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Mike's Minute: The Waitangi Tribunal has been taken over by activism

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Feb 2023, 12:19PM
File photo (NZ Herald/NewspixNZ)
File photo (NZ Herald/NewspixNZ)

Mike's Minute: The Waitangi Tribunal has been taken over by activism

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Feb 2023, 12:19PM

It is widely accepted by those who follow such matters that the Waitangi Tribunal has become wildly activist.

It is now, without question, a brilliant example of a decent idea gone horribly awry.

As Anthony Albanese struggles to drum up support for his voice vote, which will almost certainly fail, he has looked here. In fact, many people have looked to New Zealand and our attempts over what now is many decades to rectify past wrongs.

Ironically, history increasingly shows the Government's that have made the most progress have been National ones.

Chris Finlayson of late and Doug Graham before him made major inroads into settlements, whereas the current Labour Government, like so much of what they do, amounts to little.

Speaking of little - Andrew Little, who is in charge of treaty matters, admits as much.

Anyway, the tribunal in their latest report tells the Crown off for not funding Māori adequately so they can make their claims.

What makes the tribunal so activist is this sort of statement and the thinking behind it is par for the course. What is adequate?

And given the system is invented, you have always needed a quid pro quo approach. What is a just settlement? Is it money, is it an apology, is it land or is it all three?

Every case is individual.

But somewhere along the way it's spiralled out of control. It's become an industry as individual lawyers have made millions. The tribunal seems intent on being here forever dealing with historic claims despite, if you remember, under Jim Bolger's Government there was an attempt to put a timeline on it all.

That logic, by the way, still applies given its not far off 50-years-old. Surely at some point the historic claims should be registered and settled. Just how long do you need to want to rectify something you argue went wrong over 180 years ago?

How many lawyers, how much research, how much funding?

The path to ratification has been open since the mid 70's and we are still scrapping over funding for claims. Surely boundaries have to be drawn and timelines have to be put in place?

Part of the reason the voice vote will fail in Australia is not because it's not the right thing to do, but because Albanese hasn’t explained properly what he is trying to do.

But also, if you look over here at a model of how to do it, it would put the frighteners up you.

Good intention is one thing.

A runaway train is another.

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