17 Dec 2013

Waitangi Tribunal only available forum

7:28 pm on 17 December 2013

One of the lawyers taking a case against the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process says the Waitangi Tribunal is a creature of the Crown - but it's the only forum it can turn to.

Lawyer Moana Sinclair says no one can afford to go to the High Court, and the number of Treaty of Waitangi lawyers is diminishing.

She's co-ordinating claims by members from more than a dozen iwi and hapu, who argue the Crown is failing to negotiate with the true tribal descendants.

Ms Sinclair says asking for an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing is their only option but that it is not some special body for Maori people; instead, it was dreamt up by the Crown, for the Crown.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson says he does not believe legal action will succeed.

Decisions on who to negotiate with are based on reports from the Waitangi Tribunal and advice from expert historians.

He says the group behind the case has unsuccessfully complained about the same issue before, and he doesn't expect it to win this time.

The Government is making good progress resolving claims to the Waitangi Tribunal, Mr Finlayson says.