Tribunal set to review Ngatiwai mandate for Treaty negotiations

By Mikaela Collins

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Ngatiwai hapu and claimants who asked the Waitangi Tribunal for an urgent hearing into the Ngatiwai Trust Board's Deed of Mandate say the decision to grant the hearing validates the concerns of hapu and iwi who opposed the mandate.

The Crown recognised the Ngatiwai Trust Board's Deed of Mandate on October 21 last year. One month later, Ngati Rehua ki Tuparehuia claimant Huhana Lyndon filed an application for urgency opposing the Crown's recognition of that mandate.

Following Ms Lyndon's application, 10 other groups filed for urgency and, this week, the Waitangi Tribunal decided to grant an urgency hearing.

"We welcome the judge's decision and the way he has validated the concerns claimants and hapu had about the Crown's recognition of the Ngatiwai Trust Board's Deed of Mandate," Ms Lyndon said.

She alleged, in her application, the Crown did not ensure the Ngatiwai Trust Board carried out an open, fair and robust process, and said there were significant issues surrounding the election of marae representatives who make up the board.

Ngatiwai Trust Board chairman Haydn Edmonds said the body was still processing the information in the report.

"We believe the Deed of Mandate we have established clearly provides for kaumatua, hapu and marae representatives to advise the board at a governance level," Mr Edmonds said.

"We understand and recognise there are still some members and, in particular, three hapu who have concerns about what the mandate means for them. We have been working through this issue since it was first raised and will continue to hold hui to enable them every opportunity to engage with us in this settlement process."

Te Kapotai spokeswomanWillow-Jean Prime said it opposed the mandate, as the hapu never consented to being included in it.

"We have never given our consent, so we're really pleased the tribunal has granted this hearing."

It's not the first time an iwi's Deed of Mandate has been challenged. Tuhoronuku's mandate to negotiate on behalf of Ngapuhi saw several hapu lodge applications with the Waitangi tribunal for urgency hearings.

As a result, a report by the tribunal found, while Tuhoronuku's mandate was legitimate, their structures undermined the sovereignty of hapu.

Ms Prime said there were parallels between Tuhoronuku's mandate and the Ngatiwai Trust Board's mandate and the Crown needed to reconsider the way the mandating process was carried out.

"The focus is on these large natural groupings when it should be on hapu."

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, had no comment to make as the issue was currently before the tribunal.

- Northern Advocate

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