10 May 2010

Big Nga Puhi crowd welcomes tribunal to Waitangi

6:00 am on 10 May 2010

A crowd of more than 1000 welcomed the Waitangi Tribunal to Waitangi itself on Sunday - to hear the grievances of the Nga Puhi people.

The Paparahi o te Raki inquiry, dealing with Treaty breaches in the north, is the last of the major treaty claims to be heard, and involves the country's largest and poorest iwi.

The initial hearings have been set down for a week, at the Waitangi marae - where Nga Puhi chiefs gathered in 1840 to debate the Treaty and whether they should sign it.

Nga Puhi's overarching claim states that their chiefs declared New Zealand's sovereignty in the 1835 Declaration of Independence, and did not surrender it when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi five years later.

The arrival of the Tribunal at Waitangi on Sunday afternoon coincided with a torrential downpour - Northland's first heavy rain in six months.