19 Sep 2008

Tribunal will decide on relevancy of gang claims says judge

6:46 am on 19 September 2008

The acting chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal has dismissed claims from politicians that two gang treaty claims are irrelevant.

The applications from Black Power and the Mongrel Mob were part of more than 2000 claims received by the 1 September cut off date.

They are largely based on claims that the rise of Maori gangs can be attributed to colonisation.

The claims have been dismissed as irrelevant by some politicians.

Tribunal acting chairperson Judge Carrie Wainwright says their relevancy is up to the Tribunal to decide, not politicians.

She says the Tribunal does not determine whether a claimant such as a gang member is a worthy person, it looks purely at whether a claim is relevant under the 1975 Act.

Labour Party MP Dover Samuels, a former Minister of Maori Affairs, says if the Tribunal was to take on the gang claims it would undermine the entire Treaty process.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen said on Wednesday he could not see any legal basis for a Treaty claim by gangs.