Weakened by their own “Eat Relation” feud, continually outwitted and savagely defeated by the wily Te Rauparaha, most Ngai Tahu by 1840 were a desperate lot. A mere two thousand or so were eking out a living in a few squalid villages.
Even in the extreme south which escaped such ravages “They were altogether a dejected people.[i] ... [F]or every child born, from three to four persons died. No wonder that they had lost heart and felt as if there were no spirit of life left in them”.[ii] And cannibalism persisted, even that late.[iii]
They had already sold nearly all the land which was nominally theirs, 135 records of sales south of Kaikoura being registered in Sydney.[iv] By 1840 of course, there were several whaling stations established at or near a Maori “kaik”.[v] Many of the whalers were not exactly “plaster saints” but most took Maori wives, adopting a more or less regular existence. Of “about forty [at Waikouaiti] ... nearly thirty were living with Maori women as their wives”.[vi] In this practice, missionary Wohlers noted much improvement. “Maori women ... when joined to a Pakeha husband, had plenty of healthy children”.[vii] Thus: “Tame Haereroa Parata[viii] was born on Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait, probably between 1832 and 1838. His father, Captain Trapp, ... was an American whaler from Massachusetts. His mother was Koroteke, a woman of aristocratic descent of Ngati Huirapa, a hapu of Ngai Tahu.”[ix]
Moving to Karitane, the former Waikouaiti “kaik”, the family changed its name to “Pratt”, later Maorified to “Parata”. On 24th June 1914, “Henare Parata, or Henry Pratt” sold a four-acre block there to my own grandfather.[x] It was not the first sale. With most of their pre-treaty sales nullified by Hobson’s proclamation of 30th January 1840, eager selling by tribal members continued apace, more than 38 million acres of South Island land of no commercial value and almost worthless to the owners was sold between 1844 and 1860 plus Stewart Island in 1864.[xi] Despite this eagerness to sell, Government officers showed clear restraint. An offer “to sell off the residue of Maori land lying south of the Molyneux towards Foveaux Strait ... to the White men for Ever” was declined with a firm but courteous refusal.[xii]
Yet today, National list MP, Nuk Korako, writes of the “wrong” which was “the Crown’s massive theft of Maori land”[xiii] and pale-faced red-headed Sacha McMeeking, Ngai Tahu appointee on the University of Canterbury Council, speaks of “the value of dispossessed lands ... between $12 and $13 billion.”[xiv] And Joshua Hitchcock[xv] chimes in with “the Crown’s own research ... indicated that the total value of the loss suffered by Ngāi Tahu amounted to $16 billion. The price of relativity is little more than a drop in the bucket when compared to the actual loss suffered by Māori.” The actual truth is that these billions are the present value of that land, owed entirely to the hard labour and investment of its owners since. These brazen distortions of the truth by such persons in positions of influence are all-too-typical of the fake history with which our country is awash today. Ignorance is no excuse. They fail in their clear responsibility to acquaint themselves properly with the true facts of our history.
The tribe soon found out that complaining brought them rich pickings. The first was when land purchase officer Henry Kemp, in making a major purchase in 1848, had failed to set out the reserves which they had been promised. The reason was simply that it was winter, the rivers were high, the bush trackless and surveying impossible. Kemp was dismissed and his successor, Mantell finished the job. Complaint followed complaint and yet more land and cash were allocated to Ngai Tahu. In 1969 their fourth “full and final” settlement was negotiated. As the then Southern Maori MP, Whetu Tregerthen-Sullivan reported, at as many as 80 tribal meetings, 109 formal resolutions were passed accepting the offer. In Parliament, she rejected an argument that their claims had not been fully and finally settled.
Now most people would surely think that that was that – that these people of predominantly white ancestry had been more than adequately compensated for any wrongs their brown ancestors had allegedly suffered. But no! Along came the Waitangi Tribunal, with its flawed procedures and distorted outlook, presenting an opportunity for a try-on too good to miss. It worked! On a claim thoroughly analysed by Alan Everton,[xvi] described by him as a swindle and a fraud, in which Denis Hampton’s[xvii] study concurred, the Tribunal gave a favourable report. On that basis, the compliant government of Jim Bolger, backed by Doug Graham,[xviii] gave them in 1998 a settlement worth $170 million, or about $80,000 for each 1840 member of the tribe. They also asked for and got a so-called “relativity clause” for top-ups in due course, and so another $180 million in December 2017– our money and tax-free.
And we, the rest of the people of New Zealand, in our ignorance, apathy and lethargy, let all this happen under our very noses. What a collection of mugs we are – cash cows for Ngai Tahu and similarly avaricious tribes such as Tainui around the country. Nor should we think even that is the end of the matter. “That is not the Maori way”, as reportedly said by the son of an Irish father, one-sixteenth Ngai Tahu, Steve O’Regan. Perhaps now is the time to tell him and his ilk that there is also another way.
[i] Tuhawaiki, known as “Bloody Jack”, sadly drowned in 1844, was a notable exception
[ii] JFH Wohlers, “Conversion and Civilisation of the Maories of the Far South of New Zealand”, Trans. NZ Inst., XIV,1881, p. 126
[iii] J Christie, “History of Waikouaiti”, Christchurch Press Co. Ltd, 1927, p.129
[iv] I have details, by courtesy of Jean Jackson
[v] J Christie, op.cit., e.g. p.74.
[vi] Ibid., p. 38
[vii] JFH Wohlers, op. cit., p. 128
[viii] Probably actually Thomas Pratt
[ix] Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
[x] The certificate of title is in my possession.
[xi] For details, see M Butler, “Twisting the Treaty”, ISBN 1-872970-33-8, 2013, pp. 139ff
[xii] JL Stokes, Captain HMS “Acheron”, to the would-be sellers, 19/12/1850, quoted by S Natusch, “Rugged Shores”, ISBN 0-9582140-6-9, pp. 90-1
[xiii] N Korako, letter to H Moseley, 22/9/16
[xiv] S McMeeking, “The Press”, 2/7/11, p. C5
[xv] J Hitchcock, “The Spinoff”, 25/1/18
[xvi] A Everton, “Ngai Tahu’s Tangled Web”, Free Radical, Nos. 26-8, August- December 1996
[xvii] D Hampton, “Evening Post”, 3/4/98
[xviii] Subsequently convicted for unrelated financial irregularities
Bruce Moon is a retired computer pioneer who wrote "Real Treaty; False Treaty - The True Waitangi Story".