October 13, 2015
Crown tries to silence Maori judges
The crown doesn’t want the Waitangi Tribunal to read what Maori Land Court judges have to say about a major rewrite of Maori land law.
The tribunal asked to formally see the judges’ 163-page demolition of the draft Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill after a copy posted on the Waatenews.com website was discussed at pre-hearing conference.
As part of the preparations for next month’s urgent hearing of a claim against the reform process, Crown Law has given the tribunal copies of the other submissions on the so called exposure draft.
But it wants more time to argue against the judges’ submission becoming part of the official record.
It says there are issues conflict of interest and bias, in that the tribunal panel would need to weight the evidence of judges who would preside over other inquiries that members are part of.
It also claims it could be inappropriate for claimant lawyers to cross-examine judges.
The judges, who work with the present law on a daily basis, have been excluded from the inquiry panel, which is headed by barrister and historian Ron Crosby.
Their submission says the proposed reform will undermine the property rights of Maori landowners, transfer authority over Maori land to Crown officials, contravene fundamental elements of tikanga Maori, and make the process of dealing with Maori land far more complicated for owners.
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