Waitangi Tribunal celebrates 40th anniversary

By Ripeka Timutimu

Chief Judge of the Waitangi Tribunal says despite iwi settling their treaty claims, the Tribunal will still play a crucial role in the Crown and Māori relationship.

Chief Judge, Wilson Isaac says, “We are evolving and have since 1975, so we will continue to evolve and continue to do things better for the Māori/Crown relationship.”

The Tribunal was set up by former Māori Affairs Minister, Matiu Rata and its members include some of Māoridom's sharpest legal minds including Sir Taihakurei Durie and Judge Karen Wickliffe, but Isaac says it’s the claimants that have given worth to their work.

“It’s the people that tell their stories and establish their claims against the Crown that it is challenging, many of the stories are very heartfelt and they go to the very depth of their mamae against the Crown,” explained Isaac.

Hauata Palmer from Ngāi Te Rangi is the newest member to the group and will sit alongside academics such as Professor Sir Hirini Moko Mead.

With the Tribunal in good hands, it’s hoped it can facilitate a continuing relationship between Māori and the Crown.