The Trust grew out of Māori claims to the radio spectrum under Article 2 to the Waitangi Tribunal. Early claims by the New Zealand Māori Council and Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i Te Reo in the early 1990s sought access to FM for Māori radio development before the Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal unanimously agreed in its Wai 150 report that, in relation to the auction of FM radio frequencies, iwi had a ‘prior interest’ in radio spectrum.
This ‘prior interest’ was advanced again by Whatarangi Winiata, Graeme Everton, and the late Rangiaho Everton when the Government continued with the sale of valuable spectrum later in the 1990s. One particular kind of spectrum was the cellphone fixed-point mobile band in the 2-gigahertz band (known by the modern acronym 3G (for third generation)). Its sale led to a further claim by Rangiaho Everton, which succeeded at an interim, and later, a full Waitangi Tribunal hearing in 1999. The Crown noted these reports, but rejected the idea that Māori had an Article 2 interest in the radio spectrum. The Trust was born out of this Crown manoeuvre to outflank Tribunal recommendations in relation to its spectrum auctions.
While rejecting the reports from the Waitangi Tribunal, the Crown unilaterally decided in 1999 to create:
· a reservation of a ‘joint development right’ over one quarter of the 3G spectrum for sale, whereby Māori would have to enter into a viable contract with a commercial partner for use of that spectrum; and
· a charitable trust to represent Māori interests and receive $5m by way of a grant from the Crown.
The $5m was to be used to enter into a commercial relationship with a partner to develop the spectrum right and create a new Trust structure as a mechanism for development – Te Huarahi Tika Trust (Charitable Trust) and its commercial arms. Any new joint development which planned to take up the one quarter of the 3G blocks for sale would still have to purchase the reserved spectrum. The cost would be the lowest price realised at the auction for other 3G spectrum, less a discount of 5%, with payments spread over three years from uplift.
The original claimants were not consulted about these moves and did not support them at the time. After a period, the claimants, through Te Tauihu o Ngā Wānanga, (the national association of wānanga) did make an appointment, namely Piripi Walker, to the Electoral College for Te Huarahi Tika Trust.
The claimants brought their claims together under the WAI2224 claim. They are represented by:
· Huirangi Waikerepuru and Piripi Walker for Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i Te Reo Māori;
· Whatarangi Winiata for the New Zealand Māori Council, and
· Graeme Everton for the Rangiaho Everton Estate
In 2012, the WAI2224 claimants invited Te Huarahi Tika and other Māori groups to form a Spectrum Coalition that would support the claims discussions with the Crown.