The Waitangi Tribunal’s Wairarapa ki Tararua hearings drew to a close this month when lawyers for claimants and the Crown presented their closing submissions. The ninth and final hearing from 7-11 March came a year after the Tribunal commenced its inquiry in Masterton in March 2004.
HistoryWorks Directors Moka Apiti, Bruce Stirling and David Armstrong were involved in the hearings in various ways. Moka produced most of the maps used by claimants during the hearings, David assisted some claimant counsel, and Bruce prepared a comprehensive four-volume overview report that examined the changing nature of the relationship between Wairarapa Māori and the Crown. He also completed a report on the lands and people of Ngati Hinewaka Me Ōna Kārangaranga, a cluster of hapu in south-eastern Wairarapa.
Wairarapa ki Tararua is the second district in which the Waitangi Tribunal has adopted its ‘new approach’ to hearing claims in order to speed up and rationalise the process of inquiring into and reporting on claims. The approach was first applied in the Turanga (Gisborne) inquiry.
In Wairarapa ki Tararua the ‘new approach’ succeeded in clarifying the issues being inquired into at the outset and in reducing hearing time. On the other hand, because early hearings were dominated by expert witnesses and overview evidence, tangata whenua involvement was very limited. Later hearings, held on marae throughout the Wairarapa ki Tararua district, brought the people back. [Added 15 March 2005]