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United Nations Backs Nelson Māori Trust Land Claim

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Further support for a Nelson Māori Trust's stalled Treaty claim has been given by The United Nations Human Rights Committee during its final session with the New Zealand Government.

The UN Committee criticised the New Zealand Government's failure to negotiate with Nelson's Te Kāhui Ngahuru Trust.

The comments were made following New Zealand's regular four-yearly report to the Committee on compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee last week expressed concern about the failed negotiations and the Government's refusal to negotiate with Nelson Māori group Te Kāhui Ngahuru.

Te Kāhui Ngahuru Trust represents WAI56 claimants who descend from the 254 original Māori owners of Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay.

UN Committee member Rajsoomer Lallah, a human rights expert from Mauritius said even though Te Kāhui Ngahuru Trust remained dissatisfied with the terms of settlement, the Government intended to go forward and enact it into law. In light of this, Mr Lallah urged the Government to consider further negotiations, rather than merely "clinching the deal".

The Committee noted that the Government should ensure that the views expressed by different Māori groups during consultations in the context of the historical Treaty claims process are duly taken into account.

The Trust seeks redress for injustices arising from inadequate land reserves known as the "Tenths", Crown mismanagement of the Tenths Reserves and the imposition of perpetual leases which has severely affected land values. These issues caused severe economic, cultural and social hardship for the original owners and their descendents.

Te Kāhui Ngahuru Trust Chairman James Wheeler said the United Nations Human Rights Committee's comments showed the New Zealand Government was an international embarrassment for its failure to resolve WAI56 issues.

Media Release, Page Two - 31 March 2010 "Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson tells us that the Crown's policy is to negotiate comprehensive settlements only with Iwi.

So what they're trying to do is give compensation to a wider group of our relatives, but not us, and that's wrong. This is a clear and direct breach of the Treaty and should be negotiated as a separate issue with the direct descendents."

"For instance, if your house was taken from you and 100 years later the Government said, 'oops! sorry we took your house', and then gave it back to someone else who was distantly related to you from another town, would you think that wrong? I do."

Mr Wheeler said that while Minister Finlayson was still refusing to talk to Te Kāhui Ngahuru, there are plenty of precedents where the Minister has negotiated with hapu and whanau.

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