Māori ownership over Lake Waikaremoana was ignored by the Crown and they further breached the Treaty of Waitangi when they refused to pay for the use of the water to generate power. These are some of the key findings released in the Waitangi Tribunal's fifth report on Te Urewera.
Lake Waikaremoana is the focus of the latest Waitangi Tribunal report release today. Ngāti Ruapani claimant Rapata Wiri is welcoming the findings and says there are numerous breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi.
According to Rapata Wiri from Te Tatau Pounamu o Waikaremoana, “One big area for us of Ngāti Ruapani is the ownership of water, because the Crown has been taking water from Waikaremoana and has not paid for that right.
Claims were lodged by Tūhoe, Ngāti Ruapani, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tamaterangi. The Tribunal have found the crown breached Māori ownership rights and failed to consult with Māori and didn't offer any compensation. Tūhoe have settled with the Crown but the ownership of the lake is something that Tūhoe may have to purchase.
Tamati Kruger says, “In 1971 it was established then who owns Waikaremoana and it was said that the claim will remain, so what was established then was that Ngāi Tūhoe and Kahungunu share that ownership.”
Ngāti Ruapani welcome the acknowledgment of their claim to Waikaremoana and will be seeking compensation as part of their Treaty claim.
“We should receive compensation for those breaches and that's not an easy task because we are the actually fighting each other,” says Rapata Wiri.
With these findings, it remains to be seen if the Government will be willing to offer any compensations to Māori and what influence these findings will have for other tribes who have a vested interest in Lake Wakaremoana.