Taranaki Whanui continues Ngati Toa fight

Taranaki Whanui with recognised treaty rights in a strip around Wellington Harbour say the Crown is betraying their settlement in its dealings with Ngati Toa.

It sets up perpetual conflict over who exercises ultimate power because of a lack of consultation and discussion, Taranaki Whanui’s lawyer Phillip Green said in the High Court at Wellington today.

But the judge hearing the case, Justice Joe Williams, a former chair of the Waitangi Tribunal, said they had been fighting over it for generations and he doubted that discussions would have meant everyone would have “walked away happy”.

Taranaki Whanui failed to stop the Crown and Ngati Toa initialling a deed of settlement in August but have gone to court asserting the right to be consulted over parts of the Ngati Toa negotiations in which they say they have an interest.

The settlement is still to be finalised.

They are particularly concerned that the 2.5ha Taputeranga Island at Island Bay, Wellington, is to be vested in Ngati Toa.

The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust is the governance body for the Taranaki Whanui settlement and has taken action against the Attorney-General and Ngati Toa.

Mr Green said the case was deeply regretted but its treaty partner, the Crown, had betrayed the 2009 settlement before the ink barely had time to dry upon it.

Mr Green said when Taranaki Whanui were negotiating with the Crown it altered its position to take account of overlapping Ngati Toa claims but now the terms of its settlement had changed because of the Crown’s need to settle with Ngati Toa.

Where Ngati Toa had six months to review the proposed Taranaki settlement Taranaki Whanui was given just days to review Ngati Toa's.

Taranaki Whanui had a direct interest in the area with 300 sites of cultural importance in the block as at 1840 and Ngati Toa used the area without having pa, urupa or cultivated land.

But the Crown was proposing to give Ngati Toa cultural acknowledgement in relation marine interests, Taputeranga Island and the Hutt River and its tributaries which offended against Taranaki Whanui’s acknowledged exclusivity, Mr Green said.

The hearing is expected to last two days.

The Dominion Post