The Waitangi Tribunal has made a number of criticisms of the Crown’s approach to dealing with Māori claimant groups with overlapping interests in a recently released report dealing with claims by four iwi.

The Tribunal has found that in many respects, the Crown’s policies, processes, and practices for dealing with groups with overlapping interests during settlement negotiations are inadequate and inconsistent with its Treaty obligations.

The Crown’s “Red Book”, a statement of Crown settlement policies and processes, came under the radar again, with the Tribunal reiterating the criticisms made of the Red Book in previous Tribunal reports.

The Tribunal also considered that the “sometimes undocumented and often opaque practices” adopted by the Crown when the Red Book does not cover the situation encountered (of which the Tribunal observed there are “many”), breach the principles of the Treaty.

Turning to the way the Crown applied its policies, processes and practices in providing redress in the settlement negotiations in question, the Tribunal identified Treaty breaches had prejudiced the four iwi involved in different ways. Breaches involved, among other issues, lack of proper consultation on redress proposals and insufficient transparency in the settlement process.

The Tribunal called for the Crown to actively demonstrate its commitment to tikanga when addressing overlapping interests.