Sunday, December 16, 2012
Mike Butler: Picton tribe’s $11.7m queried
Gone are the days when New Zealanders of Maori ancestry could fax in a claim noting an historical grievance allegedly suffered and wait for the payment to arrive. One such claim has produced a settlement worth $11.7-million negotiated between the Crown and the Picton tribe, Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu. This deal prompted a series of questions from reader Doug Howard.
While such settlements are publicly notified by cursory press release, details can be difficult to dig out if you don’t know where to look. It is helpful for the public to know what the claim was.
The Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu settlement deed (1), which is available on the Office of Treaty Settlements website, explains that the tribe in question came from Taranaki in the 1820. At that time, tribes were on the move to escape inter-tribal warfare and related murder and cannibalism which reduced the Maori population by around 42 percent or 70,000 people.(2)
Te Atiawa and other Taranaki tribes took northern South Island land in a series of battles against the resident Kurahaupo peoples. British settlers bought the land from residents who had only been there for about 20 years.
More specifically, Ngati Toa and Te Atiawa sold land to the New Zealand Company through the Kapiti deed in October 1839, and the Queen Charlotte Sound deed, signed by 30 Te Atiawa chiefs in November 1839. Payment was made in goods, including firearms.
The Treaty of Waitangi, signed by 27 chiefs, most if not all of them Te Ātiawa, at Queen Charlotte Sound on May 4 and 5, 1840, meant pre-treaty land transactions would be investigated.
Investigation of such sales in the northern South Island meant the NZ Company paid a further £200 to Motueka chiefs, £200 for those of Wakatu, £100 for Ngatiawa, and £10 for chief Ngapiko, plus an additional sum of £290 for Golden Bay Maori, who were absent from Commissioner William Spain’s pre-treaty land transaction hearings.
Chiefs sold land for what seemed a pretty good deal at the time. They found that if they kicked up a fuss they could get an even better deal with extra payments. When the government started buying land, the prices went even higher.
These transactions are detailed in the Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu settlement deed, along with the history of the settlement of Nelson and the finer points of the New Zealand Company colonisation scheme. Those with forebears who came to New Zealand under that scheme would know that the dream was more rosy than the reality.
The Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu settlement is just one of a number involving the northern South Island. The tribe’s website gives no indication of the number of members it has apart from the its 10 trustees.
Other such deals awaiting legislation include Ngati Kuia (1600 members) for $24.874-million, Rangitane o Wairau (1000 members) for $25.374-million, Ngati Apa ki te Ra To (700 members) for $28.374-million, as well as Te Rauparaha’s Ngati Toa (4500 members), which has interests in that area as well as around Kapiti and Wellington. They are to get $70.6 million.
Who are these local Maori? By now they would be blended with a number of other tribes as well as with a large amount of non-Maori ancestry. To register as a member of Te Atiawa Te Tau Ihu, an applicant would have to show descent from a primary ancestor of Te Atiawa.
What is their legitimacy to make a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal? The answer to this may be traced to a seriously deficient policy of the Lange Labour government which enabled claims back to 1840 to be investigated. No government since then has questioned this policy.
What followed shows government dysfunction at its worst. People filing a claim needed only to show that they were of Maori descent and note the historical grievance allegedly suffered. The Waitangi Tribunal, a government body created to investigate claims, would add the claim to others of the region and write it up to create the most compelling case for cash compensation. Another government body, the Office of Treaty Settlements, would negotiate a substantial cash payment.
The entire grievance-redress process exists outside of our democratic process. If Mr Howard wished to object to changes of place names in an area in which he and his family have lived in for the past 172 years, there is nothing he can do, as we saw in the case of Devonport residents objecting 3.2ha of prime Defence Force land as commercial redress with Ngati Whatua o Orakei. What is more, parliament rubberstamps each settlement. Queen Charlotte Sound will be known as Queen Charlotte Sound/Totaranui.
Thankfully, another Labour-led government set a deadline for historical claims for midnight September 1, 2008. In the end, 2034 historical grievances were registered, which was highly surprising since only nine grievances existed in 1882. The northern South Island Te Atiawa grievance is history re-litigated.
The place to go to for anyone wanting information on treaty settlements is the Claims Progress page at the Office of Treaty Settlements website. http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/fb.asp?url=livearticle.asp?ArtID=-1243035403
1. Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu settlement deed, http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/DocumentLibrary/TeAtiawaDeedofSettlement.pdf
2. John Robinson, The Corruption of New Zealand Democracy
at 12:47 PM