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‘Rights denied’: Wairarapa Moana takes on the Crown

Wairarapa Moana Incorporation says the Crown has denied the group a right to a hearing by including them in a treaty settlement with Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua.

Now, Wairarapa Moana Incorporation – which says it represents “shareholders and descendants of the original owners of Wairarapa Moana” – is seeking a clear judgment from the High Court on the way the Bill of Rights Act and other provisions apply to their situation.

In its statement of claim, the group is asking the High Court to rule that the declaration of the Ngaati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua Claims Settlement Act, and settling of the Wai 85 claim, is inconsistent with section 23 [3] of the Bill of Rights, as well as sections of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.

The pertinent section of the Bill of Rights reads: “Every person has the right to bring civil proceedings against, and to defend civil proceedings brought by, the Crown, and to have those proceedings heard, according to law, in the same way as civil proceedings between individuals.”

Incorporation chair Kingi Smiler said it was hard to take the recent apology by the Crown to Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua seriously when “all they do is actively and deliberately perpetuate the cycle of Maori grievance to suit their own agenda”.

He said the Bill of Rights outlines a right to justice, which had been denied through Wairarapa Moana’s inclusion in the settlement. “And when that has just been squashed when you have your own court saying that has a right to be heard – both the Supreme Court and the Waitangi Tribunal – that’s why we say it is a very callous and unjust approach that the government have taken,” Smiler said.

“They [the Crown] are acting as the judge and jury on the whole thing.”

Smiler said that if the ruling is in the incorporation’s favour, it would support the notion the Crown did not act appropriately and that Wairarapa Moana’s claims should be reconsidered.

“It’s not a question of opening up the settlement again; it’s about reconsidering our claims specifically as opposed to changing the current settlement.”

Before the settlement was ratified, Wairarapa Moana had been seeking the direct return of the Pouakani land in the central North Island through a resumption order [a binding recommendation power the Waitangi Tribunal can exercise over former State-Owned Enterprise lands].

Mercury Energy’s Maraetai hydropower station currently occupies the site.

Smiler said a Supreme Court judgement in December cleared the way for the Waitangi Tribunal to determine whether some of that land should be returned.

However, the possible return of the land was quashed when the Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua Claims Settlement Act was ratified.

“They did this with the full knowledge that Wairarapa Moana had resumed their legal proceedings with the Waitangi Tribunal,” Smiler said.

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little said because the matter is before the courts, it is not appropriate to comment.


  1. That would be Mercury’s Maraetai hydropower station currently occupies the site and not Meridian Energy’s.

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Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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