Tuesday, September 16, 2008


In New Zealand thousands of claims were filed by Maori prior to recent deadline imposed by the government for historic claims under what is known as the Treaty of Waitangi (pictured here is one of the original documents).

In fact, Treaty tribunal director Darrin Sykes said this year over 2000 claims had been received - 98 per cent in August. "It's been pretty huge," he said. "They came through in truckloads and we still had faxes and emails coming through right up to 11.59."

Maori Land Court Chief Judge Joe Williams, who chairs the tribunal, has said he was pleased by the big lift in claims.

Judge Williams said several landmark treaty settlements had been made in recent months, and this suggested the Government's aim to have settlements completed by 2020 was achievable.

However, Maori Party spokesman Te Ururoa Flavell said he was worried that some small iwi had insufficient resources to meet the deadline.

Many Māori have been concerned that the level of redress provided was too low, and that the settlement process was subject to too much Crown control.

Peter Adds, a negotiator and Head of Maori Studies at Victoria University, believes the cut-off will deny some Maori a chance to make a claim and that in turn breaches the Treaty.

"Undoubtedly there will be Maori that miss out it's an inevitable part of this process anyway one of the thing this process creates in the haves and the have-nots," Adds told New Zealand's 3News.

"At the end of the day we have been on a long journey in relation to treaty settlements and there's been a rush in the last few weeks and I'm quite clear if we want to move on to get Maori to that better space then we have to move on," says Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia.

But 'moving on' could still take some time. The Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act states that any claim made before today's deadline can still be altered in any way...

"I think there is a public perception out there that Maori people have got too much already and that there does need to be some finality to the process," says Adds. "I'm not sure that a particularly well informed opinion but that's certainly the opinion that's out there and the one the government's reacting to."

"I'm clear as a whole lot of my colleagues are that maori want to move on," says Horomia. "They want to settle their claims, they want to get cracking they recognise any settled society like our, there times come, and our has come now."

Four northern Maori leaders scoffed at the English translation of the Treaty of Waitangi and are seeking the restoration of rights guaranteed by Te Tiriti, the Maori language pact with the Crown signed by their ancestors.

The four - Sonny Tau, Hone Sadler and Patu Hohepa, all of Ngapuhi, and Erima Henare, of Ngati Hine - just beat the Waitangi Tribunal's midnight Monday deadline on historical claims by filing only hours earlier.

The four claimants say the Crown deliberately used the English translation of Te Tiriti to take action and make laws subordinating the people of Ngapuhi-nui-tonu, which extends from Auckland to Cape Reinga and includes all the northern tribes.

"The Crown promoted the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles as mechanics of deprivation and as a programme to transfer the political and economic power of the iwi to itself," the claim says.

"Nearly two centuries of forced subjugation has placed Ngapuhi-nui-tonu into a position of reliance and dependency on Pakeha ideas and aspirations. This has led directly to poor housing, lowly paid jobs, poor health, high suicide incidences and other disproportionate poverty-based indicators.

"This is a direct result of diminishing rangatiratanga (sovereignty) and the associated lack of ability to provide for your own."

The claim asserts legal, economic and political authority over Ngapuhi-nui-tonu lands, assets and people are the sole domain of the iwi.

"Te Tiriti affirms that understanding and guarantees the full exclusive and undisturbed authority, rangatiratanga and possession of our tikanga (customs) and lands, forests, fisheries and other taonga."

Rangatira who signed Te Tiriti had expected the Crown to honour the Tiriti obligations. They had agreed the Crown should exercise kawanatanga (government) over Pakeha, subject to Ngapuhi protection.

The claim asks the tribunal to look into breaches of Te Tiriti affecting Ngapuhi-nui-tonu and make recommendations to restore Ngapuhi-nui-tonu's rangatiratanga and full customary entitlements.

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau told the Northern Advocate back in April, "Te Tiriti o Waitangi was drafted and discussed in depth by our ancestors and translated into what is now known as the Treaty of Waitangi, by a Pakeha for Hobson's sake.

