Waitangi Tribunal hearings involving stage one of the Central North Island (CNI) claims will conclude early next month with closing submissions from the Crown and claimant submissions in reply.
Stage one, which commenced at Rotorua in February 2005, involves an investigation into the wider (or ‘generic’) historical issues common to the whole region, which includes the Rotorua, Taupo and Kaingaroa districts. It is yet to be decided whether the Tribunal will proceed with Stage II, which would involve an investigation of particular or specific iwi and hapu claims.
Covering three separate districts and multiple iwi and hapu claims, the CNI hearings have required a huge commitment from all parties. Given the sheer scale of the area covered, the historical issues involved have been varied and complex.
HistoryWorks Research Directors Dr Vincent O’Malley, Bruce Stirling and David Armstrong presented and faced cross-examination on a total of 7 historical reports prepared for this inquiry. Dr O’Malley’s recently completed doctoral thesis on Maori political movements in the nineteenth century, and his 1998 book Agents of Autonomy: Maori Committees in the Nineteenth Century, were also placed on the record of inquiry.
Whether this ambitious hearing process will be judged a success will ultimately be determined by the Tribunal. All parties to the inquiry hope for an expeditious report from the Tribunal, which will enable them to advance the settlement of their claims, including those involving significant Crown forestry assets in the region. [Added 12 October 2005]