Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill

  • enacted

Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill

Government Bill

36—2

As reported from the Māori Affairs Committee

Commentary

Recommendation

The Māori Affairs Committee has examined the Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill and recommends that it be passed. We recommend all amendments unanimously.

Introduction

This bill gives effect to the Deed of Settlement signed by the Crown and Ngāti Maru to settle all historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. The area of interest for the iwi is centred on the inland Waitara River Valley, and extends from Taranaki Maunga in the west to the upper Whanganui River in the east.

The bill includes a summary of the historical background to the claims, including the erosion of tribal structures, landlessness, and socio-economic deprivation. The bill also provides for acknowledgements and a Crown apology, which are set out in both English and te reo Māori.

The Deed of Settlement includes financial and commercial redress, which is not specified in the bill, of $30 million and the right to purchase 36 properties.

Legislative scrutiny

As part of our consideration of the bill, we have examined its consistency with principles of legislative quality. We have no issues regarding the legislation’s design to bring to the attention of the House.

Proposed amendments

This commentary covers the main amendments we recommend to the bill as introduced. We do not discuss all minor or technical amendments.

Administration of riverbed within the Whanganui River catchment area

Clauses 57, 58, and 59 provide for the transfer of three properties that are public conservation land within the Whanganui River catchment area. One of these properties is to be transferred as shared redress with Ngāti Hāua. These sites may contain riverbed owned by Te Awa Tupua (the legal personality that comprises the Whanganui River), but are administered and managed by the Department of Conservation. Te Awa Tupua-owned riverbed would not be transferred with the surrounding land, as the Crown no longer owns it.

Following the bill’s introduction to the House, Te Arawhiti sought the views of Ngāti Maru and other interested groups on how the riverbed would be administered and managed post-settlement.

We have been advised that Ngāti Maru, Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui (the post-settlement governance entity for the Whanganui River settlement), Te Pou Tupua (the “human face” of Te Awa Tupua), and Ngāti Hāua have agreed that it would no longer be appropriate for the Department of Conservation to administer and manage any riverbed running through these sites. Instead, Te Pou Tupua should assume those responsibilities, to which Te Pou Tupua has agreed. We recommend amending the bill to give effect to this agreement.

Resource consent process

The bill would require the trustees of Ngāti Maru and the Taranaki Regional Council to create a joint management agreement for matters relating to the Waitara River and its catchment area. Clause 87 sets out the process for considering specified resource consent applications under the joint management agreement.

Clause 87(1)(b) also states that the clause would apply to specified resource consent applications made to territorial authorities. In its submission, the New Plymouth District Council sought clarification of its intended role under the joint management agreement.

Although the drafting of clause 87 accurately reflects the equivalent drafting in the Deed of Settlement, Ngāti Maru have agreed that the joint management agreement was only intended to apply to applications for resource consent between the Taranaki Regional Council and Ngāti Maru. Reference to territorial authorities in clause 87 was made in error. Accordingly, we recommend amending the bill to accurately reflect the agreed intention of the joint management agreement.

Other matters we considered

Apart from the above amendments, the main matters we considered were as follows.

Removal of resumptive memorials in Taranaki

A resumptive memorial is a notation on the title of certain properties. It notifies any owners that the Waitangi Tribunal may make a binding recommendation to the Crown to purchase the property and then return it to Māori ownership, if there are well-founded claims.

The bill as introduced would remove the memorials on land pertaining to Ngāti Maru’s settlement redress. It would also remove the Waitangi Tribunal’s jurisdiction to order resumption in favour of Ngāti Maru.

We understand that it is Crown policy to remove all remaining resumptive memorials on land in a region once historical Waitangi Tribunal claims have been settled through legislation. Ngāti Maru is the last iwi in the Taranaki region to settle their historical Treaty claims.

Te Arawhiti advised us that it was considering whether to amend the bill to remove other resumptive memorials within fully settled areas of the Taranaki region. However, as this was not considered or discussed with Ngāti Maru prior to the Deed of Settlement being signed, Te Arawhiti has concluded it would be more appropriate to remove the memorials at a later time. We support this approach.

Appendix

Committee process

The Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill was referred to the committee on 6 July 2021.

The closing date for submissions on the bill was 18 August 2021. We received and considered 35 submissions from interested groups and individuals. We heard oral evidence from 8 submitters.

We received advice on the bill from Te Arawhiti. The Office of the Clerk provided advice on the bill’s legislative quality. The Parliamentary Counsel Office assisted with legal drafting.

Committee membership

Tāmati Coffey (Chairperson)

Paul Eagle

Shanan Halbert

Harete Hipango

Joseph Mooney

Teanau Tuiono

Rawiri Waititi

Arena Williams