Sunday, November 18, 2012
Mike Butler: Flaky Ngati Whatua report fisked
Sometimes, light-weight bleeding-heart commentary needs to be taken to task. Today, Brian Rudman of the New Zealand Herald is in the gun for his article “Joe Hawke gains victory”. A “fisking”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is where a commentator is beaten through his words, often interspersing criticisms with the original article's text. The term is named after Robert Fisk, a reporter known for anti-western writings.
Rudman: Yesterday in Parliament, the long struggle for justice, reignited by Joe Hawke and his fellow squatters in the 1970s, finally came to an end with an apology from the Crown, and ritual compensation by way of cash and land.
As I recall, the dispute around the 507-day occupation of Bastion Point, 5.3 ha of land that was taken under the Public Works Act in 1886 for military use, was settled in 1988, when the land was returned with compensation and an apology. Another dispute detailed in the Wai 9 claim lodged in 1986 by Joe Hawke and others that focussed on grievances around the 700 acres known as the Orakei Block, was enshrined in the Orakei Act 1991 in which nearly 65 hectares were returned to Ngati Whatua o Orakei . The current settlement is Ngati Whatua’s third bite of the cherry.
Rudman: The Ngati Whatua "had gained rights," according to the circumspect language of the "agreed historical account", in what is now the Super City boundaries by 1740, by right of conquest and occupation. Inter-tribal conflicts in the 1820s made them "temporarily relocate" to Waitakere and then Waikato, but from 1835 they'd started to reoccupy the Tamaki isthmus.
The fact is that Ngati Whatua had only occupied the Auckland area from the mid-18th century until 1822, probably about the same length of time that many of the residents at a public meeting at the Navy Gym earlier this year over including Navy land in the Ngati Whatua settlement, have lived in Devonport. Ngati Whatua did not occupy Auckland for very long before driven out by a Nga Puhi war expedition led by Hongi, Rewa and Patuone in November 1822. Ngati Whatua were happy to SELL large parcels of land to incoming settlers because they were too frightened to live there without a settler presence. This “temporary relocation” is claimant-speak in a bid to convey the idea that they really were in an area even though they were not there.
Rudman: To protect themselves from Ngapuhi muskets, Ngati Whatua exchanged the 1214ha triangle of today's central Auckland, stretching along the coast from Cox's Bay to Hobson Bay and south to Mt Eden - all of present day Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Newmarket, Parnell and the city centre - for 50, 20 pairs of trousers, 20 shirts, 10 waistcoats, 10 caps, four casks of tobacco, one box of pipes, 91m of gown pieces, 10 iron pots, one bag of sugar, one bag of flour and 20 hatchets.
Yes, Ngati Whatua SOLD the land, and for more than the collection of items Rudman listed. A quick check on the Office of Treaty Settlements summary of the Ngati Whatua settlement reveals that the tribe initially sold around 3500 acres of land (the central city area of Auckland) to government officials in September 1840 for £50 in coin and goods amounting to approximately £215. Over the next two years the tribe sold a further 29,000 acres to the Crown for around £640 plus other goods.
The land area of Auckland is 489,400ha. It is recorded that by the end of 1842 Government agents had purchased from chiefs land totalling 92,000ha (227,200 acres) the price being £4,196 25, or just a little over 4d (four pence – as in 240 pennies in ₤1) per acre. From 1862 to 2012, that amount would have inflated, according to the Reserve Bank inflation calculator, to $461,579.71. Remember, the government bought unimproved land, the value of which grew as the area was developed.
Ngati Whatua repeat the fiction that they "lost" the land, blaming the government. The tribe did not "lose" the land; their ancestors SOLD the land.
The fact that the land was sold by willing sellers to willing buyers was confirmed in a 1975 Court hearing presided over by Justice Speight and endorsed by Ngati Whatua elders.
Rudman: But no one reading the history could deny that Ngati Whatua were royally shafted by the servants of Queen Victoria sent out to protect their interests.
Bearing in mind that the public works taking in the Bastion Point row, and the alleged forced sales by 13 owners who allegedly should have held the Orakei block in trust, are both outside the scope of this latest settlement, the main aspect of Ngati Whatua’s third settlement is a big sense of sellers’ remorse among the vendor chiefs, a grievance that has been nursed over the decades as mothers suckled their infant sons and daughters. Sellers developed this remorse when they saw the colonial government, which had the monopoly right to buy land from chiefs and on-sell it to settlers, using the profit to fund administration, sold this land attaining a profit of £68,865. Between 1844 and 1845, the Crown allowed chiefs to sell more land directly to settlers, enacting regulations to protect Maori. Claimants argued that the Crown did not apply these regulations correctly.
Rudman: It was the servants of the Crown who proved to be the worst diddlers of all, locking Maori into derisory sale prices, supposedly to protect the simple natives from the speculators.
The Deed of Settlement details how Ngati Whatua o Orakei hosted the month-long Kohimarama Conference in July of 1860, where the bulk of 200 chiefs attending gave emphatic support to the colonial government and the Treaty of Waitangi. It would appear that Ngati Whatua were happy with the situation at that time, which was after the bulk of the land had been sold. Why did they become unhappy? Most likely, the prestige of being able to sell such large tracts of land had faded, and the sales proceeds had been spent.
Rudman: In Ngati Whatua's case, the Crown was supposed to set aside land for Maori in perpetuity and use the land sales profits to build schools and hospitals for the locals. Little or none of this happened.
Er, excuse me. Auckland Hospital, Middlemore, schools as far as the eye can see, universities, roads, water reticulation, sewage, electricity. Does this not count? Or does Rudman believe the government should have provided a school and hospital for every kaianga?
Rudman: Yesterday's agreement doesn't erase old wrongs, or fully compensate for them.
This is what claimants always say when the settlement windfall lands. Let me see. British settlement enabled Ngati Whatua to return to Auckland, sell undeveloped land, benefit from settlement, and get paid for it all over again. How wonderful are the ways of the wicked white coloniser.
Rudman: I was on the phone to Ngati Whatua firebrand Joe Hawke hoping for a story. He didn't disappoint.
Joe Hawke and the Hawke family never disappoint when it comes to a news story. Joe has the esteemed reputation of having lodged Wai 1, in October 1976, when Joe Hawke, Henry Matthews, Te Witi McMath, and Rua Paul became the first claimants to the Waitangi Tribunal with a claim relating to fishing rights in the Waitemata Harbour. Specifically, the claim concerned the matter of prosecutions brought by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries pursuant to regulations 106K(2) and 106KA(3) of the Fisheries (General) Regulations 1950. Does not Joe Hawke's Wai 1 claim sound like the numerous fishing situations in which the treaty is invoked?
Joe Hawke gains victory, NZ Herald, November 16, 2012,http://www.nzherald.co.nz/maori/news/article.cfm?c_id=252&objectid=10847713
at 11:05 AM