via National Watchman

ACT Party Leader David Seymour has voiced concern over recommendations made in a recent radical Waitangi Tribunal report that urges not only for Crown land to be returned to Māori, but for iwi to be compensated for the effects of colonisation.

Seymour accused the tribunal of indulging in ‘divisive’ activism, arguing the findings presented by the report encroach on property rights and the ‘basic human rights’ of New Zealanders.

Seymour said it was time for Parliament to define the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

‘I think it would legitimate a healthy debate,’ Seymour said. ‘A lot of people say it would be very divisive. That’s not what I see.’

The approximately 2000-page Waitangi Tribunal report, which was part of the Te Paparahi o Te Raki (Northland) probe, was made public in late December.

One of the conclusions is that the Crown violated treaty principles when it declared sovereignty over the North Island and later other regions of New Zealand. This is based on an earlier discovery that rangatira in the Bay of Islands and Hokianga did not transfer sovereignty in 1840.

The report made a number of recommendations, including that the Crown apologise for treaty violations, give local Māori back all Crown-owned land in the northern district, pay Māori, and grant Māori the authority to preside over future proceedings.

‘There may well be a claim of fact about things that happened and that we should be willing to look at that,’ Seymour said.

‘But I don’t see where the implication takes us as a free and democratic society.

‘It would appear that if you take it to its logical conclusion then the property rights of New Zealanders and the basic human rights of New Zealanders in Northland are not subject to kāwanatanga [governance] by the Crown.

‘The idea that somehow there’s going to be some sort of dual sovereignty or contested sovereignty or alternative law enforcement or anything like that, it’s simply not consistent with the with what is good for people in the long term.

‘I think the problem is that the Waitangi Tribunal has gone well beyond its brief and become increasingly activist… it’s tried to become a source of authority in its own right.’

Seymour said if elected, ACT would reject the recommendations.