In 2007, Te Runanga o Ngati Porou (TRONP) devised a postal ballot for its beneficiaries to obtain a mandate to enter into treaty settlement negotiations. The Chairman Api Mahuika also a claimant for and on behalf of himself and TRONP (Wai 272), mislead the voter via a letter included with the ballot paper into believing a majority of East Coast claims where Ngati Porou. This was wrong as 80 out of 100 claims registered at that time were not.
In short, 3,000 beneficiaries blindly supported TRONP. Mr. Mahuika now purports to have the mandate on behalf of 72,000 “Ngati Porou” to settle “all historical treaty claims” including Ruawaipu claims without the informed consent of Ruawaipu claimants. The facts are that no voter had any knowledge of Ruawaipu claims. Furthermore, Ruawaipu are not Ngati Porou.
The Crown who funded TRONP $900,000 to obtain a mandate have now offered a settlement and intend to close down the inquiry by legislation and block the Tribunal from inquiring into the Ruawaipu historical claims.
In December 2009 Judge Coxhead (who replaced Judge Clark at the last moment) inquired into urgent hearing applications by Ruawaipu, Uepohatu and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti claimants.
The Wai 2190 Tribunal East Coast Settlement Report was released in March 2010. Unfortunately Judge Coxhead, an inexperienced judge was strongly in favour of TRONP, despite finding flaws in the mandate, the Tribunal viewed that the flaws were not serious enough to halt the negotiations. Ironically, the Tribunal advised that the flaws should not continue with other Maori.
Several mitigating factors were offered by the Crown and TRONP to appease Judge Coxhead, these included an opportunity for opposing claimants to participate in a two week airing of grievances before the Crown and a chance to participate in the Post Settlement Governance Entity (PSGE).
Unfortunately, the two week airing does not provide redress to Ruawaipu in the settlement package for claims against Crown sovereignty or the East Coast Wars where Ngati Porou loyalists allied with the Crown to eliminate independent tribal groups and receive money and land. Furthermore, Ruawaipu claimants are forced to participate in the PSGE as Ngati Porou.
Despite the naivety of Judge Coxhead, in October 2010, he has decided to close down (defer) the East Coast Inquiry on the grounds that he views TRONP has a valid mandate. Coxhead has also played the numbers game with the mandate, due to the fact that TRONP in addition has also accessed government derived monies from fisheries assets and $3million of CFRT funds to obtain and maintain its mandate. The odds are greatly stacked against Ruawaipu claimants who have received no mandating funding assistance at all. In Coxhead’s view, Ruawaipu failed to compete.
As a result of Judge Coxhead’s blundering affairs, some Ruawaipu claimants have withdrawn their claims in protest as the TRONP settlement offers nothing but a continuation of ethic suppression. These claimants are looking at taking their treaty grievances against England and the Queen in an international forum. This way, Ruawaipu claimants can say they retained their tino rangatiratanga rather than side with the Crown and sell out like Ngati Porou did in 1865 and are doing at present day.
TRONP are currently seeking ratification of their Deed of Settlement. The settlement package is now approximately worth $130 million (cash and land). The Crown and TRONP intend to introduce legislation to seal the deal in early 2011.
However, the fight for justice is not over, as (1) High Court Judicial Reviews against Coxhead’s rulings; (2) new urgent hearing applications to the Tribunal; and (3) an application before the Maori Land Court to determine who are the appropriate representatives of Ruawaipu Iwi, have been filed before the Courts.