This first week of the Marine and Coastal Area Act (MACA) Waitangi Tribunal hearings were held in Wellington from Monday 25th March to Friday 29th March 2019.
Ngātiwai were represented at these hearings by Treaty Claims Committee Chairman and Trustee for Matapouri – Aperahama Edwards, Treaty Claims Manager, Tania McPherson and our Legal Counsel, Stuart Henderson and Paula Wilson of Henderson Reeves, Whangarei. Our Ngātiwai whānau who presented their case at these hearings on behalf of their whānau and hāpu did a great job with their time in the witness stand, and upheld the mana of Ngātiwai proudly.
Ngātiwai were given the opportunity to present evidence on the Tuesday afternoon with Tania McPherson presenting our evidence with our legal counsel, and then continuing to stand to answer cross examination questions. The Ngātiwai evidence focused solely on the procedural and resourcing issues.
Ngātiwai presented a very comprehensive evidence and this was acknowledged by the Tribunal panel, and also by Crown counsel and senior staff of Te Arawhiti (formerly known as the Office of Treaty Settlements).
The procedural and resourcing issues that Ngātiwai focused on became more evident as the week progressed. A high court registrar under cross examination conceded that the High Court was clearly not prepared for the tsunami of applications that they were to receive, they had little preparation, no practice notes or guidelines. They were challenged as to whether the Crown could and should have been better prepared given other large public interest proceedings they have previously been involved in.
Other procedural issues were uncovered with senior Te Arawhiti staff conceding under cross examination that they could have done better with communicating with the effected groups.
As a result of this Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry, Te Arawhiti will undertake a review of the funding amounts and policy for High Court applications, and will contact each of the High Court MACA applicants to participate in the process.
Treaty Claims Committee Chairman, Aperahama Edwards says, “It has been a long week, but I feel we presented our case with mana for all of Ngātiwai.”
“Our Treaty Claims Manager, Tania McPherson, did a great job answering questions accurately and succinctly during her time on the stand. She did brilliantly in representing this case for our iwi.”
“I would also like to acknowledge our legal team from Henderson Reeves. Paula Wilson and Stuart Henderson have been fantastic to work with, and presented our case professionally and totally on point, as acknowledged by the Tribunal and others.”
From here, dates for closing submissions for Stage 1 of the MACA Inquiry (WAI 2660) will be announced. Ngātiwai will shortly decide if we attend the hearings for closing submissions or whether we ask our legal team to present our closing submissions at the hearings on our behalf.
Aperahama says, “Being involved in these processes comes at huge cost and time. So the iwi will consider its next steps, while being mindful of how we best use our resources and manage costs.”