Tribunal releases Mana Ahuriri Mandate Report

The Waitangi Tribunal has today released The Mana Ahuriri Mandate Report in pre-publication form. The report addresses a claim brought on behalf of the Ngāti Pārau hapū about the Crown’s acceptance of the ratification vote for the Ahuriri Hapū deed of settlement, and the proposed post-settlement governance entity – the Mana Ahuriri Trust.

In 2009, Mana Ahuriri Incorporated received a mandate from seven Ahuriri hapū to negotiate their historical claims. Negotiations were interrupted from September 2011 to February 2013 by a period of dysfunction among the komiti members. After the negotiations resumed in mid-2013, an agreement in principle was signed in December of that year, followed by the initialling of a deed of settlement in June 2015. A ratification process was then held for the deed of settlement and post-settlement governance entity, with a ratification vote taking place from 17 July 2015 to 21 August 2015.

The claimants argued that the ratification process for the deed of settlement was flawed. In particular, they claimed that the negotiating entity, Mana Ahuriri Incorporated, had lost its mandate and the Crown should not have proceeded with the settlement. In the claimants’ view, the Crown breached Treaty principles by failing to monitor the mandate sufficiently and by signing the deed of settlement despite a flawed ratification process and loss of mandate.

The hearings were held in Napier in February 2019, with closing submissions filed in May and June 2019. The Tribunal consisted of Chief Judge Wilson Isaac (presiding), Prue Kapua, Dr Grant Phillipson, and Dr Monty Soutar. In its report, the Tribunal agreed that the process was flawed and the Crown’s decision to proceed with the settlement in those circumstances was in breach of the Treaty principles of partnership and active protection. However, while the Tribunal found that the Crown was in breach of Treaty principles for accepting the ratification results for the Manu Ahuriri Trust, it did not find that the Crown’s acceptance of the deed of settlement was a breach.

The Tribunal recommended that before introducing settlement legislation, the Crown obtain an undertaking from the Mana Ahuriri Trust to hold an election for all nine trustee positions, with an independently monitored voting process. It further recommended that the Crown should pay the costs of the election.

The Tribunal made further recommendations to prevent recurrence of similar prejudice in future settlement.

The Waitangi Tribunal’s report is now available to download: The Mana Ahuriri Mandate Report [PDF, 3.7 Mb](external link)

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