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Treaty Settlement Services
Treaty Settlement Services
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"I feel very privileged to have served so many iwi in their Treaty settlement negotiations over the past 25+ years. This is an important opportunity for me to use my economic expertise, and professional experience, to contribute to socially-important change for both iwi and all New Zealanders."

Dr Richard Meade, Principal Economist, and Ngāi Tahu Negotiating Group member 1992-98

Used with permission, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
Cognitus has unparalleled institutional knowledge of settlement redress possibilities. On any settlement process with which he is involved, Dr Meade combines this institutional knowledge with his extensive economic and commercial experience and expertise to deliver the best possible outcomes for Cognitus' iwi clients.


Cognitus' Principal Economist, Dr Richard Meade, has been active in Treaty settlements, and other Māori sector work, for over 25 years. Since first acting on the landmark Ngāi Tahu settlement over 1992-98 and subsequently, he has been instrumental in developing numerous innovative settlement features, and acted on many of the most significant settlements achieved to date.


Richard is passionate about the settlements process not only because it helps to restore the relationship between iwi and the Crown after so many decades of poor relations. More importantly, it re-establishes the footprint of Māori in the only country that calls them tangata whenua, and presents an unprecedented opportunity for Māori-led economic and social change benefiting all New Zealanders.


Dr Meade negotiated the relativity mechanism that was included in the Ngāi Tahu settlement (with Waikato-Tainui the only other iwi having such a mechanism), guaranteeing Ngāi Tahu a specific share of the present value of all settlements. As a consequence of that mechanism's implementation, he is well versed in the detail of all settlements agreed to date.


Click here for a downloadable summary of the Treaty settlements acted on by Dr Meade, and the range of Treaty settlement services offered by Cognitus.

Cognitus welcomes approaches by iwi that are either in, or commencing, their settlement negotiations, to discuss the negotiations process and requirements, and how Cognitus might assist in enhancing settlement outcomes. Contact details are provided in the About section, or send Cognitus an email.

Independent Expert Economic Evidence and Testimony before the Waitangi Tribunal - Estimating Māori Claimants' Historical Economic Losses and Required Contemporary Economic Bases
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Mahaki Hearing 2018 - Pene Brown Permiss

In hearings, Dr Meade uses his developed communication skills to demonstrate the reasonableness of his assumptions and approaches, and to assist the Tribunal in understanding the relevant economic ideas.


This is to ensure that his loss estimates are well understood, and accepted as both independent and reliable.

Māhaki hearings, 2018. Used with permission, Pene Brown.

A number of Māori claimants now consider that taking certain types of claim directly to the Waitangi Tribunal for determination can lead to better outcomes than negotiating with the Crown under its Treaty settlement policy:


  • This is because the Waitangi Tribunal has released landmark preliminary determinations in which it signalled its intent to use binding powers of recommendation requiring the Crown to transfer substantial assets and statutory compensation to successful claimants (details below).


In particular, these include claims involving:

  • Crown Forestry Licensed land (CFL land), since the Waitangi Tribunal has the power to make binding recommendations for the Crown to pay compensation related to the value of the forestry assets associated with such land - calculated under a formula in Schedule 1 of the Crown Forest Assets Act - to a successful claimant; and

  • Lands transferred to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) when they were created and which are "tagged" with section 27B memorials, since the Tribunal can recommend that those lands be returned to a successful claimant.

Cognitus has provided expert evidence on behalf of a number of Māori claimants in support of such claims before the Tribunal. This evidence covers matters such as the present day value of:

  • Compensation available in relation to CFL land under Schedule 1 of the Crown Forest Assets Act (CFAA), as well as economic arguments in support of why that compensation is automatically payable in respect of well-founded claims

  • Historical losses arising from Crown Treaty breaches

  • The level of "economic base" a claimant group might require to re-establish its socio-economic position, should the Tribunal prefer its "restorative approach" over compensating losses.


Examples of the types of historical losses valued by Cognitus include:

  • Losses from land confiscations, inadequate consideration for land purchases, and losses caused by individualisation (which results in excessive land sales at unduly low prices, and at unduly high costs)

  • Losses due to undue loss of life (e.g. wrongful killings), and survivors' associated pain and suffering

  • Losses due to wrongful imprisonment, and associated pain and suffering

  • Losses due to the Crown not fairly sharing the benefits created by Māori land with unique suitability for developments creating wider social benefits (such as conservation forestry projects, or electric power schemes).


Parties advised include Mangatū Blocks Incorporated (Wai 814), Te Aitanga a Māhaki (Wai 274, 283, 1489), Ngāi Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi Hapū (Wai 429) and Wairarapa Moana Incorporation (Wai 85):

Dr Meade's evidence expert economic evidence and testimony on the historical losses and required economic bases, of Wairarapa Moana Incorporation and Ngāi Tūmapūhia-ā-Rangi, played a key role in the Waitangi Tribunal's landmark preliminary determinations, released in March 2020.

Those determinations indicated that the Tribunal intends to make binding recommendations for the Maraetai power station currently owned by Mercury Energy, and Ngāumu forest land assets and statutory compensation - with a combined value of up to $1.2 billion - to be transferred to Wairarapa iwi to settle historical claims under the Treaty of Waitangi.


(Tribunal Determinations, WMI Announcement, WMI Press Release)

When preparing expert evidence, Dr Meade assesses the particular circumstances of the claimant group, including any Waitangi Tribunal findings and recommendations:


  • He works with other experts as required (historians, forestry and land valuers, etc) to develop independent, robust and defensible estimates of the group's historical losses using best available economic tools. Where required, he uses his academic research skills to develop new, state-of-the-art economic tools.


  • In hearings, Dr Meade uses his developed communication skills to demonstrate the reasonableness of his assumptions and approaches, and to assist the Tribunal in understanding the relevant economic ideas. This is to ensure that his loss estimates are well understood, and accepted as reliable.

Contact Cognitus to learn more.

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Other Māori Sector Services (E.g. Water/Nitrates Ownership and Allocation, Climate Change Policy Impacts, Etc)
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Māori sector clients often bring Cognitus the same types of questions as non-Māori clients, but with particular needs and focuses. For example, Māori sector clients need to know how policy or regulatory changes affect their interests and strategies, or how ownership and other governance arrangements might be improved.


Māori organisations often face particular challenges in balancing commercial and non-commercial goals (e.g. social, cultural and environmental aspirations) while creating good incentives for performance.


Also, primary industries such as agriculture, forestry and fishing play a relatively high role in the Māori economy. Māori can have a range of geographical and inter-generational focuses not shared by non-Māori to the same degree, as well as distinct socio-economic indicators.


Features such as these mean Māori can be impacted differently to non-Māori by policies such as New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme. These features also offer Māori unique advantages, such as in providing authentic and sustainable tourism opportunities, commitment to New Zealand based activities, or culturally-appropriate social service and educational delivery.

Cognitus' more than 25 years of experience in dealing with Māori sector issues means it has considerable relevant institutional knowledge, and is well placed to tailor its economic advice and analysis, and other services, to the Māori  context.

Examples of Cognitus' Māori sector services - in addition to Treaty settlement negotiation services, and providing independent expert economic evidence and testimony - include:

  • Advising on governance arrangements for shared Māori assets, balancing commercial and non-commercial objectives while providing good incentives for performance (related academic study)

  • Advising on the value impact of climate change policy, or other regulatory changes, on Māori assets

  • Acting for Māori landowners in commercial negotiations for structuring profit-sharing carbon farming ventures.

Expert Evidence   |   Advice   |   Analysis   |   Research   |   Representation   |   Training

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