Thursday, June 30, 2011



The Waitangi Tribunal is to release findings tomorrow on the legal place of Maori culture and identity and claims of ownership over native flora and fauna.

The Wai 262 inquiry will make non-binding recommendations to the Government about claims of ownership over Maori knowledge and native flora and fauna which claimants believe are guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi.

The first claim was brought against the Crown in 1991 by six iwi and hearings ran from 1997 to 2007.

The claimants say the Crown breached article two of the Treaty which granted Maori exclusive and undisturbed ownership of their lands and property, including all taonga.

Claims say the Crown failed to protect Maori rights of authority and guardianship over indigenous flora and fauna, Maori cultural heritage and traditional knowledge.

These contemporary issues have not been looked at before.

The findings will look at customary Maori and English common law as it applies to native flora and fauna and how flora and fauna was dealt with when the Crown purchased Maori land.

The report will also examine scenery preservation and protected areas, inland waterways and the role of Maori in habitat transformation.

The inquiry also covers areas of Maori knowledge and intellectual property as well as education systems and the Maori language.

The chapter on the health of te reo Maori was released in pre-publication last October and made numerous recommendations, including a massive bolstering of power for the Maori Language Commission, which the tribunal says should be able to censure and 'name and shame' government agencies, councils or schools that are not doing enough to revitalise te reo.

- The Dominion Post

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