TV3 presenter John Campbell told his audience last week that he felt slightly ashamed admitting that he didn't know much about Northland tribe Ngapuhi and their mega treaty payout expectations, so he grabbed his microphone and cameraman and went north to learn. Sadly, all he revealed little more than we already knew. Chief Ngapuhi claimant Sonny Tau was first to speak:
Campbell: How much land did Ngapuhi lose?Firstly, why did Campbell and Tau use the word “lose”? The word "lose" means "be deprived of or cease to have or retain". Both Campbell and Tau used the words “lose” or “lost” in the sense that the Maori Anglican minister used it in a sermon on Waitangi Day last year. He said: “The missionaries taught us to pray and when we opened our eyes all our land was gone”. Campbell and Tau should be a bit more honest and say Ngapuhi sold most land in the area claimed as Ngapuhi tribal district.
Tau: We lost by dubious means 2.1-million acres of land
Tau alleges “dubious means”. What were those dubious mean? Campbell does not ask and Tau does not tell but the slur remains.
Tau: Ngapuhi in terms of an economy in the north here, Ngapuhi is really deprived. It’s at a low point in our development at this point of time. There are some people continuing to live in cowshed and tents and caravans and its just devastation in Ngapuhi itself.Deprived? Really? The Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi is not deprived, according to its financial report for the year to June 2013, which shows a consolidated group revenue of $19.2-million – the equivalent of a medium-sized company.(1) Most income comes from fishery assets including the sale of annual catch entitlement, profits from the tribe’s fishing joint venture, and dividends from Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd. (The report says Ngapuhi charters foreign vessels.)
Other income derives from property investments, a petrol station, and a stationery shop. Operating profit is $5.2-million, after employee remuneration of $3.2-million and unspecified “other expenses” of $10.4-million. Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi is registered as a charitable trust so pays no tax on profits although it would pay and claim back GST on its commercial ventures.
Distributions included $20,000 for discretionary funding, $85,000 for scholarships, $25,000 for sponsorship, and $109,000 in hapu funding – a total of $239,000 from the $5.2-million profit.
Campbell introduces elder John Klaricich, by saying: “History is in John Klaricich, first-hand accounts of the 1860s, when the New Zealand Settlements Act was passed in Parliament with the purpose of mass land confiscation often without any compensation at all.”
Was any land confiscated in the Ngapuhi area? No!. Why does Campbell allude to land confiscations in a report on Ngapuhi if not to create the impression that Ngapuhi were subjected to mass land confiscations?
The New Zealand Settlements Act 1863 was a response to armed conflict in Taranaki and Waikato, that spread to the Bay of Plenty and down the East Coast. The Act enabled land confiscation to punish tribes that had rebelled and to deter others from joining in the rebellion. The threat of confiscation was an effective tool for the government in the 1860s and helped the government ultimately win the series of conflicts.
Why did Campbell not link the confiscations with the armed conflict? Failure to do so, and failure to specify that there were no confiscations in the Ngapuhi area meant Campbell misled his audience into thinking that Ngapuhi suffered land confiscation.
After a drive through Kaikohe showing numerous empty shops, Campbell asks Kaikohe College principal Jim Luders, who noted that 50 percent of his pupils were from welfare-dependent homes, what difference a treaty settlement would make for Ngapuhi.
Luders: “Massive, massive. It’s all about their mana. It’s all about their pride. And it’s about their ability to actually provide for their people. This is the biggest tribe in New Zealand. This is the most powerful tribe in New Zealand and we know what happened to that. We know where their land went. We know where their mana and power went. It’s time to give it back.Top marks for generosity and enthusiasm but what happened to the land? Ngapuhi forebears sold it at agreed prices. They sold land before 1840. They had those sales investigated soon after 1840. They carried on selling land and living it up. Do you expect the purchaser of a house you sold in the past give it back to you because he has done it up and the value has increased? Me neither.
A settlement of $280-million, the amount Campbell suggested, to the mandated Tuhoronuku entity, should push Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi annual revenue over the $30-million mark, making Ngapuhi a large company. Ngapuhi are a medium sized business that is aiming to be a big business and is crying poverty to get there. Based on Ngapuhi’s current rate of distribution, how much do you think would be shared from a $280-million settlement?
How far would $280-million go if distributed among Ngapuhi’s 125,000 members, most of who live in South Auckland? Equally divided, each Ngapuhi, man, woman, and child, would get $2240, which would pay the unemployment benefit for a single person over 25 for about 11 weeks. The government may already be spending more than $12-million every week to keep jobless Ngapuhi housed and fed, and this expenditure would continue after any settlement, whatever it may be.
Campbell can ask hard questions. So why did he not ask any hard questions in this 10-minute clip that aired last Tuesday? With Ngapuhi angling for a massive handout, Campbell’s audience could expect a little more balance than the PR puff that was delivered.
1. Whakatupu – for the next generation. http://www.ngapuhi.iwi.nz/Data/Sites/3/downloads-folder/annualreports/ar2013_final_web.pdf