Waitangi Tribunal


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Waitangi Tribunal

(New Zealand) a body set up in 1975 to deal with claims under the Treaty of Waitangi 1840. It was restructured in 1985. For the Maoris, it is said to be more than a simple consensual contract, having as it does the additional force of the obligation to venerate ancestors' promises. The treaty had three articles. It gave the British Crown sovereignty over New Zealand; it assured Maori New Zealanders that the Crown would protect all cultural and property rights. The third article gave Maoris full rights of British citizenship. The 1985 Amendment Act allowed the tribunal to look into violations that had taken place right back to the original treaty. The 1988 Amendment Act was required to help process a large backlog of claims, many complaining of conduct in imperial times. The tribunal's remit is to consider claims relating to the practical application of the treaty. The tribunal considers whether the claimant was one judicially affected. The claimant must be Maori or of Maori descent. Since 1988 the tribunal can make decisions that bind state enterprises. The tribunal is investigative rather than adversarial; its proceedings could be described as casual and permit cases to be argued in Maori. It continues to sit at the time of writing.
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