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Ed Sheeran

Maori Land Court barred from treaty mandate case

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Iwi wanting to use the Maori Land Court for leverage in Treaty of Waitangi negotiations may think again after the court refused to intervene in a case involving landlocked blocks inland from Napier.

Trustees of Te Matai No. 1 and No. 2 blocks wanted the court to say were are a large natural grouping and the crown should negotiate a settlement with them.

The issues, which involve confiscation in 1869, partial return, and the sale by the crown of an adjoining block which provided access, have been the subject of a number of actions before the court and the Waitangi Tribunal over many years.

In the 2004 Mohaka ki Ahuriri Report, the tribunal found the Crown breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by failing to ensure satisfactory access to the block.

However, it could not make a recommendation because the land needed for access was in private hands.

Even though Te Matai land is outside the Tuwharetoa rohe, most of the owners affiliate to Tutemohuta which is part of the Ngati Tuwharetoa Hapai Forum which has the mandate to negotiate the iwi’s claims.

The crown said it would not agree to be bound by an order the court made concerning treaty settlement negotiations.

Citing a previous case, it said it is the crown’s prerogative to assess the appropriate representatives of Maori groups for the purposes of Treaty settlement negotiations, and that can’t be challenged through the court.

It would therefore be an improper use of the court’s time to hear a mandate dispute.

Chief Judge Wilson Isaac said he accepted the crown’s submission that the Maori Land Court does not have jurisdiction to make an order recognising a group as an large natural for the purposes of treaty settlement negotiations, so the application was dismissed.

Judge Isaac said the landowners could reactivate a case they had before the court seeking an easement under Te Ture Whenua Maori Act.


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