Research activities

The Trust works with eligible claimants, claimant counsel and Waitangi Tribunal or Office of Treaty Settlements staff to agree on a programme of research for any district or claimant group where the claims involve, or could involve, Crown forest licensed land. In order for a claim to be successful, eligible claimants need to demonstrate that the Crown has breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by particular actions or omissions of the Crown; and that the claimants have suffered prejudice as a result. Claims may relate to Treaty breaches dating back to 6 February 1840. Claims relating to past actions of the Crown require research reports from professional historians. This technical evidence, produced to a professional standard, is a requirement of both the Waitangi Tribunal and the settlement negotiations processes.

The Trust’s approach to research

The Trust usually commissions two kinds of research: district research, and claimant-specific research projects.

The Trust works with eligible claimants to design a research plan which best reflects their needs.

The research plan should be comprehensive – that is, it should cover all issues raised by claimants that require research and, if it is a part of a district research programme, then it must be of assistance to all claimant communities in a district.

Research work the Trust commissions

Most research falls under one of these five broad categories:

Traditional history and oral history projects

Traditional knowledge as well as other evidence retained or recorded by Māori is a vital component in the development of the claimant evidential base used to advance Treaty of Waitangi claims. High quality traditional evidence provides significant value and depth to the claimant evidential base and research reports prepared by historians and other technical witnesses.

Claimants themselves usually undertake this research, although the Trust can assist in identifying suitably qualified professionals to work alongside groups if needed.

Land alienation-relationship reports

The different categories of land alienation which might be researched within the context of these broader questions include:

  • Old Land Claims (pre-1840);
  • Early Crown purchases (1840-1865);
  • Pre-emption waiver purchases (1844-1846);
  • Raupatu (land confiscations);
  • Post-1865 Native Land Court transactions (Crown and private);
  • Public works takings, and
  • Land consolidation and development schemes.
Other reports

In order for a claim to be successful it is necessary to prove not only that the Crown breached the Treaty of Waitangi, but also that the breach had harmful consequences for the claimant group concerned. This proof is part of the purpose of socio-economic impact reports, which explore issues such as health, housing, education, employment and demographic issues and consider the links between land alienation and consequent socio-economic marginalisation.

Research Assistance projects

The Trust commissions Research Assistance projects in order to enable preliminary research to start in advance of a full district research programme. Research Assistance projects avoid duplication of effort and the reports are made widely available.

The types of Research Assistance projects the Trust commissions include compilations of:

  • Newspaper searches (Māori Language and local newspapers);
  • Register searches;
  • Block research narratives and document banks;
  • Te Reo Māori language documents, and
  • Native/Māori school records.
Claimant-specific research

The Trust may commission claimant-specific research where an eligible claimant group demonstrates that a specific research project is required for either the Waitangi Tribunal or Settlement Negotiations process.

Mapping services

Map Putiki reserve block

Eligible claimant groups can use maps to support claimant evidence before the Waitangi Tribunal hearings or in settlement negotiations with the Crown. The Trust’s Funding and Contracts Manager (Mapping) works with eligible claimant groups and historians to identify maps which can complement research.

Maps provide geographical and chronological views of a wide range of alienation events, including raupatu areas, Crown and private land purchases, land development schemes and historic land block ownership. Maps can be used to illustrate the rohe of the claimant group, sites of significance (wāhi tapu), and land which remains in Māori ownership.

Maps can be developed in a variety of formats including printed copy, digital formats and specific images for use in Microsoft Powerpoint. Virtual 3D maps are becoming popular in hearings and negotiations. Because many maps use confidential information supplied by Māori, they are not available in the public domain. If you would like to enquire about access to Trust maps, please use Contact Us.

Ownership of research

As a general rule the Trust owns all research it commissions. This is always the case with respect to reports produced as part of a District Research Programme. In order to avoid duplication of research it is almost always necessary to commission district overview reports on issues that affect most claimant groups in a district. The Trust retains ownership of these types of reports.

The Trust has no interest in retaining the ownership of other types of research. This is particularly true with respect to claimant-specific oral history projects, traditional history projects and claimant-specific research projects. In these cases the Trust will consider transferring ownership to the claimant group for whom the research has been commissioned.

Once filed for a Waitangi Tribunal hearing, generic overview map books are available in the public domain. Claimant-specific map books, on the other hand, are owned by claimants.


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