Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement set to be major talking point at Waitangi

The long-awaited Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement is set to be a major talking point at Waitangi this year following a groundbreaking report by the Waitangi Tribunal.

The nearly 2000-page document, based on the momentous Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry, recommends the return of all Crown-owned land in Northland to Māori, and urges the Government to enter discussions with Ngāpuhi about constitutional reform.

Evidence for the inquiry was heard more than a decade ago, and lays bare the Crown's extensive Treaty breaches over the northern district.

The Tribunal said following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Crown overstepped its authority to govern Northern Māori, using aggressive military force and oppressive laws to impose sovereignty.

In the process it stripped Ngāpuhi of land, livelihoods and tino rangatiratanga, ignoring concerns about their Treaty rights being breached, and eventually locking many of them out of participating in a democracy.

"It vindicates what Ngāpuhi have been saying for a long, long time. The primary one being we have not ceded our sovereignty to anyone, particularly the Governent," Pita Tipene of Ngāti Hine said.

It recommends that the Crown enter talks with Northern Māori to potentially re-work the country's constitutional framework to one that acknowledges Ngāpuhi never ceded sovereignty.

"We expect a conversation on kāwanatanga and tino rangatiratanga," Huhana Lyndon of Ngāpuhi said.

"Governments will come and go but ultimately this report provides a platform for us."

While she does have reservations about aspects of the report, Lyndon was hopeful it was only the beginning of much stronger findings and recommendations in further reports expected to be released from the inquiry.

Ngāpuhi is yet to enter Treaty settlement negotiations, but this report provided a benchmark for potential redress.

"The tribes of Whangaroa and Whangārei were left virtually landless because of the acts and omissions of the Crown. That's been really amplified in the report," Lyndon said.

"That's a really important finding that will help the tribes in Whangārei and Whangaroa to work further on what does redress look like.

"Now we expect a conversation on kāwanatanga and tino rangatiratanga."

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said he still needed time to fully understand the report and its contents, but was open to discussing the recommendations with Ngāpuhi.

"The Crown hasn't neen prepared for any significant constitutional change but we should have a discussion with Ngāpuhi because of the findings that the tribunal have now made."

Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis agreed that grasping the report properly would take time, but was confident the Crown was up for challenging discussions, including at Waitangi this year.

"We the debate, its the appropriate place to have the debate, and we look forward to it."


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