Huakina – 'The fabric of NZ society': A 30 year retrospective and way forward

Huakina – 'The fabric of NZ society': A 30 year retrospective and way forward

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Event type: Symposiums

26-27 Jun 2017 from 10.00 am - 12.00 pm 26th Jun 2017 10:00am 27th Jun 2017 12:00pm

Te Piringa - Faculty of Law, Waikato University & Tainui Endowed College, Hopuhopu, Waikato

A joint project hosted by Victoria University Faculty of Law and Te Piringa Faculty of Law, Waikato University and supported by Waikato-Tainui and the New Zealand Law Foundation.

Symposium and Workshop: Monday 26 June (Hopuhopu), Tuesday 27 June (Waikato University)

There can be no doubt that the Treaty is part of the fabric of New Zealand society.  It follows that it is part of the context in which legislation which impinges upon its principles is to be interpreted.

Huakina Development Trust v Waikato Valley Authority [1987] 2 NZLR 188, 210 per Chilwell J.

This symposium celebrates the 30th year anniversary of the Huakina Decision in which Justice Chilwell made this landmark finding. The High Court imported Māori spiritual and cultural values as criteria governing the Planning Tribunal’s functions under the (former) Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967. Dame Nganeko Minhinnick and the Huakina Development Trust opposed an application for a water right on the basis of Article II of the Treaty and the spiritual values and relationship of the tangata whenua to the waters of the region.  The statue was silent as to the criteria governing applications and this decision was the first to allow the consideration, ruling that Waitangi Tribunal interpretations of the Treaty may assist to ascertain Māori spiritual values. The case played a major role in the inclusion of Māori values in sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Resource Management Act 1991.

The Huakina principle – that the Treaty or Treaty principles are of such significance that they should be presumed mandatory considerations in the context of a statutory power of decision making – has won support from academics and judges. For example McGechan J observed in the RNZ case [1]:

I consider performance with the principles of the Treaty by the Crown should be regarded as required unless there is reason from working or context to consider otherwise.  It is simply not acceptable, in modern thinking, to say there is no need to consider the Treaty.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias
  • Deputy Chief Judge Caren Fox (Deputy Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court and Environment Court Judge)
  • Judge Carrie Wainwright (District Court and Māori Land Court)
  • Sir David Baragwanath
  • Donna Flavell (CEO Waikato-Tainui and expert on freshwater issues)
  • Tina Porou (Expert on Te Mana o Te Wai)
  • Professor David Williams
  • Tom Bennion (Treaty and resource management lawyer).

The symposium and workshop will be beneficial to iwi practitioners in resource management and freshwater issues, local government, lawyers, students and academics.

There is no registration fee for either the Symposium or the Workshop but RSVP is required for each by Wednesday 21 June.

To attend the Symposium, please RSVP to Anna Burnett at

To attend the Workshop, please RSVP to Mylene Rakena at

[1] NZMC v AG (High Court, Wellington, CP NO 40/96, 29 March 1999) 18.

Programme outline:

A 2-day conference on the Huakina case will be held in the Waikato, on 26 & 27 June 2017.

There will be a full-day symposium on the case itself, focusing particularly on its history and use of the case to date, and a half-day workshop focusing on more practical implications and future suggestions.

Some background materials of the case, including some original documents, are available below.

Day 1: Huakina “The Fabric of New Zealand Society” at the Waikato Tainui College of Research and Development, Hopuhopu

9:30am: Registration [tea and coffee available]

10am: Mihi whakatau (welcome) – Rahui Papa (Waikato-Tainui)


10:30am: Carmen Kirkwood, Julie Wade and Rangi Mahuta: A Memorial Tribute to the late Kahurangi Nganeko Kaihau Minhinnick by Huakina Development Trust, her work on this case and others in fighting for the recognition of Māori rights and responsibilities - introduced and chaired by Linda Te Aho.

11.10am: Dame Sian Elias: Reflections on her involvement in the case as barrister; comments on the significance of the case, especially to her later work.

12.10-1.00pm Lunch

Historical aspects:

1pm: Reader Catherine Iorns (Victoria University): Overview of the case and her research project

1:25pm: Emma Cameron (Historian): Historical context of the case

1.45pm: Sir William David Baragwanath: “Of exceptional people and ironies" - reflections from practice [by video]

2pm: Prof David Williams (Auckland): reflections on working with Dame Nganeko, Te Puaha ki Manuka and Huakina Development Trust in the 1970s and 80s [by video]

2:30-3pm: Afternoon tea

Impacts of Huakina on practice and judging:

3pm: Deputy Chief Judge Caren Fox: Taking into account spiritual and cultural values and Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the Environment Court

3:30pm: Tom Bennion (Barrister): Impact on resource management practice

Linking history with today - weaving the fabric of society

4pm: Donna Flavell (Waikato-Tainui): Chief Executive, and Chair of the Freshwater Iwi Advisors Group: Iwi perspectives on Te Mana o Te Wai and the future of freshwater law, policy and practice

4.40pm:   Judge Carrie Wainwright: Closing Keynote

5:10: Tai Ahu (Waikato-Tainui young lawyer): brief reflections and future possibilities

5:30 : Close: Rahui Papa (Waikato-Tainui)

[Transport to Hamilton; Dinner in Hamilton at 6:30pm Ibis Hotel]

Day 2: Water Workshop (half day) at the University of Waikato, Hamilton

Level 3 Seminar Room, Law Building, Hillcrest Road

9am-12pm: Dr Robert Joseph and Julian Williams

Primary source documents [PDFs]:





#01 13/11/81 Nganeko Minhinnick – Memorandum of Appeal 5
#02 16/12/81 Decision No: A116/81 6
#03 28/02/84 Nganeko Minhinnick – Notice of Appeal 10
#04 29/02/84 Nganeko Minhinnick – Notice of Appeal 7
#05 25/07/84 Decision No: A66/84 6
#06 06/11/84 Decision No: A119/84 12
#07 06/11/84 Decision No: A120/84 3
#08 26/07/85 Bowater Water Right Application 4
#09 N/A Bowater Property Map 1
#10 N/A Evidence of Garth Woodward 6
#11 18/03/86 Huakina Development Trust – Supporting Evidence 4
#12 09/05/86 Decision No: C19/86 – Huakina Planning Tribunal Appeal 6
#13 28/05/86 Webb, Morice & Partners – Costs 2
#14 19/06/86 Huakina Development Trust 1
#15 23/06/86 Department of Justice 1
#16 01/07/86 Huakina Development Trust – Memorandum on Costs 3
#17 06/08/86 Decision No: C46/86 – Huakina Supplementary Decision 3
#18 11/08/86 Huakina Development Trust – Notice of Appeal to HC 5
#19 11/08/86 Huakina Development Trust – Extending Time for Appeal 4
#20 02/06/87 Huakina Development Trust v Waikato Valley Authority (HC) 41

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