He pānui – An important update on Waitangi Tribunal hearings in relation to Pouākani Remedies – Wai 85 and Wairarapa ki Tararua District Inquiry – Wai 863 & Wai 429

23 August 2019 

The Trustees consider that the recent Waitangi Tribunal hearings for the Pouākani Remedies (Wai 85) and Wairarapa ki Tararua District Inquiry (Wai 863) have made it evident that a resumption application for the lands in Mangakino has some prospect of success. Previously we have thought this was very unlikely for a number of reasons.

It has been the position of the Settlement Trust that we do not support the Wairarapa Moana Incorporation (WMI) application to the Waitangi Tribunal because it relates to land outside our customary rohe. Although our whānau have lived there for a long time, it is not our traditional land. Our tikanga says a claim on the whenua of another iwi is not the right approach. Throughout our settlement negotiations, we have worked hard to ensure the mamae caused by the lands at Pouākani being taken is recognised in our comprehensive settlement, of which all our people, including WMI shareholders, are a part.

While our position is still that we do not support the resumption application on this basis, our settlement is being put at risk through this process. The Waitangi Tribunal also asked our counsel during opening submissions whether the Settlement Trust was intending to be a potential recipient for any resumption order. After much kōrero amongst our Trustees and with legal advice, we have decided that it is in the best interests of our settlement to file our own resumption application. That way, if a decision is made that land is to be returned or redress provided, it may come to the Settlement Trust on behalf of everyone who has whakapapa to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua, not only WMI shareholders.

If the resumption application is granted, we believe the Settlement Trust is the appropriate recipient of the land for the following reasons:

  • We are working closely with Raukawa, to preserve and promote our relationship with them, and observe our tikanga to respect their mana whenua at Mangakino. This includes active and ongoing discussions with Raukawa.
  • The Settlement Trust is the right body to receive any returned lands on behalf of all those who whakapapa to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua. We hold the mandate for all 12 of the hapū who were specifically identified by the Tribunal as having interests in Wairarapa Moana.

Our priority has always been, and remains, the protection of our settlement on behalf of our people.

WMI’s resumption application is putting at risk the settlement we have achieved with the Crown. The Crown has indicated that it will not sign our Deed of Settlement, because of the fiscal risk in doing so. If some or all of the land is resumed, that would come at a significant cost to the Crown.

We believe it is possible that if WMI’s resumption application is granted, there would be a significant impact on our current settlement. By doing nothing, we may risk everything, and we strongly believe it is in our best interests to also file a resumption application to mitigate this risk.

What are the next steps?

We continue to work towards achieving the best outcome we can for you, our whānau. This is our mandate as Trustees, and we are dedicated to this kaupapa.

We are currently working through our next steps, which include discussions with Raukawa, the Crown, and the Waitangi Tribunal.

We shortly expect to file a resumption application with the Waitangi Tribunal, and then for further hearings to take place. We will advise you of these dates and times. From here, we expect the Waitangi Tribunal to make its recommendations around March or April 2020.

An update on the Wairarapa ki Tararua District Inquiry (Wai 429)

The Ngāumu Forest resumption application, applied for by both the Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi hapū and the Settlement Trust, is also currently being considered by the Waitangi Tribunal following hearings. We are currently working through mediation options with the hapū group, as recommended by the Tribunal.

Once we have updates to share on the outcome of these hui, or recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal, we will share them with you.


Further information on the Waitangi Tribunal hearing resumption applications 

What is a resumption application?

A resumption application is a request to the Waitangi Tribunal to make a binding recommendation to the Crown for it to return certain land to Māori ownership.

What is the resumption application (Wai 85) in relation to?

The resumption application is in relation to lands at Pouākani, in Mangakino, where some of our people were relocated to, following the loss of our lands at Wairarapa Moana in 1896.

That land in Pouākani was subsequently taken from our people under the public works legislation for the construction of the hydroelectric dam (Maraetai Dam) in 1949.

These actions were found to be in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and have been a key factor leading to our higher overall settlement amount.

Why didn’t the Settlement Trust look to include this land in the Settlement initially?

The history of Pouākani starts with Wairarapa Moana and is associated with the Crown’s breaches of the Treaty. We believe that seeking further land at Pouākani would have compounded these breaches.

Although our whānau have lived there for a long time, it is not our traditional land. Our tikanga says a claim on the whenua of another iwi would be wrong.

Instead, we looked to have lands returned to us in our own rohe – and specifically land around Wairarapa Moana, which has been included as part of our settlement.

Throughout our settlement negotiations, we have worked hard to ensure the mamae caused by the lands at Pouākani being taken is recognised in our comprehensive settlement, which all our people, including WMI shareholders, are a part of.

The Crown’s Treaty breaches, together with the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations for financial redress, were one of the special factors that led to a higher overall settlement amount.

While we have sought to negotiate redress for all Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua historical Treaty claims, our overall focus has been on seeking the return of our traditional whenua in our rohe.

How come we are filing a resumption application now, after not supporting it?  

Previously, we thought a resumption application being granted was very unlikely given the value of the land in issue (potentially over $600 million with the Maraetai Power Station) compared to the difference between the price the original owners sought from the Crown (£1,965), and what the Crown paid (£510) when the land was taken under the Public Works Act in 1949.

The settlement we have negotiated with the Crown was increased from $75 million to $93 million following the Settlement Trust’s advocacy in relation to the Pouākani claims, among other matters. This is another reason we thought a further resumption application related to these lands was unlikely.

