Claimant lawyers involved in an urgent hearing into Ngatiwai's mandate say there are a number of issues - including lack of consent for the mandate - which are strikingly similar to the issues in the Ngapuhi mandate inquiry.
The Waitangi Tribunal is holding a three-day urgent hearing this week on claims lodged by 10 groups who oppose the Government's recognition of the Ngatiwai Trust Board's (NTB) deed of mandate to negotiate the iwi's Treaty of Waitangi claims.
The hearings kicked off yesterday morning with a powhiri to welcome the Crown and the tribunal. About 100 people filled a room at Toll Stadium as they listened to opening submissions and cross-examination of claimants.
During opening submissions John Kahukiwa, claimant lawyer for Wai 2549 - Te Waiariki, Ngati Korora and Ngati Te Taka Pari hapu, said the hapu have their own land, territory and land blocks.
"The Crown comes along and arrives with its settlement chequebook, its mandate and it says, we wish to settle all of these claims in this area. Of course it commences by recognising the mandate of the NTB and that mandate clearly covers my client hapu," he said.
"Here's the kicker, my client hapu didn't consent to be in there."
Mr Kahukiwa said in the Waitangi Tribunal's report into the Crown's recognition of Tuhoronuku's mandate to negotiate claims on behalf of Ngapuhi, the tribunal determined that hapu will be prejudiced if their Treaty claims were negotiated and settled without consent and that prejudice will be exacerbated in cases where the claims involve Crown forest assets, as they do in his clients' case.
He was not the only claimant counsel to draw similarities between the Ngapuhi mandate inquiry and the Ngatiwai mandate inquiry.
Kelly Dixon, claimant counsel for Wai 745 and 1308 - Patuharakeke, said there were issues which were "strikingly" similar to those in the Ngapuhi mandate inquiry "that Patuharakeke strongly endorse" including:
- lack of consent and support by hapu to the mandate
- lack of hapu representation on the mandated body
- The absence of a workable withdrawal mechanism
- The inappropriateness of the application of the Crown's Large Natural Grouping policy to the claimant community.
She said Patuharakeke was in a unique situation as its claims are captured by several entities - including the Ngatiwai Trust Board - in a "partial settlement regime endorsed by the Crown".
"Patuharakeke have never disputed the whanaungatanga and whakapapa that it has to hapu and iwi...However, it is the nature in which the Crown has manipulated that whakapapa and drawn artificial boundaries in order to comply with its ruthless Treaty settlement at all costs policies. That is also impacting the exercise of tino rangatiratanga and mana whenua of Patuharakeke," she said.
The hearing continues today and tomorrow.