December 2016 Māori Law Review
Legislation – Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill – Select Committee report on Bill – Whiringa-ā-rangi 2016
The Māori Affairs select committee of the House of Representatives has issued its report on Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill.
Download the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill as reported back with commentary (24 Whiringa-ā-rangi 2016 November).
The Government introduced a Bill to give effect to a settlement of historical claims relating to the Whanganui River. After receiving and hearing submissions the Māori Affairs select committee has issued its report on the Bill.
For background information see the earlier articles by Linda Te Aho describing the preceding settlement of historical claims and analysing the Bill as introduced: (2016) August Māori Law Review and (2014) May Māori Law Review.
The Committee recommends the Bill is progressed and passed with the amendments suggested in its report.
The Committee examined several issues arising from the settlement the Bill will give effect to.
First the Committee remarked that the Bill is "unusual" because it declares the Whanganui River as Te Awa Tupua. This appears to collapse what the Bill is doing in both recognising Te Awa Tupua (cl 12) and declaring Te Awa Tupua has the status of a legal person (cl 14). The Committee then described this as "unique" when noting Te Awa Tupua will be supported by a legal framework - Te Pā Auroa nā Te Awa Tupua.
Some groups with traditional customary associations with these waterways expressed concerns about protection of their interests as a result of this settlement. The Committee concluded it was satisfied iwi and hapū with interests in Te Awa Tupua can exercise "and potentially enhance" their kaitiakitanga. The Committee also expressed itself satisfied that historical claims of other groups would not be settled by this settlement.
The Committee recommended measures to ensure care is taken around the definition, for the purposes of this settlement, of the groups comprising Whanganui iwi.
Finally, in terms of settlement issues, the Committee recommended that after the first Crown nomination of a member of Te Pou Tupua, subsequent Crown nominations should be made by the Minister for the Environment.
The detailed changes recommended by the Committee's report are not set out here, but can be seen in the version of the Bill reported by the Committee.
What is set out here is the commentary comprising the Committee's report (first in te reo Māori and then in English):
Te Pire o Te Awa Tupua (mō Te Whakataunga o Ngā Kerēme e pā ana ki Te Awa o Whanganui)
Tā Te Komiti Whiriwhiri Take Māori i whakatakoto
Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill
As reported from the Māori Affairs Committee