Original Levin land buy a Treaty breach
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.