A Ngti Whtua rkei hkoi on Tuesday will go from rkei marae to Auckland High Court. Photo / FileHundreds are expected to join a Ngti Whtua rkei hkoi as the Auckland hap asserts its land rights in the High Court.
Tomorrow from 6am, hap members and supports will hkoi from rkei marae to Auckland High Court, where the hap begins its case against the Crown to challenge its approach to the rights of mana whenua in their rohe (territory).
Ngti Whtua rkei Trust deputy chair Ngarimu Blair said the hkoi was a chance to demonstrate their opposition to the Crown’s practices of giving land in their “heartland”, the Auckland CBD, to “tribes domiciled elsewhere”.
“The hikoi is a walk to the High Court, past Judge’s Bay an old Pã site called Taurarua and Waipapa in Parnell, a former fishing village of Ngati Whatua.
“We are heading to court to challenge the Crown’s proposals to give these two sites to a collective of iwi from Hauraki/Thames region to settle their Treaty grievances.
“We do not agree that land from [the] heartland should be given to iwi from elsewhere without our express permission. To do so will breach tikanga Mori or Lore and Law.
“So we are walking to court as a big family, so everyone can participate and bring the thoughts of our ancestors before we begin our 10-week trial.”
Blair said their case was to stop the Crown using land within their rohe as compensation for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti) of other iwi.
“We object to the Crown offering tribes whose homelands, heartlands, are well away from the city centre, even down in Thames.
“We object in that it is not correct regarding Mori custom, Mori tenure and not legal as the Crown signed the Treaty with us.”
Blair said the current situation had created “a nonsense” which saw their voice forced to compete with the voices of up to 18 other iwi and hap on engagement and developments on what they saw as their lands and harbours.
“Often developments we can see from our marae. We say our strength of relation to the CBD central is stronger than others, and in some cases some have no relation, yet the Crown invites all of them into meetings and resource consent processes without testing those strengths.”
On March 20, 1840, chief Te Kawau and others signed the Treaty of Waitangi and by September, the British flagstaff was raised at what is now the top of Queen St, Auckland, becoming the country’s capital.
The hap sold about 1214ha (3000 acres) to the Crown for a township to be established for £341.
Six months later, just 18ha (44 acres) of that land was resold to settlers for £24,275.
The money was used to build roads, bridges, hospitals and other services for the new town, and hence the early development of Auckland was essentially paid for by profits made from the sale of Ngti Whtua rkei’s land.
Much of the land passed over to the Crown was done voluntarily, and in good faith. But the Crown did not act in good faith.
By the mid 1900s the hap had but a quarter acre of land remaining.
The hap reached its settlement with the Crown over breaches of the Treaty in November 2011.
It included $18 million (including $2m through the Railways Settlement in 1993) commercial redress, various forms of cultural redress, and an apology. The hap’s net wealth had since grown to well over $1 billion.
The Crown acknowledged at the time its actions had left the hap “virtually landless”.
“This state of landlessness has had devastating consequences for the social, cultural, economic, spiritual and physical wellbeing of Ngti Whtua rkei that continue to be felt today.”
The Waitangi Tribunal’s 1987 report was even more blunt.
“A proud and loyal tribe that supported Auckland and the Crown, was through the connivance of both made virtual refugees, a disillusioned, scattered and landless people.
“If we have any understanding of the Mori attachment to tribe, home and place, only the most insensitive could fail to appreciate the enormity of Ngti Whtua’s loss, or the latent danger in the legacy of bitterness and anger that was theirs to inherit. For this is also a tribe that has refused to die.”
This week’s court proceedings follow a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that raised serious concerns with the Hauraki-Maruthu offers and a subsequent December 2019 Waitangi Tribunal report that was critical of the Crown and the Hauraki-Maruthu collective redress, Blair said.