The fight for Auckland tribe Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to be able to seek judicial review over a proposed land transfer has reached the Supreme Court.
"In 2014 we became aware that the Crown were going to transfer a number of properties to Hauraki tribes that we regard within our heartland," Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust deputy chairman Ngarimu Blair told the Herald ahead of the court hearing in Wellington this morning.
The Crown proposed to transfer the land out of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei's boundary to the Marutūahu Collective, despite the fact Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei had settled its Treaty claims two years earlier, Blair said.
"[We] had thought that that settlement also acknowledged our tikanga or custom over our ancestral lands and how decisions are made in regards to those lands.
"The concerned land in central Auckland is where our people for centuries have lived, fished, worked, played, and it's where our people continue to do that."
Two busloads and half a plane full of tribe members have arrived from Auckland this morning to represent Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei at the hearing, and "stand up for the voices of their ancestors, and to say to the Crown 'no more, we won't be walked all over anymore'."
"Since 2014 we have been trying to access the courts to test the extent of our legal rights we believe that we have, stemming from our Treaty settlement in 2012, however the previous government and unfortunately now this one is blocking access to the courts so that we cannot have that clarified."
Today's hearing is to decide whether the Court of Appeal erred in upholding the High Court's decision to strike out Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei's claim for judicial review in relation to the land transfer, and whether decisions made by the Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations are reviewable.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei believes that in transferring the land the Crown ignored the role of the hapū as mana whenua in central Auckland and that this should have been a consideration when the Crown developed the Marutūahu Collective settlement deals.
It is also seeking recognition of its own Treaty settlement with the Crown in 2012, and its belief that tikanga is a part of common law.
Lawyer for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Jack Hodder QC, told the Supreme Court his clients had a right not to have their mana whenua, or territorial rights, disregarded.
He said they also had a right not to have land in their rohe, or boundary, transferred without the proper processes being followed.
Both of these rights were at issue in this case, he said.
"There has already been a disregard of the rights asserted in relation to the land in question."
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei sought to find out what the law of New Zealand was in relation to their claim.
"Two courts have said 'no, you can't find that out, this is not available to you, you can't have access to the courts to get the answer to that question'."