What legal action has been taken?
Mau Whenua members claim that Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) Trustees have:
Failed to abide by directions of registered members through our votes,
Failed to rectify breaches of the Trust Deed
Failed to provide information requested by registered members, including Mau Whenua members
Failed to engage meaningfully in communications and negotiations initiated by Mau Whenua members
Sold land without the knowledge or consent of beneficial owners/Taranaki Whanui iwi members
Sold land for little or no meaningful return to iwi, but significant profits for developers or others
Failed to utilise the established land and economic development model that has operated successfully for over thirty years Taranaki Whanui (Wellington) members
Failed to describe or demonstrate a viable alternative land and economic development model – even when asked directly by registered members/beneficial owners of the settlement.[i]
Taranaki Whanui members, including Mau Whenua members were becoming increasingly frustrated, disillusioned and angry. A decision was made to take legal action.
[i] At the PNBST’s 2016 AGM at Pipitea Marae, former Treaty negotiator and Trustee Dr Catherine Love asked the PNBST’s Commercial Board (incorporated as Taranaki Whanui Ltd) what their land and economic development was. Then Māori Trustee and Commercial Board member, Jamie Tuuta replied “Monetise”. This one word response was interpreted by many to mean ‘sell land, get capital’.
Three forms of legal action have been taken
1 . Caveats placed on land
Caveats have been placed on land at Shelly Bay. We have put caveats on land owned by Tai-kuru Limited Partnership and former iwi-owned land that is now apparently owned by Shelly Bay Investments Ltd (Ian Cassels being the sole Director of this company) The purpose of the caveats is to prevent further on-sale of land to third parties, and to prevent other changes to the land, titles or consents occurring without notification to Mau Whenua.
Sarah Crawford has also placed caveats on Council owned land at Shelly Bay and Mount Crawford. Sarah Crawford is entitled to do this as the land that she has placed caveats on belonged to her family prior to being compulsorily acquired for ‘Public Works’. Again, the caveats are designed to prevent Wellington City Council on-selling, entering into other arrangements such as long term leases or otherwise materially changing the status of the land without notification being provided to her first.
2 . High Court Action
The High Court action taken by Mau Whenua claims that the sale and purchase of iwi-owned land at Shelly Bay to ‘Shelly Bay Investments Ltd’ was in breach of the law as laid out in the PNBST Trust Deed, and is therefore not a valid sale. The High Court action further claims that the purchaser knew or ought to have known that the sale was invalid. The High Court action seeks to have the sale and purchase agreement unwound, and the land returned to iwi ownership.
3 . Maori Land Court action
In August 2019 an application was filed in the Māori Land Court. The application askes that the management and operations of the PNBST be reviewed, including compliance or non-compliance of the Trust with the requirements of its Trust Deed. The application also asks the MLC to consider the removal of PNBST Trustees if they are found to be operating inappropriately (eg. in breach of the PNBST Trust Deed, in breach of their fiduciary duty, in ways inconsistent with the interests of beneficial owners of the Trust (ie. Taranaki Whanui iwi members)
 At the PNBST’s 2016 AGM at Pipitea Marae, former Treaty negotiator and Trustee Dr Catherine Love asked the PNBST’s Commercial Board (incorporated as Taranaki Whanui Ltd) what their land and economic development was. Then Māori Trustee and Commercial Board member, Jamie Tuuta replied “Monetise”. This one word response was interpreted by many to mean ‘sell land, get capital’.