Waitangi Tribunal

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A court established in 1976, to which all violations of Maori rights as defined by the Treaty of Waitangi were referred. However, it could only decide on violations of the treaty committed after the establishment of the tribunal in 1976. Maori protests continued until the tribunal became vastly more effective in 1985, when it was given power to judge retrospectively on all Maori land claims since the original treaty of 1840. It gave the Maoris a powerful instrument of redress, and enabled them to be heard successfully in their claims for rights of landownership, as well as for fishing rights. Indeed, their success in reversing government legislation in the past, or amending government legislation in the present, became an embarrassment to the government among its White (Pakeha) constituency.

In 1990 the government felt compelled to reassert its ‘right to govern’ as established by the Treaty of Waitangi, which was ultimately paramount over any Maori land claim. Nevertheless, Maori pressure continued, so that on 22 May 1995 the government for the first time returned land to the largest Maori group of the Tainui, as well as paying compensation of NZ$170 million. The tribunal is composed equally of Maori and Pakeha staff, and promotes conciliation and negotiation. Its first concern is to establish the historical circumstances of the claim. It will issue a recommendation only if the two parties fail to reach agreement on a claim. The Waitangi Tribunal has gone to great lengths to be accepted by both Maori and Pakeha communities, but insufficient government funding has diminished its effectiveness.land claims (australia); land claims (native), canada

land claims (australia); land claims (native), canada

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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