Sunday, June 2, 2013
Mike Butler: De-knighting treaty sugar daddy
While Prime Minister John Key is agonising over whether former National Cabinet Minister Sir Douglas Graham should be stripped of his knighthood, here are a few aspects of the beleaguered knight’s record on treaty settlements, often quoted as his saving grace. Graham, who went down in the 2008 collapse of the Lombard finance company along with Bill Jeffries, Lawrence Bryant, and Michael Reeves, had appeals against their sentences for their roles in the failure rejected on Thursday, and were told that their sentences were “manifestly inadequate”.
Some who had lost money in the collapse repeated their call for Graham to be de-knighted.
Graham can be regarded as the sugar daddy of the treaty industry because he arranged the precedent-setting deals that meant big bucks for claimants. As Treaty Negotiations Minister from 1991 with the Bolger National government, he completed 10 agreements totalling $522,233,000 before he retired from politics in 1999.
These included the $170-million commercial fisheries deal in 1992, the $760,000 Ngati Rangiteaorere and $716,000 Hauai settlements in 1993; the $5.21-million Ngati Whakaue Rotorua deal in 1994; the $170-million Waikato/Tainui raupatu deal, the $375,000 Waimakuku deal, $43,000 Rotoma deal, and the $129,000 Te Maunga deal, all in 1995; as well as the $170-million Ngai Tahu settlement in 1998, and the $5-million Ngati Turangitukua settlement in 1999.
It is quite likely that he was involved in up to 10 other settlements completed after he retired from politics, because he was involved with the Te Roroa deal that was passed into law in 2008. He continued as a treaty negotiator after politics, earning $186,901 since 2008.
Graham was Treaty Negotiations Minister while Maori “rights” to commercial fisheries were resolved in 1992, not by law, and not based on historical fact, but by negotiation. Crown negotiators presented offers until the claimants were satisfied with one worth an initial $170-million, plus a perpetual annual cashflow.
Arguably, that 1992 deal created an expectation among claimants that no matter what was claimed, lofty arguments claiming “justice” and “Maori rights” would mean that a guilt-ridden government would always give something for nothing.
Graham was the Minister at the helm when the Crown entered into the 1995 Waikato-Tainui settlement while ignoring the fact that the Waikato-Maniapoto Maori Claims Settlement Act 1946, passed on October 7, 1946, was described as a final settlement of grievances over the confiscation of Maori lands in the Waikato and provided for the establishment of the Tainui Maori Trust Board to receive £5000 a year in perpetuity plus a further £5000 and £1000 a year for 45 years, to cover arrears since 1936.
Clause 5 of the agreed history in the deed that Graham signed as a witness contains the fiction that “all sources agree that the Tainui people never rebelled but were attacked by British troops in direct violation of Article 2 of the treaty”.
This opened the way for every descendant of every tribe that fought against the Crown during the 1860s to rewrite their histories in a way that wicked white colonisers attacked them while they were innocently minding their own business.
Graham arranged a fifth final settlement for South Island tribe Ngai Tahu, passed into law in 1998, even though they were, at the time, receiving $20,000 a year as a result of the 1973 modification of their third settlement in 1944.
Graham negotiated relativity top-ups with both Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu, so his generosity lives on for them, although there is no record of either tribe saying a word of support during Sir Douglas’ time of trial. Those top-up clauses provide Waikato-Tainui with 17 percent of settlements over $1-billion and Ngai Tahu with 16.1 percent, and were triggered one year ago.
Graham’s years of showing claimants the money fueled the flawed treaty settlement formula, which, courtesy of the Waitangi Tribunal’s broad re-definition of a grievance, allows tribal trusts everywhere to await multi-million dollar payouts irrespective of their history, and co-governance deals for coastline, water, air, biodiversity, minerals, intellectual property – you name it.
Key describes Graham’s role in this as blazing “a trail for what has been an important part of the healing process and reconciliation for New Zealand". Judging by the allegations of racism over the past week over poverty cartoons, we may be less healed and reconciled than we were in 1991.
at 11:05 AM