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History » Others represent Ngati Tama interests
In the absence of an organised entity representing Ngati Tama in Wellington, other Iwi such as Ngati Toa and Te Atiawa took responsibility for looking after Ngati Tama interests. In particular, the Wellington Tenths Trust has directly represented the interests of its beneficiaries, namely those individuals and their descendents who were named as owners in Ngati Tama reserves in the Wellington region in the 19th century.
The Wellington Tenths Trust is not a legitimate representative of Ngati Tama's collective interests in Wellington. It does not represent all Ngati Tama people, especially those who are not among its shareholders (of which more than 50% are of Ngati Tama descent). However, the Wellington Tenths Trust claims to represent a number of Maori iwi and groups in Wellington, including Ngati Tama. In its Statement of Claim dated 28 June 1996 to the Waitangi Tribunal, the Trust stated that it represents beneficiaries "who whakapapa to tupuna of the iwi and hapu of Te Atiawa, Ngati Mutunga, and Ngati Tama who were living in and about the rohe of Whanganui-a-Tara in 1839 and 1840".
The Wellington Tenths Trust is not an appropriate body to represent Ngati Tama Iwi because it's a non-Iwi organisation. It is a Maori Land Court-created Ahu Whenua Trust established under Section 438 of Te Ture Whenua Maori Land Act. Therefore, because of its legal status, the Wellington Tenths Trust is unable to properly represent either individuals with customary rights who were not included in the reserves when they were established, or collective interests, in particular the collective interests of Ngati Tama people living in Wellington who whakapapa to tupuna who lived in Whanganui-a-Tara prior to 1840. The Waitangi Tribunal has commented on the inability of such structures to represent collective interests, as was discussed in the Waitangi Tribunal Report on the Taranaki claims in relation to the PKW (Parininihi ki Waitotara) Maori Land Incorporation.
Umbrella groups don't serve their smaller constituent groups well. For example, the Wellington Tenths Trust cannot fairly represent Ngati Tama's specific claims and grievances, or Ngati Tama's Iwi aspirations and aims when its focus is on itself, or Te Atiawa. It is best left to Ngati Tama to speak for itself. An umbrella organisation can only provide a global perspective and only at a higher level. It is like trying to diagnose an infection in your finger by looking at the whole body. Yes, you know there is an infection but unless you examine the finger itself you won't know where the infection is, how it started, and how to prevent it happening again.
It also became evident that a Ngati Tama perspective was not actively represented in the Chatham Islands claim, Wai 64, although Nga Iwi O Taranaki was the umbrella group set up to represent those interests along with a host of other pan-Taranaki interests. It was highly regrettable that the Ngati Tama perspective was conspicuous by its absence in those proceedings. The Waitangi Tribunal, in its Rekohu Report on Moriori and Ngati Mutunga Claims in the Chatham Islands, emphasised repeatedly that Ngati Tama had made no claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in respect of Chatham's issues.