Treaty of Waitangi v Native Title: Comparative outcomes?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Huia Woods-Smith

Aotearoa / New Zealand has an international reputation for reconciliation between the indigenous people and its post-colonial settlers based on the historical constitutional Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840. An interesting juxtaposition with native title in Australia is the lack of legal recognition of property rights in mining in New Zealand legislation.

This presentation considers whether the right to negotiate process and negotiations with the state under the Native Title Act 1993 could be used to produce similar outcomes to those currently enjoyed by some Maori groups in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

The right to negotiate process under the Native Title Act has the potential to achieve the same outcomes but this is dependent on the presence of certain characteristics. Let’s look at some elements present in Aotearoa / New Zealand settlements and what Maori groups have achieved with their settlements to determine what some useful/necessary characteristics are. Native title groups have created, or are considering the creation of, systems that could result in positive outcomes/ processes. These systems/processes are the outcomes of settlements with the state (native title determinations and other major agreements under the future acts regime agreements with mining companies.

Maori have good systems/processes that have achieved positive outcomes. These systems were the outcomes of settlements with the state. Are there some characteristics of such systems that could be mapped over to Aboriginal corporations that may result in similar or better outcomes?