Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to appeal High Court decision

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust says it is disappointed that the High Court has today declined to hear its case seeking to clarify the Crown’s process in negotiating Treaty of Waitangi settlements in Auckland.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesman Ngarimu Blair says the Hapū had hoped Justice Davison would accept the case but was always prepared that, whatever the decision, the matter would likely go to appeal.

“This is the first step in what may be a long and intense process, but we believe it is crucial to clarify the Government’s approach to settling overlapping Treaty claims,” says Mr Blair.

“The current approach to overlapping claims is a fundamental breach of tikanga and of our Treaty rights, and as a Trust, we have a duty to protect the interests and mana of our people.

“We want all iwi in Tāmaki to settle with the Crown, however that can’t happen by undermining those who already have a Settlement.”

The Trust filed papers in the High Court in 2015 after becoming aware of the Crown’s proposal to transfer whenua in central Auckland to other iwi as part of their individual Treaty Settlements.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has the primary mana whenua interests in central Auckland, and applied for a declaratory judgement relating to the Crown’s negotiation process with Ngāti Paoa and Marutūāhu and proposed transfer of land within central Auckland. The High Court has declined that application.

“Our focus is on protecting the Settlements we agreed with the Crown in 1996 and 2012, not stopping anyone else’s,” says Mr Blair.

“It seems that the Judge is saying that by signing up to the Tāmaki Collective agreement in 2012, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei effectively gave away our primary mana whenua interests in Tāmaki Makaurau.

“We totally disagree with that. Had the Crown made it explicit that we were signing our ‘mana away’ clearly we wouldn’t have.

“This should be a warning to all iwi who have, or who are entering, collective settlements.”

The Trust says it will now appeal the High Court decision.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has been encouraged by the support received from several iwi who are also facing similar issues with the Government’s overlapping claims policy.

“Litigation was our last option but Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei believes this action will ultimately benefit all iwi who have settled, or will settle, with the Crown,” says Mr Blair.

“We are committed to seeking clarity on this matter, as the outcome of the case will have major consequences for iwi throughout Aotearoa and local councils and government departments who engage with iwi.”