Tribunal wants more money for coastal claimants

A two-year inquiry by the Waitangi Tribunal predictably has found that the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 breaches the Treaty of Waitangi and prejudicially affects Maori.

The Act introduced tests whereby customary marine title or protected customary rights may be awarded, either by direct engagement with the responsible Minister or by application to the High Court. The main test to uphold a claim is evidence of exclusive and continuous use or occupation since 1840.

Private Maori interests lodged nearly 600 claims for title or rights to the coastal area and these claims will take decades and hundreds of millions of dollars to process.

The appearance of multiple overlapping claims showed that there was no exclusive use or occupation of the coastal area. The Minister who drafted the Act expected very few claims to succeed.

Claimants therefore went to their friend in times such as this, the Waitangi Tribunal.

The Tribunal received 92 claims for stage 1 of the Inquiry that investigated procedural and resourcing arrangements. A further 75 groups were granted interested party status.

To increase funding, the Tribunal recommended adapting legal aid to coastal claims. This is despite existing six-figure funding from taxpayers for each claim.

To resolve overlapping interests, the Tribunal wants the Crown to fund mediators to reorganise claims, presumably so that they no longer overlap.

Lack of exclusivity shown by use and occupation of the coastal area by non-Maori groups since 1840 was ignored.

The Tribunal assumed the moral high ground by focussing on “the Crown’s obligations as a Treaty partner” while remaining blissfully unaware that claimants may also have obligations.

The Government can either heed or ignore Waitangi Tribunal recommendations.


Our petition which asks Parliament to amend the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 to restore public ownership of the coastal area, put all claims through the High Court, and repeal customary marine title, while affirming customary rights, has picked up 23,772 signatures.

The petition may be signed at

New Plymouth council discusses Maori ward again

A fiery debate erupted when the New Plymouth District Council’s Te Huinga Taumatua iwi committee met on June 30 to discuss whether a Maori ward should be established there.

Such a decision is required of all local authorities every six years and in 2014, the New Plymouth council decided to create such a ward. A petition from more than five percent of electors requested a binding poll that took place in 2015 in which 83 percent voted the proposal down.

In deciding whether or not to set up a Maori ward, a council has three options: retain the present position (of no Maori ward), establish a Maori ward or wards, or conduct a poll

This time, the committee made the strange recommendation that the council should remove the option of retaining the present position (of no Maori ward).

If the council follows the committee’s recommendation, it would be left with the two remaining options -- either hold a binding poll or establish a Maori ward for the next two elections. Presumably, the iwi committee hopes that no one would bother to collect signatures for a poll.

Hobson’s Pledge helped collect signatures in five districts - Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Manawatu, Palmerston North and Kaikoura - in early 2018. This triggered binding votes overwhelmingly against Maori wards in all five areas.

If the New Plymouth District Council proposes a Maori ward again, Hobson’s Pledge would again help collect the signatures for a poll.

Proponents of Maori wards assert that traditional local council structures are shutting out “the Maori voice”.

They don’t say or possibly don’t realise that Maori wards limit Maori roll voters to a much more limited selection of candidates. If these voters don’t like the options presented, they must wait for the next census to opt off the Maori roll.

It is difficult to imagine what “the Maori voice” would have to say that would differ from the voice of other local residents given that council decisions are mainly to do with roads, clean drinking water, sewage, drainage, libraries, sports facilities and cultural centres, all of which are for the benefit of everyone irrespective of ethnicity.

Without a Maori ward, New Plymouth already has at least one Maori councillor. This implies that, with the iwi committee, “the Maori voice” is already loud and clear there.

“The Maori voice” is already speaking at numerous councils around New Zealand, and has been speaking there for years. This has happened without setting up a race-based local voting system.


Everyone quiet on Ihumatao

Our petition for the Government to allow both Te Kawerau a Maki and Fletchers to proceed with their lawful business has collected 3040 signatures. If you have not done so already, please sign our petition at

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