Aggrieved Urban Māori Take Landmark High Court Action

Published: Wed 20 Apr 2016 04:51 PM
Aggrieved Urban Māori Take Landmark High Court Action Against Iwi Over Access to Trust Fund
A landmark High Court hearing seeking a judicial review to determine fair and equitable access for urban Māori to a $20 million trust fund started today in Wellington. The hearing continues until tomorrow.
Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust, established in 2004 was part of the urban Māori Treaty of Waitangi Settlement and is governed by the Māori Fisheries Act 2004. It was intended to provide for all Māori who might not benefit from the fisheries settlement that granted Iwi an allocation of more than $500 million of assets.
What has actually transpired according to the statement of claim filed by the two plaintiffs, National Urban Māori Authority and Waipareira Trust has been a pattern of blocked access leading to years of frustration.
Evidence by the pan-tribal groups purports that countless well-considered proposals submitted in good faith seeking funds to support social and economic developments for city based Māori have been repeatedly denied by Iwi that have the majority of voting power within the charitable trust.
“Unfortunately the current governance process has been fraught with inequality and unfairness. The most appropriate and principled approach now as costly as it is for our people, is to protect our position and seek objective jurisprudence to resolve matters with transparency for all parties involved” says spokesperson, Lady Tureiti Moxon.
She reaffirms the legal status of Urban Māori as the group were legally recognised as a pan-tribal treaty partner by the Waitangi Tribunal twenty two years ago in the ground breaking Wai 414 claim.
The directions being sought in CIV-2015-485 include:
• Clarity on Statutory Position - Urban Māori recognised as primary beneficiaries of Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust so governance arrangements are aligned with achieving that purpose.
• Compulsory Consultation – National Urban Māori Authority is consulted with when Directors are appointed to Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust.
• Mandatory Knowledge Base - All Directors of Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust must have knowledge and skills directly relevant to urban Māori.
• Fair and Transparent Governance – National Urban Māori Authority is to approve proxy rights directly to avoid quorum collapses and have a role in governance decision making.
• Fund for Urban Māori – The Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust is made available for the exclusive use of urban Māori.
Advocating for urban Māori is Senior Counsel Mr Bruce Gray QC. The defendants are Te Oku Kai Moana Trustee Limited and two Directors of Te Pūtea WhakatupuLimited, Mr Rikirangi Gage and Mr Richard Jefferies.

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