Waitangi Tribunal turns down forest request

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 13:40 23/12/2013

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The Waitangi Tribunal has decided against making a binding recommendation for the return of Crown forest land to selected Gisborne iwi.

The Tribunal today released its report into whether the Crown should return land to the Mangatu Incorporation, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Affiliates, Nga Ariki Kaiputahi, and Te Whanau a Kai.

The Mangatu Remedies Report was the result of seperate applications by the groups.

They had asked the tribunal to make a binding recommendation for the return of Mangatu Crown forest licensed lands as a remedy for historical claims.

But the tribunal has declined, saying the precedent it would set could cause more grievances than it would solve.

"The Tribunal considered that redress, which seemed to favour one group over others, would risk creating fresh grievances and might undermine the chances of achieving a durable Treaty settlement of the claims," the tribunal said.

The claims had already been considered by the tribunal, and in its 2004 report the tribunal identified significant Crown Treaty breaches, especially loss of life and land suffered by Maori in the Turanga (Gisborne) district.

In May 2011, the Supreme Court directed the tribunal to hear the Mangatu Incorporation's application for remedy of a claim that concerned the Crown's 1961 purchase from the Incorporation of 8522 acres of land.

Following that, the three other groups lodged similar applications in respect of their own claims.  

But in today's report, the tribunal said further negotiations with the Crown would be the preferred way to reach settlement.

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