December 13, 2022
Dam case to be snuffed in forced settlement
The Waitangi Tribunal has expressed its concern the Government intends to push ahead with extinguishing a claim to a Waikato River hydro dam – despite a finding from the Supreme Court that it should take its course.
Over the objections of claimants, WAI 85, covering the Wairarapa Moana Incorporation’s claim to land under the Maraetai Power Station, was included in the Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui a Rua Claims Settlement Bill which is up for third reading today.
The land was part of a block around Mangakino which was given to the Ngati Kahungunu owners as a forced swap for Lake Wairarapa, and then taken off them for the power project.
Last week the Supreme Court overruled a High Court ruling and said the incorporation should be able to pursue its resumption claim to have the land returned under the State Owned Enterprises Act, even though they were not tangata whenua of the area.
TVNZ reports that in a memorandum released after a judicial conference yesterday, Judge Carrie Wainwright, who heads the tribunal panel dealing with the claim, said claimants were extremely disappointed the Government is not prepared to allow the tribunal to give effect to the Supreme Court’s judgment.
She said in the past the Crown has allowed claimants to pursue their legal rights, even where that conflicted with a Government’s desire to reach a treaty settlement.
The case is being compared to the Foreshore and Seabed Act, which overturned a judgment of the Court of Appeal that Ngati APa could go back to the Maori Land Court for a decision on customary title to part of the Marlboroughj Sounds.