An application for urgency is a type of application that can be made to the Waitangi Tribunal. If an application for urgency is granted, the hearing of the claim will be prioritised over other claims.

For example, in 2022 the Waitangi Tribunal granted an urgency application in relation to the Kura Kaupapa Māori Claim, as it related to the detrimental impact of the Crown’s impending reforms to the school system. This meant that the Kura Kaupapa Māori Claim was heard in priority to other claims.

Persons wishing to make an application for urgency to the Waitangi Tribunal need to provide the following information in writing:

  • The specific reasons why an urgent inquiry hearing is needed;
  • Whether the application relates to a whole claim or a group of claims, or to part of a claim;
  • Whether the applicants are ready to proceed to hearing;
  • Whether any research is required;
  • Any people or groups affected by the application that need to be notified; and
  • Any other relevant information.

This information will need to be as specific as possible, and must also be signed by all named claimants.

The application should be sent to the Waitangi Tribunal Registrar and the Crown. Once the Waitangi Tribunal receives this information it will be assessed, and the applicant will be notified if any additional information is required.

The Tribunal will only grant an urgent hearing in exceptional cases where the applicant fulfils the following criteria:

  • That the applicants are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant and irreversible prejudice as a result of current or pending Crown actions;
  • That there is no alternative remedy that, in the circumstances, it would be reasonable to exercise; and
  • That the applicants are ready to proceed urgently to a hearing.

If the Tribunal is satisfied that the above requirements are met, the Crown will be given an opportunity to respond to the application. The applicant will then be given a chance to reply to the Crown. The application may be decided based on the written information alone, or there may be an opportunity to make submissions in person. The Tribunal will then issue their decision on the application.

The Tribunal may also consider whether an alternative dispute resolution process may be more appropriate.

If you need assistance to bring, or progress, your urgency application, it is helpful to speak to a professional with experience in this area.


Devon Tesoriero