10 Mar 2017

Auckland iwi appeals Crown land sale

1:53 pm on 10 March 2017

Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Trust will appeal a High Court judgement that upheld a decision for two other iwi to purchase Crown land in Auckland as part of their treaty settlements.

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Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei says it has first right of refusal to Crown land sales within its Auckland heartland. Photo: 123rf.com

The Minister of Treaty Settlements, Chris Finlayson, gave Ngāti Paoa the opportunity to purchase two Crown land sites on Grafton Road and Dominion Road last year, and also offered up nine central Auckland properties for Marutūāhu Collective to purchase.

As part of its treaty settlement, Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei had first right of refusal and it also has ahi kaa and mana whēnua claims to the land.

Its spokesperson Ngarimu Blair said land transferred within its heartland should not be done so with anyone else but Ngāti Whātua.

"The current approach to overlapping claims is a fundamental breach of tikanga and of our Treaty rights, and as a Trust, we have a duty to protect the interests and mana of our people.

"We want all iwi in Tāmaki to settle with the Crown, however that can't happen by undermining those who already have a settlement," Mr Blair said.

In his judgement Judge Paul Davison said the decision by the Minister involved political and fiscal factors and there was no yard stick to examine and assess whether they were made pursuant to a lawful exercise of public power.

The Marutūāhu Collective - a group of five Auckland and Hauraki iwi currently negotiating treaty settlements with the Crown - welcomed the High Court ruling.

Marutūāhu Collective chair Paul Majurey said the ruling confirmed that no single iwi has superior and existing rights over the other iwi who have had interests in and inhabited Auckland over many centuries.

"It reinforces the Waitangi Tribunal's 2007 report which came to the same conclusion. It was out of that report that the Crown invited the various iwi of Auckland to consider an approach to treaty settlements which acknowledged the shared interests and rights of all of the mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau.

"This ruling in favour of Ngāti Pāoa, the Marutūāhu Collective and the Crown now allows us to proceed with finalising our current treaty settlement negotiations," said Mr Majurey

The Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust will appeal the High Court decision and are encouraged by the support received from several iwi who are also facing similar issues with the government's overlapping claims policy.