Kaupapa inquiries are designed to provide a pathway for the Waitangi Tribunal to hear claims relating to nationally significant issues affecting Māori.

The following kaupapa inquiries currently before the Waitangi Tribunal:

  • The National Fresh Water and Geothermal Resources Inquiry (Wai 2358)

The National Fresh Water and Geothermal Resources Inquiry has been divided into three stages.

Stage one dealt with Māori rights and interests in freshwater and the potential impact on Māori if the Crown sold shares in state-owned power companies. The Tribunal released its final report in 2012, finding that Māori had rights and interests in freshwater were equivalent to ownership rights, and that these were guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Tribunal further found that the sale of shares should be halted if it would mean that the Crown could not deliver recognition of Māori rights and interests in freshwater.

Hearings for stage two were held from 2016 to 2018, and focused on the Crown’s freshwater regime and its reforms. In its stage two report, the Tribunal expressed the view that the law in respect of fresh water is inconsistent with Treaty principles.

In September 2022, the Tribunal concluded its hearings into claims relating to Māori representation in resource management reforms. The Tribunal was unable to say whether the Crown’s proposed process was Treaty compliant overall.  

Stage three will focus on Māori rights and interests in geothermal resources.

  • The Māori Military Veterans Inquiry (Wai 2500)

The Military Veterans Inquiry has been hearing claims related to past military service undertaken on behalf of the Crown. The scope of this Inquiry includes the military service itself, as well as its impacts on ex-service people and their whānau.

Hearings were held in Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Northland, Whakatane, and Christchurch in 2016. After eight years of preparation the final phase of hearings began in June 2023 and are currently underway. 

  • The Health Services and Outcomes Inquiry (Wai 2575)

The Health Services and Outcomes Inquiry began in 2016, with the first hearing in October 2018.

This Inquiry is being heard in stages. In stage one, which concluded in March 2019, the Tribunal heard claims relating to the primary healthcare system.

In its stage one report, the Tribunal found that the primary health care sector did not comply with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and this has contributed to serious health inequities for Māori. The Tribunal also found that Māori health organisations are underfunded, and that Māori are significantly under-represented across different health professions.

Stage two of the Inquiry will cover the following three priority areas:

  1. Māori living with disabilities
  2. Mental health
  3. Alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse.

The Tribunal is currently hearing claims relating to Māori living with disabilities.

  • The Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act Inquiry (Wai 2660)

In this Inquiry the Tribunal heard claims regarding the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

In stage one of the Inquiry, the Tribunal found that the procedural and resourcing arrangements supporting the Takutai Moana Act 2011 were not compliant with the Treaty.

Stage two of the Inquiry focussed on the policies and principles underpinning the Takutai Moana Act. Hearings for stage two were completed in February 2022.

  • The Mana Wāhine Inquiry (Wai 2700)

The central focus of this Inquiry is on the systemic discrimination and inequities experienced by wāhine Māori.

The Tribunal began by conducting initial hearings focused on the tikanga of mana wāhine and the understanding of wāhine in Te Ao Māori. These initial hearings concluded in 2022, with the next phase of the Inquiry likely to begin in 2024.

  • The Housing Policy and Services Inquiry (Wai 2750)

The Housing Policy and Services Inquiry is hearing claims relating to Crown failures to ensure an adequate standard of housing Māori.

In May 2023, the Tribunal released its report on the Crown’s homelessness policy, concluding the first stage of the Housing Policy and Services Inquiry.

Future stages of the Housing Policy and Services Inquiry will look at broader issues underlying Māori homelessness and housing problems more generally, including colonisation, the Māori land tenure system, and the structural drivers of poverty. It is expected that the main part of the Inquiry will begin in 2024.

  • The Justice System Inquiry (Wai 3060)

The Justice System Inquiry is hearing claims relating to access to justice, discrimination, and systemic issues within the justice system.

In the first stage of the Inquiry, the Tribunal looked at Crown funding for claimants’ participation in Tribunal inquiries, including legal aid. The Tribunal released its report in February 2023, finding that the Crown has an obligation to provide funding. The Tribunal made a long term recommendation that the Crown work with Māori to develop a funding system that works for claimants. 

The Tribunal is currently holding a series of events to explore the tikanga of justice to guide the later stages of the Inquiry.

What’s next?

The Tribunal’s next kaupapa inquiry will look into Aotearoa’s constitutional arrangements.

The following topics are also scheduled for inquiry:

  • Education
  • Social services and social development
  • Economic development
  • Identity and culture
  • Natural resources and environmental management
  • Citizenship rights and equality

 

At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Devon Tesoriero