Mangatu claim before Tribunal
The return of the Mangatu forest to local iwi will be on the table at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing in Gisborne next week.
The Mangatu remedies claim will be heard from Monday to Friday at the Poverty Bay Golf Club.
The Waitangi Tribunal reported in 2004 that the Mangatu Crown Forest should be returned to local iwi Te Aitanga a Mahaki.
Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Nga Ariki Kaiputahi, Te Whanau a Kai, Ngati Matepu and Ngati Rangiwhakataetaea will provide evidence at the hearing next week.
University of Canterbury lecturer Dr Martin Fisher wrote a column that featured in The Herald earlier this month about the process.
He is an expert in colonial and modern histories of Crown-Maori interactions, the Treaty of Waitangi claims process and indigenous sovereignty in a global context.
Once a claim has been inquired into and reported on by the Tribunal, it is possible for claimants to apply for an urgent remedies hearing.
This is a special kind of hearing where the Tribunal looks exclusively at remedies available to the claimants.
Mr Fisher said the Tribunal had in the past been able to suppress its use of binding powers to provide remedies for claimants.
It was now under immense pressure from the Supreme Court to issue binding recommendations, he said.
“In 2009, the chairman of the Mangatu Incorporation on the East Coast of the North Island applied for binding remedies to recommend the return of part of the Mangatu State Forest to its owners.
“The Supreme Court majority (with one dissent) backed the Mangatu Incorporation and forced the tribunal to hear their claim for binding remedies.
“When the Tribunal issued its report in early 2014, it refused to issue any binding recommendations, claiming it would do more harm to the others if any one group was favoured.
“Once again, the Mangatu Incorporation took the tribunal to court and had its case upheld by the High Court.
“The Attorney-General then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal, which found in Mangatu Inc’s favour again.
“Instead of continuing on to the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General accepted the decision and another remedies hearing is on the cards, but this time the Tribunal is under enormous pressure to not only hear the claim, but to issue binding recommendations.
“It is unclear exactly what the repercussions of these decisions will be for the Treaty settlement process.
“Only time will tell but it is clear we are in the middle of a very significant moment in the history of the modern Treaty settlement process.”