Applying for the recognition of customary rights.
There were two pathways for iwi, hapū or whānau to have their customary interests recognised at law - either by direct engagement with the Crown, (Section 95), or by applying to the High Court (Section 100). Groups could apply through both pathways. The deadline for applications closed on 3 April 2017.
It is estimated the over 580 competing claims will tie the courts up for decades, costing the country tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in claimant funding, policy advice and legal fees.
To prove that it has customary marine title for a particular area that should be recognised, a Māori group must have “exclusively used and occupied it from 1840 to the present day without substantial interruption” (Section 58).
Our courts depend on an adversarial process – they are poorly equipped to test claims and evidence when there is no adversary – so it is important that members of the public provide historical and contemporary evidence to prove areas under claim have been used by others. This evidence can be as simple as offering statements showing where and when they, too, had swum, fished, boated and walked the beach etc. without restriction, thereby proving that the claimants have not had exclusive use and occupation, and therefore the do not meet the legal test.