Monday, 7 March 2016

Waitangi Tribunal 40th Anniversary, 1975-2015

The Waitangi Tribunal has released a special edition of its Te Manutukutuku newsletter marking the 40th anniversary of the Tribunal’s founding in 1975.

The special edition features articles and interviews from thirty current and former participants in the Waitangi Tribunal’s process, including Tribunal members, iwi leaders, historians and lawyers.

Contributors include former chairperson Sir Edward Taihukurei Durie, former chairperson Justice Joe Williams, the Minister of Māori Development the Honourable Te Ururoa Flavell, former Māori Party co-leader the Honourable Dame Tariana Turia, former chairperson of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board Sir Tipene O’Regan, and lawyer Annette Sykes.

Justice Joe Williams (left) and Sir Edward Taihukurei Durie (source: teara.govt.nz)


I was also asked to contribute and noted as part of my piece the importance of ensuring that the research commissioned for the Tribunal process is made accessible to iwi and the wider public. While the Tribunal's own reports eventually end up on its website, the thousand or more research reports commissioned by the claimants, Crown and Tribunal over the past few decades are usually much harder to access for those outside the claims process.

It is time, I suggested, to give consideration to how these might be made more freely available, perhaps with an online digital repository backed up by hard copies at a suitable institution like the National Library.

The special edition also includes a feature article from Tribunal member Dr Ann Parsonson on the history of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Current chairperson Chief Judge Wilson Isaac writes in his introduction: ‘As the Tribunal moves towards completing its inquiries into historical claims and addressing kaupapa (thematic) and contemporary claims, this edition of Te Manutukutuku highlights the contribution the Tribunal has made towards restoring and sustaining the Treaty-based relationship between Māori and the Crown.’