The Waitangi Tribunal has released a report on the Ngātiwai Mandate claims. It finds that the Crown breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi when it recognised the mandate of the Ngātiwai Trust Board to enter into settlement negotiations with the Crown on behalf of Ngātiwai.
The claims mainly came from hāpu and whānau groups who alleged the Crown had recognised a mandate that hāpu had not consented to, and that this undermined their rangatiratanga."
"The central theme for inquiry was whether the Crown recognised the mandate of the Ngātiwai Trust Board without ascertaining whether the hapū included in the mandate had given their support and consent to the trust board," the report says.
"Although neither the Crown nor the Waitangi Tribunal has previously maintained that hapū consent is a requirement to achieve a mandate, where hapū play a central role in the social and political life of their communities the Crown has obligations to ensure hapū can determine how and by whom they will be represented in settlement negotiations. They must be allowed to make decisions according to their tikanga."
The Tribunal finds that the Crown failed to fulfil its duty of active protection of hapū tino rangatiratanga and in so doing breached the Treaty principles of partnership and equal treatment.
"The opportunity must be taken now to address the issues we have identified so that Ngātiwai and the hapū named in the Deed of Mandate can move together to settlement.
"We do not, in the first instance recommend that the mandate be withdrawn. Rather, what is required is a pause in the negotiations process so that the following matters can be attended to:
"We recommend a process of mediation or facilitated discussions to debate and seek agreed and acceptable solutions to the problems we have identified. If agreement is reached on a way forward, then the Crown’s support will be required for any changes proposed so that the Deed of Mandate can be amended and re-submitted to the parties, including the hapū listed in the deed, for approval."
The Tribunal says that if the amended Deed of Mandate should be rejected, it recommends withdrawal of the mandate and the setting up of a new entity such as a rūnanga or taumata, named and organised more inclusively and able to represent all hapū and groups in the inquiry district, whether or not they are Ngātiwai.