'Slow progress' and frustration on Mana Wāhine Waitangi claim

Source: Q and A

Concerns have been raised at the slow progress of a landmark Waitangi Tribunal claim.

This month the Waitangi Tribunal has been holding hearings into the Mana Wāhine claim, which was filed in 1993, led by Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora, also known as the Māori Womens’ Welfare League.

The League is the country’s longest running Māori organisation.

Prue Kapua, who has recently stepped down as the League’s president, says the delay has been “pretty frustrating”.

The original impetus for the claim by the League was the sidelining of Dame Mira Szaszy, a past president of the League, from an appointment to Te Ohu Kaimona (the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission).

The claimants argue that Crown actions and inactions have marginalised Māori women for far too long. It’s a claim that alleges a breach of all three Treaty articles.

Kapua told Q+A with Jack Tame that the decades long wait to be heard by the Waitangi Tribunal has been tough.

“I think the fact that we’ve waited all this time has meant that we’ve continued to go through a period of time where the questions about why our voice isn’t heard on the many number of groups that are established.

"So the fact that we’ve existed since 1951 hasn’t meant that the Government has always put us at the forefront when they’ve looked to consult or seek advice. And I think waiting all that time for that to be heard has been pretty frustrating.”

The claim sits alongside arguments for recognising Māori views and interests in all aspects of government.

Prue Kapua on Q+A.

“We do have a society that hasn’t grown enough to recognise that we are not a minority, that we are not one of a number of groups, we have a particular status by virtue of being mana whenua.”

The next round of hearings will begin at Waiwhetu Marae in Wellington on August 22.