Waitangi Tribunal to Recognise Urban Maori Tribe NZ Herald 3 Jul 98
STOP PRESS Unfortunately the recognition outlined below has proved to be groundless, as the Waitangi Fisheries Commission has subsequently rejected the urban Maori case. The article however highlights the dilemma of urban Maori in relation to traditional tribes.
Maori city slickers could find themselves on the same legal, social and financial ground as their tribe-based cousins after a landmark Waitangi Tribunal judgment. A tribunal ruling to be released on Monday makes historic recommendations recognising urban Maori trusts as modern-day tribes - widening their access to state funding and social services. The tribunal's report on a four- year-old claim by Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust acknowledges the trust as a Treaty of Waitangi partner. The ruling is the first official recognition of an urban trust as a modern-day iwi and is expected to set a precedent for urban Maori trusts throughout the country. It comes as a High Court judge weighs a decision on the divisive Maori fishing assets case, a dispute cutting to the heart of what it means to be Maori. Urban Maori are claiming the equivalent of iwi status and entitlement to a share in the distribution of fisheries resources worth more $500 million.
The chief executive of the trust, John Tamihere, said that a tribunal decision giving rangatiratanga status to Waipareira would have an impact on the High Court ruling. "If we have a Government body giving us that recognition then it sets the precedent." Recognition of urban Maori authorities on the same level as iwi bodies would allow them better access to social welfare, health and Te Puni Kokiri funding, and policy input. As an example, he said, the trust's ability to deliver social ser- vices in West Auckland was hampered by a clause in the Social Welfare Act spelling out 'delivery by iwi services." In health, iwi groups also got preferred funding. Mr Taniihere said the tribunal decision would provide a 'major release of innate Maori potential that was being suppressed from within its own ranks," He predicted it would be a wakeup call to the Minister of Justice, Doug Graham, and the Minister of Maori Affairs, Tau Henare. The executive chairman of the Maori Council, Maanu Paul, said giving recognition to Waipareira would be a positive move but much depended on the definition of that recognition.
The 1994 claim by the trust was based on three matters: