Dame Whina Cooper (seated on right) and others in the public gallery of the Court of Appeal, 5 May 1987.
A landmark Court of Appeal case (Maori Council v Attorney-General) established that the Crown must pay heed to previous Māori ownership when disposing of surplus assets such as land. This followed the break-up of old landholding departments and the establishment of new state-owned enterprises under the 1986 State-Owned Enterprises Act. This Act declared that the Crown could do nothing ‘that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’. The court set out a number of principles it saw encapsulated in or derived from the Treaty.