Lodging the Ngāi Tahu Claim with the Waitangi Tribunal

Aug 26, 2017

The Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board elected from 1986 – 1989. Back Row (from left to right): Monty Daniels, David Higgins, Bill Solomon, Kuao Langsbury, James Mason Russell. Front Row (from left to right): Sid Ashton (Secretary), Maria Tini, Tipene O’Regan (Chairman), Henare Rakiihia Tau.

On this day in 1986 the Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board, in the name of Henare Rakiihia Tau, lodged the Ngāi Tahu Claim with the Waitangi Tribunal.

Although the Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 the Tribunal were only able to investigate breaches made by the Crown in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi that occurred since the Tribunal’s establishment. It wasn’t until 1985 that the Tribunal’s jurisdiction was extended to hear claims about any alleged breach of the Treaty since 1840.

While the Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board was preparing its submission to the Tribunal, the new Government at the time introduced the 1986 State Owned Enterprises Bill. Concerned that the Government may use the Bill to make assets unavailable for any potential settlement with Ngāi Tahu in the future, the Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board filed the claim to the Waitangi Tribunal on 26 August 1986.

Over the following year and a half the Trust Board made seven further amendments to this statement of claim that set out the Ngāi Tahu grievances arising from the 19th century land purchases and the lack of reserves provided by the Crown, and the loss of access to mahinga kai.

It was this statement of claim and the forward thinking of the Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board that began the formal process with the Waitangi Tribunal that would culminate in passing of the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act in 1998, 12 years after the claim was lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal.