Christmas comes early for two iwi Waitangi Tribunal claimants

A small victory for a group of Maori
claimants at the Court of Appeal could see the Waitangi Tribunal
make binding recommendations on the Crown for the first time
in its history. Wirangi Pera of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki
was part of a group who challenged the tribunal to enforce the Crown to return Maori land
to its rightful owners. Tamati Rimene-Sproat reports. Christmas has come early for
Wirangi Pera and his tribe. We have waited a long time
for this to be settled. More than 50 years
we have been trying to settle this. Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki are partied
to the Mangatu binding recommendation claim, who,
along with Ngati Kahu, have had their claims sent back
to the Waitangi Tribunal. At the moment the tribunal
are not doing their job. They are sitting on the fence and leaving it to the crown
to deal with. But now the courts have insisted
that they do their job. The Crown’s bid to overturn
previous high court decisions relating to the outstanding claims, were dismissed by the
Court of Appeal earlier this week. The hope is we will complete
the work of our ancestors right down to today. Under current law,
the Waitangi Tribunal has the power to return state owned enterprise
properties and Crown forest land to Maori if Maori land alienation
claims have been upheld. There are two roads,
return the land to Maori – or not return the land to Maori and
give it to the crown. That is it. The Mangatu forest blocks outside
of Gisborne span over 8000 acres. Pera is hoping
Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki lands, who have interest in area,
will be returned to his people. If we look at the month
that is coming, our organiser Willie Te Aho
has prepared so that we hui on January 15 and we will
lay down all that we need to. A spokesperson for the
Attorney-General, Chris Finalyson, says he is currently considering
the recent judgement and has no further comment
at this time. Tamati Rimene-Sproat, Te Karere.

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