Pita Pangari lodged this WAI 116 claim with the Waitangi Tribunal in 1986 on behalf of the descendants of Kahukuraariki. In the 1980s Pita learned from his kaumātua and kuia that Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa had long-standing grievances over what they viewed as the confiscation by the Crown of our ancestral lands. In 1983 the kaumātua and kuia called a Hui in Auckland, at Tūtahi Tonu, the marae at Epsom Teacher's College. At this and subsequent Hui, Pita learned that his great-great-uncle, Hemi Rua Paeara, had continually petitioned Parliament, seeking to redress these grievances. Throughout the 1980s Pita engaged in research of Māori Land Court papers.
In 1987, the Crown was planning to transfer Crown land around the country to a State Owned Enterprise (SOE), as part of their privatisation strategy. Our lands, including Stony Creek Farm, would have been included in that sale. So Pita lodged a caveat against the sale with the Waitangi tribunal, in a petition dated 12th June 1987. This action resulted in the title of the Farm being encumbered by a notice of resumption. Eventually the Crown also purchased the adjoining farms, the Thomson and Clark Blocks, so they could be land-banked for Treaty settlements.
The filing of the Claim led to preliminary research being undertaken by Dr Rigby, a tribal historian for the Waitangi Tribunal, who detailed the nature of the grievance, and documented the efforts of our Iwi, over many decades to have the wrongs addressed through their various petitions to Parliament. In 1988, the Chief Judge called a Hui from the Waitangi Tribunal. He gave the WAI 116 claimants the opportunity to join the Muriwhenua Claim, which was rejected by Pita and our whānau. However, Judge Durie felt that the WAI 116 Claim could be suitable for mediation. After three years of mediation, it became clear that the Crown were not going to agree to a settlement that would be agreeable to the tribe. At that time, Landcorp, who managed lands on behalf of the Crown, was keen to settle the Claim by giving back Stony Creek Farm, but they just wanted to transfer the land and give no other assets to Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa, which was not acceptable to the tribe, so mediation failed.
The Claim was then to be heard by the Waitangi Tribunal alongside, but not part of, the Muriwhenua Claim. For Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa, it was a matter of convenience for our Claim to be heard at the same time, but distinct from the Muriwhenua Claim. Pita and Richard Hawk, our lawyer, attended a series of Tribunal hearings at various Marae in the Far North and presented evidence at Kareponia Marae in May 1993. Their evidence included showing the ancient urupā and pa sites. Representatives of Ngā Puhi Nui Tonu and Ngāti Kahu were either present at these Hui, or gave written acknowledgement that this Claim was separate from their Muriwhenua Claim.
The Crown’s evidence was presented in Taipa on September 1993. It became clear from the evidence and cross-examination that the long-remembered grievances were well founded. Closing submissions on the Claim were delivered at Pukepoto Marae in March 1994. There was other Crown land in the Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa tribal rohe that could be returned, and much had passed out of Crown hands into private sale, so was beyond the reach of claimants.
The Tribunal in the Muriwhenua Report upheld this view, which stated:
“While remedies still have to be considered, we indicate a preliminary opinion that the return of the Stony Creek Farm alone would not be sufficient to compensate for past loss or provide a sufficient economic base for… the future”.
(Muriwhenua Report, 1997: Clause 11.3.7, p. 403)
The people of Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa then had to set up a Trust to begin negotiating with the Crown. At that time, there were competing groups seeking the mandate to take on this role. The group, which eventually formed the Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa Trust, gained the majority of votes at a Hui at Awataha Marae in December 1999. In 2000, a delegation of Trustees went to Wellington, and met with the then Minister of Māori Affairs, Dover Samuels, and Minister of Treaty Settlements, Margaret Wilson, after which the mandate of the Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa Trust was formally recognised by the Crown. Representatives of competing groups went to Wellington to meet with Te Puni Kōkiri, who brokered an agreement for another election to form a single Trust and gain a mandate to negotiate with the Crown. Those elections were held in 2001, and were monitored by Ian Peters, the General Manager of Te Puni Kōkiri Manager for Tai Tokerau at that time.
Over the next two years, the Trust continued to meet regularly in Marae across the rohe. In 2003, at a Hui a Iwi (AGM) at Mangawhero Marae, a Strategic Planning Workshop was held to decide the pathway for the Treaty Claim. It was decided that the time was right to begin direct negotiations with the Crown. The Trust had been legally set up, each Marae was now represented, and the Crown had accepted the mandate of the Trust. Four Negotiators were appointed, Pita Pangari, John Paterson, Laverne King and Ella Henry.
Alongside Wai 116, Michael Sheehan and others had lodged a claim, Wai 258, the Whangaroa Lands Claim, on behalf of the people of Ngāti Kaitangata and Ngatikahu Ki Whangaroa tribes. At that time, Wai 116 was about to go into negotiations, the Crown wanted to include Wai 258. After consultation between the two groups, it was agreed to combine for the purposes of negotiation and speedier resolution, so members of Ngāti Kaitangata joined the negotiation team.
Negotiations began in June 2004. Between 2004 and 2007 the Negotiators met regularly with the Office of Treaty Settlements to discuss and settle on the terms and conditions of the Agreement in Principle. Finally, the offer, as outlined in the Agreement in Principle was signed between the then Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Hon Dr Michael Cullen and representatives of Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa in December 2007. Since 2007, the Trust Board has continued to work with the Office of Treaty Settlements to progress to post-settlement, which has culminated in the Deed of Settlement (DOS) and Constitution for a Post-Settlement Governance Entity (PSGE).
Between June 2015-August 2015 the ratification process was undertaken whereby approximately 2,000 registered members aged 18 years and over were given the opportunity to either accept the Deed of Settlement or not.
The voting process was carried out by an external organisation, Election Services to ensure it was fair and open.
The outcome of the vote was that it was accepted by majority of beneficiaries that voted.
The Deed of Settlement was ultimately signed on 18 December 2015 which took place at Otangaroa Marae.