All is not as it seems in the grievance-redress world, because while Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia blubbered her way through her speech to Parliament during the past week, three of the four bills being rushed through were awarding compensation to tribes who had breached the Treaty of Waitangi.
Breached the treaty, you may ask, we have never heard of Maori breaching the treaty? If the treaty is a solemn agreement between several signatories, if some parties to the agreement take up arms against the others, surely that would constitute a breach of the treaty? That is exactly what some members of Gisborne tribes Ngai Tamanuhiri and Rongowhakaata, and Bay of Plenty tribe Ngati Makino did about 150 years ago.
Because history becomes buried in politics and rhetoric when aired in parliament, here are the basic details of the bills involving Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Ngati Makino, and a settlement related to the Maraeroa A and B blocks of land in the Taupo area:
1. Ngai Tamanuhiri, which claims 1700 members, will get $11.07-million plus interest, and will have Young Nick’s Head historic reserve and land at Mangapoike transferred to them. The governance entity will receive $180,000 for a cultural revitalisation plan, plus $100,000 for a memorial to those killed in the 1860s.
Some Ngai Tamanuhiri fought with Pai Marire (Hauhau), the “good and peaceful” movement that brought war to the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast in 1865 when members murdered missionary Carl Volkner at Opotiki, beheaded him, drank his blood, and ate his eyes. Some Ngai Tamanuhiri were exiled to the Chatham Islands, and later fought with Te Kooti, against the government. Te Kooti, originally a government fighter, was accused of being a Hauhau, imprisoned without trial, created the Ringatu religion, and waged guerrilla war with massacres at Matawhero and Mohaka, killing settlers and Maori alike. (1)
2. Rongowhakaata, which claims 4700 members, will receive $22.24-million plus interest, will be given five properties, two sale and leaseback properties will be available to buy, may buy four surplus Crown properties through a six-month deferred selection, a right of first refusal for a period of 169 years over five properties, and a right of first refusal for a period of 100 years over two public conservation land sites. The tribe receives two payments of $250,000 for Te Whare Rakei o Te Kooti Rikirangi, $200,000 for Nga Uri o Te Kooti Rikirangi, $360,000 for Rongowhakaata cultural revitalisation, and $100,000 for a memorial to those killed in the 1860s wars.
Some Rongowhakaata fought with Pai Marire (Hauhau), were exiled to the Chatham Islands, and later fought with Te Kooti, against the government. A large Crown force, including pro-government Maori fighters, pursued the Te Kooti’s renegades to Ngatapa pa where, in January 1869, 120 prisoners were executed. The person who led the executions (prisoners were shot and fell over a cliff) was Rapata Wahawaha, of Ngati Porou, who used the campaign against Te Kooti to wreak vengeance on Rongowhakaata since he had been enslaved by them as a child. Rapata was awarded the NZ Cross for bravery and determination in the wars. (2)
3. Ngati Makino, which claims 2000 members, receives $9.8-million plus interest, has already received $1.5-million for marae restoration, right of first refusal over five sites of public conservation land, and right to a sale and leaseback of the Otamarakau School land. Eight sites totalling 720 hectares will be vested in the tribal group.
Some Ngati Makino members fought for the Maori king against the government in the 1860s and others for the government. Claimants say confiscation of 448,000 acres of land in the Eastern Bay of Plenty hurt the tribe, as did subsequent land sales involving the Native Land Court. (3)
4. Compensation over the Maraeroa A and B Blocks is worth $1.578-million. Maraeroa A (19,900 acres) and B (13,000 acres) blocks were part of the Maraeroa block, a subdivision of the Tauponuiatia West block, which was part of Te Rohe Potae district in the Lake Taupo area. Title was awarded after Native Land Court sittings that started in 1885. The process was complicated by disputes over entitlement, boundaries, and surveys. Subsequent issues involved milling native timber, and exotic forestry. Descendents claim compensation for benefits they feel they missed out on. (4)
When Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said of four bills that "It is well established the breaches of the treaty were found to be very serious”, it would appear he believes the government did wrong, although he may be unaware that numbers of Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, and Ngati Makino people backed a loser by fighting against the government.
