Orig­i­nal Levin land buy a Treaty breach

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - JONO GALUSZKA

The Crown left a Horowhenua iwi vir­tu­ally land­less and its most pre­cious taonga ex­tremely de­graded, the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal has found.

It also said Lake Horowhenua and Hokio Stream were in a bad state, and the Crown had taken ad­van­tage of an in­debted chief to buy land where Levin now stands and abused its ‘‘mo­nop­oly pow­ers’’, breach­ing the Treaty of Wai­tangi.

The find­ings, re­leased by the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal on Fri­day, came with the re­quest the Crown put a sys­tem and fund­ing in place to en­sure the iwi can act as kaiti­aki, or guardians, of the lake and stream.

The tri­bunal also wants the Crown to ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment with the iwi.

The tri­bunal’s find­ings came af­ter a hear­ing in 2015 and 2016, held at the re­quest of Muaupoko iwi be­fore Treaty set­tle­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions were well ad­vanced.

The Crown ad­mit­ted var­i­ous laws had hurt the iwi by leav­ing it vir­tu­ally land­less.

The tri­bunal said the way the Crown bought the land where Levin now stands was un­fair, be­cause the Crown re­fused all of Muaupoko’s terms for the sale and dealt with a chief who was in debt.

‘‘The Crown ob­tain the block from a chief whose debts meant, as a Crown of­fi­cial noted, that he ‘could not help him­self’,’’ the tri­bunal said.

‘‘The Crown abused its mo­nop­oly pow­ers to pay a price that was too low, and to re­ject all of the pro­vi­sions which might have pro­vided long-term ben­e­fit for the tribe.’’

Var­i­ous other deals were done with se­nior mem­bers of the iwi through­out the 1800s, the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect be­ing the iwi hav­ing no land.

The tri­bunal said there were ‘‘se­ri­ous Treaty breaches’’ in re­la­tion to Lake Horowhenua and the Hokio Stream.

De­spite the lake bed be­long­ing to Muaupoko, the Crown made the lake a pub­lic recre­ation re­serve, con­trolled by a do­main board, in the early 1900s. That was done with­out the full agree­ment of Muaupoko, the tri­bunal said.

That led to var­i­ous other Treaty breaches, with the Crown ‘‘com­plicit in the pol­lu­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion of both taonga’’.

A gov­er­nance struc­ture ne­go­ti­ated as part of a Treaty set­tle­ment should act as kaiti­aki for the lake, stream and as­so­ci­ated wa­ters and fish­eries.

The Wai­tangi Tri­bunal has found the Crown was com­plicit in the pol­lu­tion of Lake Horowhenua.

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