I have worked with, for, and on projects involving tangata whenua issues since I summer clerked with Russell McVeagh in 1999. I worked closely with Christian Whata (now Whata J ), as well as Paul Majurey. While I am of Niuean descent, I led Russell McVeagh's Māori Legal Group following Paul and Christian's departure. Some of my experience in this area is listed here.
Until my retirement from partnership at Russell McVeagh, I was leading the legal workstream for Ngati Hinerangi in moving from their Agreement in Principle to a Deed of Settlement with the Crown.
I also recently provided strategic advice to Te Ohu Kaimoana / the Maori Fisheries Trust on the legal regime for aquaculture and allocation of “new space” to iwi. That has entailed understanding the differing position and approaches of the relevant iwi authorities under the relevant legislation.
I led the case for Ngati Kahu in the High Court and Court of Appeal to protect a significant site of waahi tapu - Te Ana o Taite, an ancient burial cave in the Far North. Issues included the scope of the ‘existing environment’, as well as the interpretation of an earlier settlement agreement. Leave was granted to proceed to the Supreme Court, but matters were ultimately settled in 2015.
I assisted an appellant of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa and Ngati Raukawa descent to uphold principles of consultation and the protection of cultural heritage in respect of Transpower’s Wairakei - Whakamaru C transmission line. Matters were also ultimately settled by agreement, with the works undertaken in accordance with the protocols agreed through that process. In a similar way, advanced through judicial review, I assisted in negotiating access to, and maintenance of, a priority water body in Taranaki for an Association supported by the Te Atiawa Iwi Authority (comprising the six constituent hapu of Ngati Rahiri, Otaraua, Manukorihi, Pukerangiora, Puketapu and Ngati Te Whiti).
I am currently appointed by the owner and insurer of the MV Rena to assist in securing the resource consents necessary to leave the wreck of the Rena on Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef). Most of the appeals raise tangata whenua issues / concerns about cultural matters arising from the grounding and, notwithstanding the significant recovery efforts to date, the continuing presence of the wreck of the MV Rena on Otaiti.