The Port Nicholson Block Urgency Report
Waitangi Tribunal (Wai 2235, 2012)
The Waitangi Tribunal’s Port Nicholson Block Urgency Report is the outcome of an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing in June 2012 into the claim that the Crown had breached undertakings made during settlement negotiations with Taranaki Whānui interests about the scope of redress that would be offered to other groups.
The claim was partly upheld and partly not upheld. The Tribunal did not uphold the claim by Taranaki Whānui that they agreed to forego one commercial property on the Crown’s express undertaking that no other property would be offered to Ngāti Toa anywhere in the entire Port Nicholson Block at Wellington. However, the Tribunal did find that the Crown had given Taranaki Whānui an undertaking that, in exchange for agreeing to the release of that property, no other property would be offered to Ngāti Toa in the Wellington central business district. The Tribunal found the Crown broke that undertaking and in doing so breached Treaty principles.
This report contains a number of observations that could have significant implications for future settlements. The Tribunal determined that it was entitled to examine pre-settlement negotiations and subsequent actions and omissions of the Crown, despite the existence of an “entire agreement” clause in the deed of settlement, a standard provision in Treaty settlements. This determination was based on the Tribunal’s reasoning that neither the Crown nor settling groups can contract out of their Treaty obligations.