Indigenous | Andrew Little

Ngāti Wai challenges Hauraki claims to Aotea-Great Barrier Island

Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Rēhua have challenged Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little to re-evaluate the Hauraki settlement on Aotea-Great Barrier Island, following the release of an independent report they commissioned which highlights fundamental gaps in the Crown's research.

Last week, representatives of Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Rēhua met the Minister for Treaty Negotiations, Andrew Little, to present the 600-page historical account of Aotea, written by Tony Walzl.

One major report finding related to a Māori Land Court decision in 1998. The report says the judgment contains multiple errors of facts that led the court to hold that Hauraki groups traditionally had interests on Aotea.

The judgment was the outcome of a case that began hearing in 1993. The claim was for the titles over ‘rocky outcrops’ and islets around Aotea that were still deemed to be customary land.

The decision awarded the customary land to Ngāti Rehua/Ngāti Wai.

In the judgment, however, the court presented a number of findings that essentially recognised that Hauraki groups traditionally had interests on Aotea before these were abandoned by 1860.

Ngāti Wai make their case

'Many errors'

Huhana Lyndon, Raukura for Ngāti Wai Trust Board, says inconsistencies, and in some cases, errors in the Crown's research had opened the door for Hauraki.

"Within the report, we see the many errors in Hauraki's assertion, that it has interests on Aotea."

"The government has grabbed onto some of the statements made in that Māori Land Court decision to justify its position, which is to hand some control of Aotea over to Hauraki."
Hauraki spokesperson Paul Majurey was unavailable to be interviewed but said no one iwi had full exclusive rights to Aotea. That was highlighted by the recent High Court decision in the case between Hauraki and Ngāti Whātua.

"Marutuahu and Pare Hauraki also have independent expert historical research confirming our customary interests at Aotea, along with Māori Land Court decisions."

"However, as the High Court recently confirmed in its decision rejecting the exclusive mana whenua claim of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the role of historians in contests over tikanga is limited."

'Our whenua'

"The reality here is that the iwi has different traditions and different tikanga. Neither is superior, they are different and reflect the respective histories of the iwi."

Ngāti Wai Trust Board chairman Aperahama Edwards disagrees with the comments.

"If someone drowns at sea, who goes to place rāhui and tapu on those areas, other than our elders."

"That is our whenua, those marae are ours. Bones that rest on Aotea are ours."

In a statement, the Minister for Treaty Negotiations, Andrew Little, said he met representatives of Ngāti Waiand Ngāti Rehua – Ngāti Wai ki Aotea on July 16 where Ngātiwai presented a research report about Aotea and asked for a re-evaluation of the redress offers to Hauraki iwi given the research.

"This has been an issue under consideration for some years. I am awaiting further advice from officials on the request.”