Judge finds Sir Eddie Durie not conflicted in Ngapuhi claims

8:01 pm on 24 October 2013

A judge has found that Sir Eddie Durie does not have a conflict of interest as a member of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, in its funding decisions for Ngapuhi claims.

The trust funds Waitangi Tribunal hearings and the historical research needed to take claims to it.

But for almost a year it has been paralysed by a dispute over whether Sir Eddie is conflicted as a trustee because his wife, lawyer Donna Hall, acts for a few of more than 300 claimant groups.

Sir Eddie took the trust to the High Court after it barred him from taking part in funding decisions for the Ngapuhi claims.

In his opinion, released on Thursday, retired Appeal Court judge Sir Bruce Robertson says Ms Hall does not have a financial interest in funding for the inquiry simply because she acts for a couple of clients.

He says there is no conflict that would require Sir Eddie to step aside.

Sir Bruce says Donna Hall has not represented anyone or any group with links to a land claim since August last year.

Donna Hall says the trust by its own rules, should have let her husband evaluate any conflict himself, and the opinion vindicates his decision to go to court.

She says the issues should have been laid out but her husband was simply told that a decision had been made, that he was out and someone else was being brought in to replace him.

Ms Hall says that's what prompted him to go to court.