The Waitangi Tribunal has recommended the Crown pause Ngatiwai Treaty negotiations so issues with the Ngatiwai Trust Board's deed of mandate can be addressed.
The Ngatiwai Mandate Inquiry Report, released today, found the Crown breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi when it recognised the mandate of the Ngatiwai Trust Board to negotiate Treaty claims on behalf of iwi in October 2015.
The report comes after 10 claimant groups applied for an urgent inquiry into the Crown's recognition of that mandate. Urgency hearings were held at Whangarei's Toll Stadium in October last year and in Wellington in December.
Claimant Mylie George of Ngatiwai ki Whangaruru said whanau welcomed the report.
"It is heartening to see this judicial body has given equitable weighting to tikanga as it did to the law in its findings and recommendations. We can now work constructively in a way that upholds and enhances our hapū and whanau rangatiratanga, mana whenua, and mana moana."
Ngatiwai Trust Board Chairman Haydn Edmonds said it will take time to fully evaluate the lengthy report.
"Our focus and commitment is to our people and good governance is an essential part of that. We will be having hui with our whanau, hapu and iwi to work out how we now best move forward to continue our Treaty Settlement aspirations."
The Waitangi Tribunal found the Crown failed to fulfil its duty of active protection of hapu tino rangatiratanga and in doing so breached the Treaty principles of partnership and equal treatment.
It also found the Crown pressured the trust board into responding to the government's timetable and settlement policies - including the Government's goal to achieve all Treaty settlements by 2014.
The tribunal found the Deed of Mandate:
• does not include mechanisms for individual hapu to consent to the mandate, nor to withdraw from it
• empowers the Ngatiwai Trust Board which, as presently structured, is not "fit for purpose" to represent hapu.
• proposes supporting structures and advisory bodies that do not provide meaningful representation of hapu.
The Tribunal recommended negotiations be paused to allow mediation to take place.
If an agreement is reached, the Crown's support will be required for any changes proposed so the Deed of Mandate can be amended and re-submitted to all parties, including hapu listed in the deed, for approval.
If the Deed of Mandate is rejected, the Tribunal recommends the mandate be withdrawn and a new entity, such as a runanga or taumata, be established.
The Northern Advocate is awaiting comment from the new Minister of Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little.