May 15, 2017
Judge steps aside from Ngati Kahu hearing
The chair of the panel hearing Te Runanga o Ngati Kahu’s remedies application says he will step down because he doesn’t want to cause any delay in the tribe’s settlement.
The runanga wants the tribunal to order the crown to hand over land and forest assets in its far north rather than wait for a negotiated settlement.
It asked Maori Land Court Judge Stephen Clark to step down because he chaired a 2013 panel that refused to make binding orders and instead recommended the crown offer Ngati Kahu a $42 million settlement and the return of 21 cultural redress properties.
On appeal the High Court said the tribunal was wrong to treat binding recommendations as a remedy of last resort and that it had failed to consider whether it was appropriate to make binding recommendations for parts of the inquiry area which were not subject to overlapping claims.
Judge Clark said the allegations by Ngati Kahu that he could not be impartial in the hearing had no substance.
The tribunal’s original findings were robust, including its criticism of the way Ngati Kahu split from the Te Hiku Forum.
But if he stayed on, there is a distinct possibility that decision might be judicially reviewed and subsequently appealed.
Copyright © 2017, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com