Thursday, February 1, 2018

Bruce Moon: Ngai Tahu’s crooked path from rags to riches


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".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
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In 1840, the South Island lay practically deserted. Ngai Tahu had been first weakened by the Kai Huaka (Eat Relation) feud, then practially wiped out by Te Rauparaha, who drove the remnants of the tribe away south of Kaiapoi.

Edward Shortland's 1846 census found some 2, 500 Ngai Tahu, resident at several coastal locations. To suggest that 2, 500 people [a] lived on; [b] cultivated; or [c] hunted and gathered over more than 13 million hectares of land is arrant nonsense.

By the 1860s, Ngai Tahu numbers had declined to around 1. 600, of whom one-third were already half-castes.

When the Crown made its final land purchases of the area at the bottom of the South Island and of Stewart Island in 1868, it was obliged to make separate provision of reserves for half-castes, who were not at that time regarded by full-bloods as tribal members.

There are now more than 1 million people residing in the South Island. The fraction of Maori blood present in anyone claiming to be "Ngai Tahu" is clearly negligible in determining that individual's ethnic make-up.

Fakes and frauds the lot of them. For instance, Stephen O'Regan and Sandra Lee are 1/16 Maori. The story is told of O'Regan literally going home from Victoria University of Wellington in the 1970s on a Friday as "Stephen" and coming back on Monday as "Tipene."

Another account is told of Stephen and his daughter Hana (like me 1/32 Ngai Tahu) having dinner with Sir Robert Jones at his Wellington home.

Sir Robert asked Hana what she planned to do after graduating university.

"Work for our people!" he was told.

"Oh, you mean the Irish"? volunteered Sir Robert innocently.

Ngai Tahu were not even the first Maori inhabitants of the South Island. Hardly surprising, since land changed "owners" frequently before 1840, particularly after the coming of the musket, the iron hatchet, and the tupara, as one group of bullyboys repeatedly superseded another.

When Ngai Tahu speak of Mt Cook as a "revered ancestor" it must have been an ancestor of comparatively recent adoption, because Ngai Tahu originally came from the East Cape of the North Island. After migrating south to present-day Wellington, they crossed the Cook Strait around 1790 to colonise the South Island by exterminating Kati Mamoe and Waitaha, its previous inhabitants.

All this modern-day spiritual hokum about "I whakapapa to this mountain" or "to that river" is dreamed up to make whitey feel guilty for his "cultural insensitivity " and hand over large sums of money to make his "guilt" go away.

Asserting that Mt Cook is an ancestor is simply thieves trying to put their claim to the proceeds of robbery and murder beyond doubt.

I repeat: fakes and frauds. Taxpayer-funded barely-brown indigenous pretenders best described as "Pakeha with a little touch of the tar brush" and laughing all the way to the bank.

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