A pōwhiri for the hearings took place on Sunday 7th April at Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt and the hearings began on Monday 8th April.
The Board’s representatives, witnesses and supporters including our whānau from Aotea, attended the hearings at Waiwhetu Marae in unison. Whānau based in Wellington also attended in support. Ngātiwai presented a very strong presence at the hearings together with Ngāti Manuhiri.
Kiri Tahana from Kahui Legal set the stage for Ngātiwai witnesses with compelling opening submissions. Ngātiwai Trustee for Matapouri Aperahama Edwards and Ngātiwai Chairman Haydn Edmonds were cross-examined and at the last minute the Crown and counsel for Hauraki chose not to cross-examine Ngātiwai Treaty Claims Manager Tania McPherson.
Treaty Claims Committee Chairman, Aperahama Edwards says, “It was great to have the Ngātiwai presence seen and heard, we really appreciated the tautoko from our whānau in Wellington and from across the motu that were able to attend."
“Going through these two hearings simultaneously has had huge impact on our Board and our wider iwi.”
“The time, effort and costs that has gone into defending our Mana is huge, but we cannot sit back and watch our Mana Moana and Mana Whenua be given away by the Crown without anyone having a conversation with us on our marae first.”
“So we had to travel, we had to fight this injustice and we had to defend the Mana of our people.”
“We would like to thank Kiri and all the team from Kahui legal who presented our case so professionally and ensured that the mana of our iwi was upheld.”
The timetable for the hearings was constantly changing up to and throughout the hearings but live-streaming links to the hearings were provided on a daily basis for claimants and was also screened at the Trust Board's offices.
Although the kaupapa was not a happy one feedback received included:
• Ngātiwai has the strongest case both in terms of poor Crown process and severity of redress, particularly on Aotea.
• Ngātiwai and Ngāti Manuhiri provided a united front with our legal counsels tag teaming in the cross-examination.
• The Crown admitted it had made a number of mistakes in relation to the Ngātiwai involvement in the overlapping claims processes.
• The Tribunal’s questioning of the witnesses demonstrated it was alive to the Ngātiwai case.
• Claimants closing submissions are due on 8th May 2019
• Crown and interested parties closing submissions are due on 5th June 2019.
• Claimants reply submissions are then due on 17th June 2019.
• The Tribunal's report is likely to take several months to complete given the complexity of the claimants cases.