Crown Prepares to Negotiate Turangi Claim

  • Doug Graham
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

The Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Hon D.A.M. Graham, said today the Government will carefully consider the Waitangi Tribunal's remedies report on the Turangi township claim.

In 1995 the Tribunal reported on the claim and found the Crown had seriously breached its obligations to Ngati Turangitukua. Negotiations between Ngati Turangitukua and the Crown were unsuccessful.

'The remedies report, issued today, is the first time the Tribunal has made interim binding recommendations for the resumption of properties subject to Section 27B of the State-Owned Enterprise Act.

'As such it is very much a test case,' Mr Graham said.

The Tribunal recommended that the Crown compulsorily resume 15 memorialised properties valued at $3.2 million for transfer to the claimants, Ngati Turangitukua. The Tribunal also made non-binding recommendations for $3.9 million of Crown property and cash.

The interim recommendations, which will not be confirmed for 90 days, give the Crown and Ngati Turangitukua till 5 October to negotiate a settlement.

'These negotiations may change the mix of properties that will be resumed,' Mr Graham said.

'If the parties do not agree to a settlement, then after the 90-day negotiation period ends, the Tribunal's recommendations for resumption of those properties that have memorials registered against title will become binding on the Crown.

'Once the recommendations become binding, the Minister of Lands will notify owners of properties to be resumed that their property will be acquired under the Public Works Act at market valuation and costs.

'All properties not owned by the Crown which are subject to today's interim recommendations have memorials on the Certificates of Title clearly showing that the land may be needed for Treaty settlements.'

The memorial system was established by the last Labour Government in 1988 after the Court of Appeal found that the Crown had an obligation to protect Maori interests during the creation of State-Owned Enterprises.

The memorials stay on the titles when SOEs sell land, so that the Tribunal's powers extend to land that SOEs have on-sold to private parties.

'Anyone who buys a former SOE property will therefore be aware that the Tribunal can require the Crown to purchase the property at market value for return to Maori,' Mr Graham said.