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Cross-examining the '$170 million'

Compensation for the claimed Treaty of Waitangi breaches by the Crown against Te Aitanga a Mahaki was the main topic of discussion at the Waitangi Tribunal hearing of the Mangatu remedies claim yesterday.

Economist for Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Dr Richard Meade has estimated that the monetary value of the overall compensation for the Mangatu claim would be $170 million plus the return of the Crown forest-licensed land.

Dr Meade was questioned for most of the day about how he came to that figure, especially regarding the methodolgy he used towards reaching his estimate.

Dr Meade took into account Treaty of Waitangi breaches by the Crown against Te Aitanga a Mahaki, which included the invasion at Waerenga a Hika in November 1865 that led to loss of life, imprisonment on Chatham Islands without trial, the ceding of over one million acres of land and the destruction of tribal structures rendering whanau landless and impoverished.

Dr Meade said he came to his estimations using a process called ‘counter-factual’.

“We look at what we know actually happened and then we ask, ‘what would the world be like had the Treaty of Waitangi breaches to Te Aitanga a Mahaki not happened?” he said.

“If we don’t have a counter-factual, I don’t have anything to work with.

“I have a factual (historical wrong-doings by the Crown).

“I have to estimate what would have happened if the breach had not happened.”

Counsel for the Crown, Craig Linkhorne noted that non-monetary compensation had not been factored into Dr Meade’s calculations.

“What about remorse? Remorse can be seen as valuable. An apology can be seen as valuable,” said Mr Linkhorne.

Dr Meade said it would it be up to the tribunal to recommend non-monetary compensation.

As an economist, Dr Meade said his brief as directed by Te Aitanga a Mahaki, was to quantify numbers in regard to loss of life and land, and grievances to the iwi made by the Crown.

Mr Linkhorne said that he noted there was no mention in Dr Meade’s estimations of any positive gains the iwi could have possibly encountered since 1865, the siege of Waerenga a Hika, had the Treaty breach not occurred.

Dr Meade reiterated his brief once again.

“I’m not trying to value the people’s gains, I’m trying to value the people’s losses.

“I am focusing on things that have caused damage to Mahaki.”

Counsel for Nga Ariki Kaiputahi Tom Bennion questioned Dr Meade about the fullness of his calculations, saying there was no indication of losses to iwi Ngariki Kaiputahi.

Once again Dr Meade said his brief was to make estimations on the losses of Te Aitanga a Mahaki.

Ann Parsonson of the Tribunal raised the point that making estimations for compensation was a complex process — marrying history with economics.