March 01, 2017
Crown held to account on reserves
Nelson Maori have welcomed a Supreme Court finding the Crown owed fiduciary duties to the owners of Maori customary land in Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay.
It’s the first time the New Zealand courts have made such a determination, and it allows the descendants to hold the crown accountable for the loss of their land in a way that is outside the treaty settlement process.
The original landowners sold just over 150,000 acres to the New Zealand Company in 1839, with the condition they would keep their existing pa, cultivation sites and urupa as well as 10 percent of the settlement land.
When the crown took over the role of trustee from the company in 1840, it only reserved 5100 acres, and allowed much of that to be lost over the next century.
The crown said it was acting in a political capacity, but the court ruled there was overwhelming evidence on the historical record it dealt with the reserve land as a trustee.
Kaumatua Rore Pat Stafford, who brought the claim on behalf of the customary owners, says the land issue was kept alive for generations, and he is delighted with the result.
It’s now up to the High Court to determine the extent of the losses the Maori landowners suffered as a result of the Crown’s actions.
Copyright © 2017, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com