Sunday, March 18, 2012
Mike Butler: Takapuna deal shabby
The New Zealand Herald reported that the 3.2ha Takapuna Head site, used by the New Zealand Navy as an officer training school, is being sold back to Ngati Whatua for $13.8-million - but the iwi has been given freedom to do what it likes with the land.
The Navy would pay rent to Ngati Whatua as long as they continued using the site. When the settlement passes into law, the Narrow Neck block will be removed from the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act. The land, on a shared title with a 1.6ha recreation area, is valued at $34.7-million, and the improvements nearly $7-million.
Saying he was never properly consulted, Auckland mayor Len Brown has written to Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson asking for a meeting. He said the settlement would "potentially alienate future public access to the property".
Devonport-Takapuna local board chairman Chris Darby said they were not told of a "secret" meeting between a Conservation official and the Hauraki Gulf Forum, seven months before the block of land was included in the Treaty settlement.
If the valuation of the Takapuna Head land and improvements totals $41.7-million, and if Ngati Whatua o Orakei may buy it for $13.8-million, the tribe is being given $27.9-million of equity in this deal, which far exceeds the official total financial redress for the tribe of $18-million plus interest. This $18-million includes $2-million already received through the railways settlement in 1993, plus a 172-year right-of-first-refusal over surplus Crown properties in the Auckland area.
What is more, the government is prepared to trash the reserve status and the rights of the community to give the iwi a valuable property they want.
If the deal is purportedly to settle historical grievances, what are those grievances? The Ngati Whatua o Orakei settlement rephrases history so that the tribe “transferred” and “lost” land to end up being “virtually landless”. The Crown “failed to protect” pa and urupa, and “failed to set aside one-tenth of the lands transferred for the future use or special benefit of the original owners”, meaning the tribe lost the “ability to exercise mana whenua and participate meaningfully in the growing colony”. What does this all mean?
In fact, Te Taou, a sub-tribe of Ngati Whatua of the Kaipara, that had only occupied the Auckland area since the mid-18th century and were driven out by a Nga Puhi war expedition led by Hongi, Rewa and Patuone in November 1822, were too frightened to live there but happy to SELL large parcels of land to incoming settlers.
The tribe sold around 3500 acres of land that today covers the central city of Auckland, to government officials in September 1840. Over the next two years the tribe sold a further 29,000 acres to the Crown for around £640 plus other goods.
But the colonial government, which had negotiated the monopoly right to buy land from chiefs and on-sell it to settlers, using the profit to fund administration, sold this land attaining a profit of £68,865, sparking a big sense of sellers’ remorse among the vendor chiefs.
Between 1844 and 1845 the Crown waived its sole right to buy land, allowing chiefs to sell to settlers, but enacting regulations to protect Maori. Claimants argued that the Crown did not apply the regulations correctly.
This settlement does not involve a grievance associated with 700 acres of land on the Tamaki isthmus at Orakei, that was settled by the Orakei Act 1991.
The New Zealand Centre for Political Research, which has been analysing treaty grievances for the past decade, has consistently argued that the claims and settlements process is flawed and based on a faulty premise. It seems that when central government bungling starts to have an impact on local government that concerns are taken seriously.
With 30 settlements completed, 16 awaiting legislation, four awaiting tribal ratification, 16 agreed but at the detailed negotiations stage, a further 15 under negotiation, and a number of others yet to be negotiated, there is going to be increasing uproar over these grievance give-aways.
This deal either is shoddy accounting or a shabby sweetheart deal. It is the sort of thing that became inevitable once successive governments offered to pay cash for grievances.
What is required to stop the settlement process spinning further out of control is supervision of the Waitangi Tribunal and Office of Treaty Settlements within the court hierarchy, earlier final settlements, such as those made in the 1940s, to be acknowledged in current settlement values, historical grievances limited to those actually complained about before 1985, and the Waitangi Tribunal to be disestablished once historical claims are settled.
at 7:18 PM