The first of the High Court cases to be heard is the Clarkson application. Details about this claim (and the other overlapping claims) are available on the NZCPR website. Please click HERE.
Another priority case involves Ngati Pahauwera. A case management conference (CMC) was held in Napier on 4 February 2019, which included the following applications:
The aim of the CMC was to put in place a timetable. The resulting minutes will be able to be accessed through the Courts of New Zealand website: http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/the-courts/high-court/high-court-lists/marine-and-coastal-area-takutai-moana-act-2011-applications-for-recognition-orders
Who is defending the public interest?
There is still no clear picture about who will be defending the public interest when the claims come to court. The Attorney General, who most people had thought would oppose the High Court claims, recently clarified that this is not his role:
“To be clear, the Attorney-General does not consider it is his role to oppose applications in the public interest”.
While he explained that he will act as an ‘interested party’ in each claim to ensure that the statutory tests are met, it seems there is no guarantee that the claims will be opposed by the Crown. We are still trying to find out exactly how the government plans to handle these cases when they come before the Court.
It is recommended members of the public urge the government to defend the public interest in the coast, and to provide the same kind of financial assistance, as that being provided to claimants, to those who seek to oppose the claims.
Building a knowledge bank
The Coastal Claims Project is building a dossier of information about public use of each claimed area, to have ready a good basis of factual evidence that can be used to refute the claimants’ arguments that they have used the area exclusively and continuously since 1840. Anybody who would like to help by providing their history of coastal use, please contact the Project for an evidence document template for collecting this information. Email Katrina at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to read background information about what is going on with the coastal claims, see the research brief produced by NZCPR, which is available by clicking HERE.
Of interest also is the ‘Keep our beaches Kiwi’ Facebook page.
Will local authorities act on behalf of the public interest? The jury is still out.
We in Auckland have been seeking assurances that the Council will become actively involved, on behalf of their citizens, by providing evidence to refute any assertions by applicant groups that they have held the claimed area in accordance with tikanga and have “exclusively used and occupied the coastal area from 1840 to the present day, without substantial interruption” (s 58 of the Act). The wording of the legislation makes providing such evidence extremely important. Clause 106 (3) states:
“In the case of every application for a recognition order, it is presumed, in the absence of proof to the contrary, that a customary interest has not been extinguished”.
In an email sent to a member on 18 September, Auckland council officer James Stephens stated that Auckland Council has lodged notices of intention to appear as an interested person, neither opposing nor supporting the applications. Given the wording of the legislation as referenced above, we have pointed out to the Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore that by not providing evidence to refute claims of exclusive use by the applicants, Auckland Council would in fact be supporting the claimants. We await a reply.
As well as the 34 claims made in the High Court, there are approximately 30 applications relating to the Auckland region for direct Crown engagement. A list of all these claims is available HERE. We are currently requesting the Auckland Council become involved on behalf of the general public. However, correspondence received from the Council states that they have no role in the direct engagement process with the Crown as the council does not meet the necessary legal tests. We are currently seeking further clarification from council.
Please take action!
Urging our local bodies to act in the public interest is something we can all do. If Auckland Council is anything to go by, there is a real reluctance to become involved. Our councillors need to hear from us.