While we have previously not supported the resumption application, considering how the case has developed during the Waitangi Tribunal hearings, we now believe it is in the best interest of our people to consider filing our own resumption application, on behalf of everyone who has whakapapa to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua.

In addition, the Waitangi Tribunal asked our counsel during opening submissions at the hearings, whether the Settlement Trust was intending to be a potential recipient for any resumption order.

There is a possibility that if the resumption application is granted to WMI, it would have an impact on our settlement – for example we may get less financial redress. Therefore, filing a resumption application to receive this redress, helps mitigate the risk that we lose everything we’ve worked so hard to secure.

How are we working with Raukawa to ensure we abide by our tikanga?

We are working closely with Raukawa in regard to how we respect their mana whenua, and rights over this whenua, in the event we file a resumption application and if the land is returned.

One key outcome of this Tribunal hearing process for the Settlement Trust has been the opportunity to have these important discussions with Raukawa.

Those discussions have provided the opportunity to strengthen our relationship, to heal the mamae of the past, and to respect our tikanga and theirs.

We understand that Raukawa has already completed its Settlement with the Crown and this included addressing the historical actions of the Crown on Raukawa in relation to the Pouākani lands. This means that Raukawa cannot, and would not, file a resumption order itself or seek to benefit from the settling of further grievances against the Crown. However, Raukawa have indicated they support us in seeking to reach a settlement for the wrongs that the Crown have done to us.

Treaty settlements, and the Waitangi Tribunal process, can only address the relationship between a claimant group and the Crown, and these processes cannot address the harm various historical actions have done to the relationship between Raukawa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua.  We are therefore committed to continue to work with Raukawa to ensure that the process of applying for resumption, and any remedy that might result, can be used to heal and strengthen the relationship between our iwi. Our tikanga says this is the right thing to do.

While it is for Raukawa to speak for Raukawa, our understanding is that while they remain concerned at any resumption application, they have some comfort that the Settlement Trust is better placed to receive any land returned as a result of the Tribunal process. This is due to the relationship we are now building together.

We are still working through details of what our relationship will look like, and will share further information on this as, and when, appropriate.

Why is this having an impact on our Settlement process? Hasn’t that already been ratified?

While you, our people, have ratified our current Deed of Settlement, and the Crown acknowledges we have enough support, there is now no guarantee that the Crown will sign the Deed.

The Crown has indicated that it will not sign our Deed of Settlement until the Waitangi Tribunal hearings are complete and recommendations have been made. If some or all of the land is resumed, that would come at a significant cost to the Crown and could impact our current settlement package.

We believe filing a resumption application of our own is the right approach to ensure the Settlement Trust has the best opportunity to secure a comprehensive settlement for our people.

Why is the Settlement Trust a better body to receive the redress?

If there is to be further redress in relation to these lands and this mamae, then we believe we, as the Settlement Trust, are the better body to receive that redress on behalf of the descendants of the original Wairarapa Moana owners, and all of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua.  Also, because we are committed to working closely with Raukawa, and we believe this is the right approach.

WMI’s membership does not equate to the representation of the group that once held customary rights of Wairarapa Moana. Nor is WMI mandated by a Deed like the Settlement Trust is, that directs how it would manage any financial redress on behalf of its people. Only WMI shareholders would benefit from this. Further, WMI shareholders would benefit in different proportions depending on how many WMI shares they have.

The Settlement Trust has a strong kaupapa of collective assets being held for collective benefit. We are a hapū and iwi-based organisation, based on whakapapa, not shareholding, and are mandated by all of the Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua community. All beneficiaries will share collectively and equally in the collective assets.

What will happen if the Waitangi Tribunal recommends that the resumption application goes ahead?

The Crown and the entities who receive the resumption application will have a period of time in which to negotiate alternatives. If no agreement is reached in that time period, then the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendation becomes binding and the relevant land is transferred to the entity which received the resumption application.

What is the Wairarapa ki Tararua District Inquiry Wai 429 resumption application in relation to?

Wai 429 relates to the Ngāumu Forest resumption application applied for by both the Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi hapū and the Settlement Trust. This relates to the redress of the Ngāumu Forest and who the redress should go to. Currently some redress constitutes part of the Deed of Settlement the Settlement Trust has negotiated with the Crown.

This resumption application is currently being considered by the Waitangi Tribunal following hearings. We are currently working through mediation options with the hapū group, as recommended by the Tribunal.

Once we have updates to share on the outcome of these hui, or recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal, we will share them with you.


Communications

The Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua Settlement Trust views communications as important, as it seeks to keep members of the claimant community advised of settlement developments as far as possible.

The Trust Deed also provides for accountability mechanisms to members of the claimant community. This includes Trustees reporting back to whānau at scheduled hapū karanga meetings, providing a summary of the minutes, and reporting via media (such as website information). You can view the pānui page to keep up to date on news being shared directly with members.

Presently the Trust is still within the process of signing the Deed of Settlement. This means the key items of business are confidential. The confidential aspect of negotiations is a requirement within the Terms of Negotiation the Trust has entered into with the Crown. This prevents the publication of meeting minutes. However, this page is designed to fulfil the requirements to provide a summary of the minutes (items that can be discussed freely), and to provide up-dated information for hapū karanga meetings. Claimant community members are welcome to contact their representatives to discuss any items on this page.

Trust Board Updates and Summaries of Minutes 

Click here to view updates and summaries of minutes for Trust Board meetings between December 2015 and May 2017.