Many assume that these grievances have been nursed for 150 years, but most only go back to 1985, when former Justice Minister Geoffrey Palmer enabled inquiries back to 1840. Once the grievance floodgates were opened, a total of 2034 claims were registered with the Waitangi Tribunal between 1985 and June 2009. However, in 1882, when chiefs took a list of grievances to England, there were only nine complaints, and that was 10 years after the final shots in the sovereignty wars and land confiscations.
Why was there no big clamour about injustice after the 1860s wars? A little insight may be gleaned from this: When 400 Hauhaus formally surrendered and took the oath of allegiance near Wairoa in April 1866, pro-government chief Pitera Kopu said: ‘For your offences your lands are confiscated, but you will not be landless; the government will allot you reserves, which will be Crown-granted to you for your use and occupation.” But he had his own warning for the prisoners:
. . that they had now been taken prisoner of war and that they had not come back in an honorable way, but finding themselves in the wrong, had crawled back as slaves, and by right should be treated as such, but the tikanga of the Pakeha was one of aroha, and if they behaved well they would be treated fairly, but if they went astray once more there would be no safety for them, for he would follow them up and not leave one alive. He reminded them of several of their ringleaders who had fallen, as utu for their mischief & mentioned that those who had got away for the present – he would follow up and never leave till he took them prisoner or killed them. (5)
Maori fighters knew only too well that if they were fighting under Maori rules, prisoners would be executed and worse. Pro-government leader Rapata Wahawaha executed 120 unarmed prisoners at Ngatapa pa in 1869 and that was not OK, according to Waitangi Tribunal’s 21st century standards of morality, but that sort of thing was not a problem when chief Te Rangihaeata executed 12 settlers who had surrendered at Wairau (Nelson) in 1843.
Enabling the investigation of claims back to 1840 was the height of naiveté. Of course there were going to be a lot of claims. After the big commercial fisheries (1992) and Waikato (1995) settlements, of $170-million each, it was clear a lot of money had been put up for grabs.
As settlement bills move through the House, MPs spend a lot of time in self-aggrandisement and mutual backslapping. This hides the fact that democracy is suspended while these settlements are entered into, because from the time the Minister of Treaty Negotiations and tribal representatives sign the agreement it is legally binding. All subsequent debate, select committee hearings, and votes are just a window-dressing waste of time.
Paying compensation to descendants of those who tribes people who fought against the government, lost, and were punished, is like compensating the grandchildren of Germans, Japanese, and Italians defeated in the Second World War. The New Zealand governments going down this historical compensation road do indeed lead the world – in stupidity.
According to Green MP David Clendon, “those who denigrate or those who are simply ignorant of some of the history of this country and the history that underlies these settlement bills would do well, I think, to inform themselves.” He was speaking on the first reading of the Ngai Tamanuhiri Claims Settlement Bill on February 16.
But it appears that Clendon and the other 121 MPs are ignorant of our actual history, and want us all to read the made-up version in which wicked colonisers take advantage of noble chiefs. This lop-sided narrative is being extended every time a treaty settlement is rushed through the House.
1. Ngai Tāmanuhiri Settlement Summary, http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/LiveArticle.asp?ArtID=-481637425
2. Rongowhakaata Settlement Summary, http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/livearticle.asp?ArtID=-925771298
3. Ngāti Mākino Settlement Summary, http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/LiveArticle.asp?ArtID=211767281
4. Maraeroa A and B Block Settlement Deed, http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/DocumentLibrary/MaraeroaDeedHistoricalClaimsDOS.pdf
5. Mike Butler, “The First Colonist”, Dunmore Publishing, 2010, page 95.