"There are huge differences about issues such as sovereignty, tino rangatiratanga and other wording of the translation. We want to have Ngapuhi's story told and we need an audience. New Zealanders have never been told the truth about Te Tiriti o Waitangi from direct descendants of Maori signatories to te tiriti."

In December 2006, the Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act set a deadline of 1 September 2008 for the submission of all new historical claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal will not be able to register or inquire into any new historical claims submitted after that date.

New Zealand History on line says The Treaty is a broad statement of principles on which the British and Maori made a political compact to found a nation state and build a government in New Zealand. The Treaty has three articles. In the English version, these are that Maori ceded the sovereignty of New Zealand to Britain; Maori gave the Crown an exclusive right to buy lands they wished to sell, and, in return, they were guaranteed full rights of ownership of their lands, forests, fisheries and other possessions; and that Maori would have the rights and privileges of British subjects.

The Treaty in Maori was deemed to convey the meaning of the English version, but there are important differences. Most significantly, in the Maori version the word 'sovereignty' was translated as 'kawanatanga' (governance). Some Maori believed they gave up the government over their lands but retained the right to manage their own affairs. The English version guaranteed 'undisturbed possession' of all their 'properties', but the Maori version guaranteed 'tino rangatiratanga' (full authority) over 'taonga' (treasures, not necessarily those that are tangible). Maori understanding was at odds with the understanding of those negotiating the Treaty for the Crown, and as Maori society valued the spoken word, explanations at the time were probably as important as the document.

Different understandings of the Treaty have long been the subject of debate. From the 1970s especially, many Maori have called for the terms of the Treaty to be honored. Some have protested – in marches on Parliament and by land occupation. There have been studies of the Treaty and a growing awareness of its meaning in modern New Zealand.

The following is from the New Zealand Herald.

Far North protesters win fight for tribal land
By Yvonne Tahana

A Far North iwi which occupied a Landcorp farm to block its sale before a Treaty of Waitangi claim was heard is on the verge of getting the land back.

Ngati Kahu will today sign an agreement in principle with the Government under which it will eventually own the 3700ha Rangiputa Station.

Last year, when Landcorp, which farms the property for the Government, decided to sell 9ha of prime coastal land iwi members responded by occupying the station.

The land was loaned to missionaries on the understanding it would return to Ngati Kahu, but it was never returned.

The situation of state assets being sold in contested areas came to light last year when Landcorp also tried to sell land on the Coromandel Peninsula at Whenuakite.

Protest action by senior Hauraki kaumatua resulted in the Government setting new policy on what state-owned land could and could not be sold.

The Herald understands the agreement includes $14 million, but the deal is structured so that the iwi will have to use the money to buy back 8000ha of Crown land. Land which has been classified as "cultural" - 4000ha of it - will be given back for free.

Although the Government had valued Rangiputa Station at $40.2 million, the Herald understands that valuation has dropped to about $4 million.

Tribal sources said there would be no separate cash compensation outside of the $14 million but that wasn't such a high priority.

"We've focused on land, land, land stubbornly.

"In the end we've had to play this stupid game where they give us the money, so we give it back to them, so they can give us the land.

"But it's a way to move on."

A tribal leader said if Rangiputa and Whenuakite hadn't been occupied by iwi, the land which was lost to Maori once would have been lost forever because of the demand for coastal property.

"We have so little left that we will tend to fight.

"Once land is developed that's it. It's very hard to see a situation where it will be given back to Maori. So this is very significant for us."

The signing takes place at Kareponia Marae today but not everyone in the tribe is happy with the deal.

Tribal sources say they are expecting protests but they will be "managed" and the ceremony will go ahead.

The dispute:

Ngati Kahu loaned land to missionaries on the understanding it would be returned.

The land ended up with Landcorp, which runs farms for the Government, as Rangiputa Station.

Last year Landcorp tried to sell off 9ha of prime coastal land on the station.

Members of Ngati Kahu occupied the land, forcing the Government to change its policy on state-owned land sales.

The iwi will today receive a settlement, which gives them money to buy back the land.

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