hayden Edmonds
                                 Heamana, Ngāti Wai Trust

Seve says, "I continue to lobby for us to come together before the Waitangi Tribunal, but as of late, there has been no support whatsoever."

The Crown Forestry Trust couldn't be reached for comment.