5 Legacies – Settling the Wars Claims

The Waitangi Tribunal

In 1975, the New Zealand government established the Waitangi Tribunal. The purpose of the Tribunal was to provide a legal forum before which Maori could appear, and argue for compensation arising from historic wrongs committed by the Crown.

Logo of the Waitangi Tribunal designed by Māori artist Cliff Whiting

The Tribunal however could only make recommendations to the Crown. Whether these recommendations would be acted on, or not, was up to the government.

In 1975, when it was established, the Tribunal could only look ahead with its investigations and recommendations, that is, it could only inquire into wrongs alleged by Māori after 1975.

‘All History Under Review’

In 1985, this was all changed. The Tribunal could now investigate all the way back to 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by Māori and the Crown. As was noted at the the time, all of New Zealand’s history could now be ‘placed under judicial review’.

This section will provide brief details of the Claims settled thus far, in those tribal areas of New Zealand where the Land Wars took place. We will also assess the extensive literature that is now available on the Waitangi Tribunal Claims process.

Parihaka Pā, near Rahotu, Central Taranaki.

The Te Ātiawa (Taranaki) Claim 

As a special case study into the intricacies of the complex claims process, we will also focus here in more detail upon the Tribunal Claim of the Te Ātiawa iwi of North Taranaki.

In providing such a focus, it is hoped that some appreciation of the influence and legacy of the Claims process upon Māori might be achieved.

To read more on the Te Ātiawa (Taranaki) Claim, see Te Ātiawa Taranaki Claim