It was only a matter of time before claimants would try to take action against the government alleging the treaty settlement process is flawed, divides tribes, and causes fighting within tribes.
Wellington-based lawyer Moana Sinclair visited Taranaki this week to offer claimants the opportunity to support a class action lawsuit against the Crown that includes claims from Rangitane o Manawatu and Deirdre Nehua, the widow of far-left activist Syd Jackson. Sinclair said five Taranaki sub-tribes had expressed interest in supporting the lawsuit.
Hori Manuirirangi, of South Taranaki group Ngati Tu, said they would be joining the class action lawsuit because:
Government forced Ngaruahine to create a new body to receive its $67.5 million treaty settlement.That body did not represent all hapu. The process is usurping the mana of our marae and of our hapu. They are making iwi elect a body that doesn't actually represent everyone. They will be signing with the wrong group.Sinclair said such feelings were echoed across the country and the Crown's handling of the Treaty of Waitangi settlements forced tribes into a position where they had processes imposed on them. She described it as a growing national, multi-tribal Maori voice which is saying the treaty settlement process is unjust.
Sinclair said Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia had intervened on Treaty settlements in Manawatu because members of the tribe complained that the Crown was not talking to the right people.
In June this year Glen Skipper, the chairman of the Ngati Tawhirikura sub-tribe of Te Atiawa, urged the tribe to vote against the creation of the new body, Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust, that would receive and control the $87-million promised to the tribe. He was ignored and the trust was created.
I heard a similar complaint at the select committee hearing of the Treelords settlement at Wairakei in 2007. Some claimants told the select committee that the mandate to receive settlement proceeds had gone to people unknown to the tribe.
Meanwhile, a Far North claimant has challenged the way the Government reaches treaty settlements, saying they're achieved by breaching the Treaty of Waitangi. (2)
Te Kawehau Hoskins, of Ngati Hau hapu, has filed evidence as part of the Wai 1040 Northland case, known as Te Paparahi o Te Raki regional inquiry, made up of 390 claims, arguing that the settlement process doesn't reflect a treaty based approach because it's dictated by the Crown without consultation or involvement of Maori.
Suggesting the Government is then both judge and jury of its own process, Dr Hoskins says the settlement process should instead be guided by the treaty and ensure a partnership approach.
Looks like in his haste to get the job done, Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson is facing sharper opposition from disaffected claimants than from the disaffected excluded silent majority.
Treaty settlements 'dividing iwi', http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9392712/Treaty-settlements-dividing-iwi
2. Treaty settlement process flawed - claimant, Radio NZ, November 15, 2013. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/227871/treaty-settlement-process-flawed-claimant