Topic: Treaty Settlements

Contentious results for Ngāti Wai mandate support

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Results of a vote seeking support from beneficiaries for the Ngāti Wai Trust Board to receive a mandate to settle their treaty claims remains contentious.  

Members of the Ngāti Wai Youth Committee, who spoke to Te Kāea last week, are at odds with the claim that 82% are in favour, while stats show only 772 people cast their votes and the Ngāti Wai population estimates range between 23-30,000 descendants.

Lands on the Motutara Peninsula form a part of claimant, Marie Tautari's, recent presentation to the Waitangi Tribunal, but she's angry at the thought that the mandate to settle her claim may be given to the Ngāti Wai Trust Board.

Ms Tautari is shocked that the tribunal has looked at the retrospective claims since 1985, and feels that after all this time, they're being pushed into a group that may not necessarily understand their grievances.

Only last week, the results of a vote on the mandate were released, and of the 772 people who voted, 82% supported the Ngāti Wai Trust Board receiving the said mandate. 

Ngāti Wai elder Hori Matene says, "The door is still open to the majority who didn't vote to return to the fold, because irrespective of the vote, they are Ngāti Wai, and that's what we want, and so we're pleased with the outcome."

Ms Tautari believes the Office of Treaty Settlements has been deceitful, opting instead to talk to the board.

Tuparehuia is said to be the place where the tribe's high chiefs would meet to set in place the future aspirations for the people of Ngāti Wai, and today the trust board continues to follow those goals to their fruition.

Mr Matene says, "That's not the part that's supported, it's in amongst it all, the elders have gone out among the respective communities to speak to them and meet them, and that's how you achieve understanding."

It's not a new issue in this region, but the situation with some presenting claims to the Tribunal while others seek direct negotiation, is creating even more division.

Most important to Ms Tautari is to have reports by the Tribunal identifying that these grievances are well-founded in terms of the background historical knowledge.

Mr Matene said that the board chair wants to revive and realise these aspirations and not let them linger for three years, or another 30 years, to be heard all over again.