National | Andrew Little

Crown to speed up Takutai Moana engagement with applicants

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Crown engagement with Takutai Moana applicants is too slow and needs to be sped up, Treaty Minister Andrew Little said in a statement Saturday.

“At the pace we’ve been going, it would take approximately 100 years to fully determine all applications. That is clearly unacceptable. The new approach seeks to engage all 387 applications within a quarter of this timeframe.”

Minister Little said the change in approach had been prompted by feedback from applicants.

“The new Takutai Moana Crown Engagement Strategy is a result of listening to applicant feedback that one-by-one engagement is too slow for the volume and complexity of applications that need to be decided."

He said the new strategy aims to achieve "fair, transparent and timely" determination of applications for recognition of customary marine title and protected customary rights or activities under the Act.

"Under the new strategy the Crown will engage with all iwi, hapū, and whānau groups across 20 coastal areas to timeframes informed by applicants.”

Where the continued existence of customary interests is established by the evidence, he said they can be recognised by the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations or the High Court and given legal effect.

“Engagement will be collaborative and focus on building an understanding of the relevant tikanga, preparing the historical research and evidence needed to meet the legal tests for recognition, and on working through shared or overlapping interests.

“A number of applicants have applied through both pathways, but the choice of pathway should not advantage or disadvantage any group. The two pathways need to align better in terms of support for applicants and the work that needs to be done. The Crown needs to work with applicants in good faith, in a way that builds strong relationships.”

Crown engagement will start over the coming months, he said.