Sunday, September 2, 2012
Mike Butler: Ngati Toa villainy rewarded
Claims by Ngati Toa, a small tribe with 4500 members in 2001 that asserts rights over a tribal area spanning Cook Strait from Rangatikei in the North Island to Marlborough in the south, relate primarily to what they describe as “loss of land and resources” in both the South and North Islands, which refers to territory that their forebears sold. The tribe complains about exclusion from the Tenths estates in Nelson and Wellington, and the loss of the Ngati Toa maritime domain, which refers to the tribe’s habit of paddling canoes around coastal areas to raid weaker tribes.
The tribe alleges that the Crown deliberately undermined of the authority of chiefs Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, undertook a coercive military campaign against the tribe, and kidnapped and detained Te Rauparaha without trial.
Some background is required. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson would be blissfully unaware of the full story.
What sort of a person was Te Rauparaha? He was a cannibal chief some whose deeds were recorded by Captain John Stokes of the surveying ship Acheron in the ship's diary in 1849. Stokes was taken to an area in Kaiapoi and shown sets of whitened bones, some of infants. In the words of the Acheron diary: "The demon (Te Rauparaha) devoured all his prisoners, himself tearing open the living mother and holding the half-formed embryo on a pointed stick in the flames to be afterwards devoured". (1)
Escalating conflict with Waikato tribes pushed Te Rauparaha and Ngati Toa from their traditional area at Kawhia in 1819-1820, down to Taranaki, on to the Kapiti coast including Kapiti Island, to Wellington in 1824, and across the strait in 1827 to the northern South Island. By the time full-scale British colonisation started in 1840, Ngati Toa had been asserting rights over the territory they currently claim for little more than 13 years.
Earlier Taranaki newcomers had sold the Wellington area that Ngati Toa claimed rights over to the New Zealand Company in 1839. The New Zealand Company thought it had bought the Nelson area when it bought a deed from the widow of a whaler who said it had been bought from Ngati Toa.
Against this complicated background a dispute between New Zealand Company settlers and Ngati Toa chiefs over land erupted at Wairau, Nelson, on June 17, 1843. In a bungled attempt to arrest Te Rauparaha, and his nephew Te Rangihaeata, four Maori fighters died and three were wounded, while among the British the toll was 22 dead, including Captain Arthur Wakefield of the New Zealand Company, and five wounded. Twelve settlers were shot dead or clubbed to death after surrendering to Maoris who were pursuing them, as revenge, or “utu”, for the death of Te Rangihaeata’s wife, who was at the scene.
After the killings, Maori inhabitants well versed in the politics of retribution, melted away from the area expecting a crackdown by the British – and nothing happened. Governor Robert FitzRoy did not have the forces to mount an attack so followed the politcs of appeasement, sending a message to Ngati Toa and others that there were no consequences for armed conflict.
Naturally, conflict escalated. Rangihaeata’s warriors begin to harass settlers in the Hutt Valley. Thirteen settler families were stripped of their possessions and threatened with death if they raised an alarm. Bands of distressed settlers walked into Wellington. Six hundred troops moved from the Bay of Islands to Wellington on February 3, 1846.
Pressure from upset New Zealand Company officials in London resulted in FitzRoy being replaced by George Grey, who declared martial law on June 18, 1846, for the area between Wanganui to Castlepoint but excluding Wellington.
Around July 17, a Wanganui settler saw a letter signed by Te Rauparaha calling on the disaffected upper Wanganui and inland tribes to join with chiefs Mamaku and Rangihaeata to raid Hutt Valley frontier posts. This settler walked from Wanganui to Wellington, much of the way with the war party that was to attack Wellington, to notify Governor Grey.
Grey took the letter seriously and had Te Rauparaha arrested at dawn on July 23, 1846, and held under house arrest to defuse the threat. (2)
Those are the circumstances for which Ngati Toa will inexplicably receive $75.235 million, which includes financial redress, interest on quantum, payments for capacity building, and the purchase of properties, and which includes $10-million to recognise a claim that the tribe had a maritime domain in the 19th century.
Ngati Toa Rangatira will receive accumulated rentals for the Crown Forest Licensed land purchased through the settlement, which total approximately $31 million. They will also receive New Zealand Units associated with this land. (3)
The tribe will also acquire more than 34,000 hectares of the Crown forest licensed land in the northern South Island for $24-million, plus accumulated rentals of approximately $31- million and New Zealand Emission Units associated with the land.
Cultural redress includes a right of attribution for the Ka Mate haka used by the All Blacks, vests Taputeranga Island at Wellington’s Island Bay in the tribe, a vest and gift- back, a 1hectare fee simple vesting, an overlay classification, a conservation management plan and a role in governance related to Kapiti Island, the transfer of one discrete site with reserve status at Queen Elizabeth Park, and gives to the tribe the status of guardianship of Cook Strait, Porirua Harbour, Port Underwood and Pelorus Sound.
The small size of the tribe means the settlement is generous, bringing about $16,781 to each member while the Ngati Porou settlement of $110-million for 72,000 members brings $1527 each. The settlement is on top of fisheries assets acquired under the commercial fisheries settlement, and aquaculture claims settled in 2004.
If Te Rauparaha had not been arrested and detained in 1846, he could have led in the destruction of Wellington. That would have brought a crackdown on Ngati Toa much worse than 10-months’ house arrest for one old chief.
New Zealand’s history is brief, and the people involved in these 19th century events, on both sides, are almost within living memory. My connection with these events --- the Wanganui settler who carried the warning letter to the British governor in 1846 was Richard Deighton, who was the brother of my great-grandfather.
1. A Mission of Honour -- the Royal Navy in the Pacific 1769-1997, John McLean, Tross Publishing, p77
2. The First Colonist - Samuel Deighton 1821-1900, Mike Butler, Dunmore Publishing
2. Ngati Toa Settlement Summary, http://www.ots.govt.nz/
at 2:38 PM