The Waitangi Tribunal

Who would have thought 30 years ago that settlements would now be being made between the crown and iwi. Now those settlements are inadequate, they don’t address all that needs to be addressed. But no one would of envisaged they would happen 30 years ago. I think the Waitangi Tribunal, particularly the work it did in the early years when Eddie Durie was Chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal, provided a bridge to understanding for New Zealanders about our very rich heritage, our rich legal heritage and the terrible things that were done. (Translated from te reo to English.) New Zealand is searching for redress for the dreadful ills of our history here. Therefore, that’s a ‘pat on the back’. And I do think that it’s important for both Māori and the Crown to understand why they’re entering into Treaty settlements. (Translated from te reo to English.) They don’t understand the reason why we must seek those types of settlements. It’s been so great to be part of the generation that started making the settlements. You know I’m just, otherwise we’d still be in such distress I think, it’s kind of an emotional distress to live with the generations of discrimination by those who were in power. (Translated from te reo to English.) Now part of the work of the Tribunal is for the hearings to travel from town to town. Pākehā never turn up because, as far as they concerned it’s just business between the Māori and the Crown. By settling an allegation which they’ve agreed is justified, that the Crown breached the Treaty of Waitangi, they are enabling both the Crown and Māori to get over that breakdown in the past. The settlement process is nearing completion on the historical claims but the contemporary claims which also have come through from time to time and the tribunal has heard are clearly going to have to continue. And it seems to me that when the treaty settlements are over the next step in the Treaty journey, because the Treaty like the Magna Carta will not go away and so the next step in the Treaty journey for me is how do we actually honour that relationship.

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