Mangatu lands claims ‘too oblique’
Do these Treaty claims relate to the land?
Are they “well-founded” claims to the land?
These are key points to consider in determining the fate of Mangatu Crown forest licensed lands in the latest Waitangi Tribunal remedies hearing, say Crown lawyers.
The atrocities of the 1865 invasion of Waerenga a Hika Pa should not be considered by the Tribunal for this case, as was put forward by iwi Te Aitanga a Mahaki, say Crown counsel. Neither should a claim into the forest lands by local iwi Te Whanau a Kai be considered.
The claims made by the iwi do not relate to the Mangatu Crown forest licensed lands, it says.
The Crown’s counsel made these statements during closing submissions in the Mangatu remedies hearing to the Waitangi Tribunal in Wellington.
It was the fourth week of hearings since August. The first three hearings were held in Gisborne.
Six groups have claimed for the return of Mangatu Crown forest licensed lands and compensation as a result of historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi made by the Crown.
The applicant groups are Mangatu Incorporation, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Nga Ariki Kaiputahi, Ngariki Kaiputahi (separate from the prior group), Te Whanau a Kai, and Rangiwhakataetaea/Wi Haronga/Ngati Matepu.
In accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975, the Tribunal must decide which of the claims relates to the Mangatu Crown forest licensed lands, and whether they are “well-founded” claims to the land, said Crown counsel Craig Linkhorne.
The claims by Te Aitanga a Mahaki did relate in part to the licensed lands but the scale of relief sought by the iwi went beyond this particular case, he said.
Iwi loading on other issues ‘beyond the connection’ to lands: Crown“It’s not altogether surprising that claimants, because they want to secure some remedy, are loading into the forest land these other issues,” said Mr Linkhorne.
“But we say things have gone too far in some respects. It’s too oblique.
“The Waerenga a Hika fighting is beyond the connection, we say, in what can relate to the (Mangatu licensed) lands.”
The scale of relief sought by Nga Ariki Kaiputahi and Ngariki Kaiputahi also went beyond the severity of the prejudice that the Tribunal might find was suffered, he said.
Mr Linkhorne said the claims by Te Whanau a Kai did not relate to the licensed lands at all.
Evidence for Te Whanau a Kai was through whakapapa connecting them to Ngariki interests, rather than as Te Whanau a Kai, he said.
“As the statutory wording makes clear, it is the claim made, rather than the claimants, that must relate to the relevant land.
“If this was the remedies hearing for every unsettled claim in the Turanga inquiry district then our conversation would no doubt be different,” said Mr Linkhorne.
While saying these claims do not relate to the lands in question, the Crown accepts that all unsettled claims in the Turanga inquiry district are “significant and deserve redress”.
“Having such a tightly focused remedies hearing at this stage of the inquiry does not mean that the other unsettled claims in the inquiry district that do not relate to the forest land have somehow been abandoned, or that they can never be the subject of Tribunal recommendations for appropriate redress in future,” the Crown submissions read.
“Nor can those other claims be overlooked as the Tribunal decides what remedies recommendations it will make for these forest claims.
“As the Tribunal has said, the claims of this district are some of the most serious matters in our history.”