Sunday, June 12, 2011
Mike Butler: The king of all Maori or not?
Rankin, whose tribe claims to have 122,000 members and which claims that sovereignty was never ceded when it signed the treaty, argues that calling the head of Tainui the "Maori King" undermines the sovereignty of other tribes.
Is the Maori king the king of Maori?
The Maori king movement was inspired by Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha’s son Tamihana who had visited England in 1851 and noted that the respect accorded to Queen Victoria acted as a catalyst for national unity. The presence of Europeans (59,000 in 1858, surpassing the Maori population of 56,000) had helped create a sense of ‘Maoriness’.” Tamihana thought that if Europeans gained power from unity under the British Crown, so too could Maori unite under a king and retain land, customary law and traditional authority.
The ailing Waikato chief Te Wherowhero (c. 1800-1860) was selected as first Maori King, in 1856, at a gathering on the shores of Lake Taupo, and formally installed with the name of Potatau I at his capital at Ngaruawahia in 1858. Succession passes down through his family. The current Maori king, Tainui leader Tuheitia, descends from this line. It started as a pan-tribal political movement but since succession stays with Tainui, Tuheitia remains the Maori king of Tainui, as Rankin asserts.
But Rankin is sensitive about the extent of sovereignty of a Maori king because it may impinge on the Ngapuhi claim that the tribe never ceded sovereignty in signing the treaty.
The Ngapuhi argument is that since every Ngapuhi chief present in 1840 at the signing of the Treaty was a battle-hardened warrior, each would have been clear that under the treaty - which was explained to them by missionaries - their “tino rangatiratanga”, which Ngapuhi take to mean “chieftainship”, was guaranteed to them under article two of the treaty.
But a closer look at the drafting of the treaty shows that British resident James Busby and governor William Hobson used the phrase “tino rangatiratanga” to convey “ownership” to chiefs who had no concept of ownership and who controlled access to resources through a web of interacting rights.
The Ngapuhi claim takes “tino rangatiratanga” to mean both “ownership” (of their lands, dwellings and all their property), and “self-government”. This fancy semantic footwork allows the treaty to both cede sovereignty (“kawanatanga”) in article one of the treaty, and retain sovereignty (‘tino rangatiratanga’) in article two, which would appear self-contradictory nonsense.
Do a search of the meaning of the English word “ownership” in the online Maori dictionary at http://www.maoridictionary.co.nz/index.cfm?dictionaryKeywords=ownership&n=1&idiom=&phrase=&proverb=&loan=&search.x=22&search.y=14 and the word that comes up first is “rangatiratanga”.
at 8:53 PM