Historian Paul Moon’s claims on TV3’s Third Degree show on Wednesday and in his New Zealand Herald column “The past must be remembered for us all” on Friday, that Tuhoe underwent “ethnic cleansing”, fails to remember key facts of our history. When questioned by Guyon Espiner for the Third Degree current affairs show about Tuhoe history, Moon said:
“The government confiscated land that was vital to the people’s survival. It imprisoned people without trial. In some cases, the bodies of Tuhoe killed by the Crown were desecrated. Crops were destroyed, animals killed. It was ethnic cleansing. The atrocities were made all the worse because these acts were committed by NZers against other NZers”.Let us examine Moon’s statement. His closing remark was that “these acts were committed by New Zealanders against other New Zealanders”. But Tuhoe do not regard themselves as New Zealanders, according to a statement by an Urewera inhabitant elsewhere in the item, and struggle to identify as Maori.
How about Moon’s comment “it was ethnic cleansing”? The United Nations Commission of Experts, in a January 1993 report to the Security Council, defined “ethnic cleansing” as “rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.” It said ethnic cleansing was carried out in the former Yugoslavia by means of murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extrajudicial executions, rape and sexual assault, confinement of the civilian population, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and wanton destruction of property.
Was the Ureweras “rendered ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area”? There is no evidence that Tuhoe were removed from the Ureweras by force or intimidation.
Government forces have entered the Ureweras on three occasions. Besides the arrests of 18 terrorism suspects by 300 armed police on October 15, 2007, 1300 government troops entered the Ureweras in 1869, and three contingents of armed police went there, April 2, 1916, to arrest the Maori messiah Rua Kenana.
The 1300-fighter force (including non-Maori and Maori) that advanced into the Ureweras from May 4 to May 18, 1869, went there to capture the renegade guerrilla fighter Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki. Te Kooti had escaped from custody on the Chatham Islands on July 4, 1868, attacked the settlement of Matawhero on November 8, 1868, killing 70 people, including more than 20 Maori, withdrew to the Ureweras and gained a formal commitment from Tuhoe on March 20, 1869, raided the Whakatane area in March 1869, and attacked Mohaka on April 10, 1869, murdering men, woman, and children, both settlers and Maori.
Te Kooti was at war with the colonial government and Tuhoe supported and sheltered him. The destruction of crops and buildings was associated with this campaign. The only sign of an atrocity was at Mohaka in which, according to historian James Cowan, Tuhoe fighters were the main protagonists because they were ancient enemies of their largely Ngati Pahauwera victims.
The “confiscated land that was vital to the people’s survival” includes their best land confiscated in the Bay of Plenty after the murder of missionary Carl Volkner in 1865. Tuhoe cite this confiscation as a reason for supporting Te Kooti.
There is a lot more to the Tuhoe story, but Moon’s “ethnic cleansing” assertion has no foundation in fact, to the extent that I wondered whether Guyon Espiner asked Moon to say it for dramatic effect. After all, the item was a beat-up, with the only news being Tuhoe’s plans for a $15-million headquarters in the wilderness.
There was more Tuhoe news around at the time this current affairs clip was made, and that did not make it to this item. On the day Third Degree aired, the Whakatane Beacon published a report headlined “Tuhoe defend intimidation claims”.
Kruger, who is the chairman of Te Kotahi a Tuhoe, denied that there was anything to be concerned about after claims that 600 Tuhoe members intimidated voters at a hui where the Te Toi Kura trust sought a mandate to negotiate a Ngati Ruapani ki Waikaremoana settlement. At the hui, Tuhoe performed a haka calling for the killing of Tuhoe opposition, and a Ngati Ruapani aspirations document was burned. Kruger swore an affidavit that noted opposition at two meetings, one in Rotorua and one in Tuai, with strong opposition at Tuai.
Although Ngati Ruapani claims have been widely reported since Tuhoe’s $170-million settlement appeared likely, Guyon Espiner and Duncan Garner did not bring this up in their supposed grilling of Kruger.
Instead, Espiner and Garner wanted to know whether Kruger thought it was good use of $15-million to build an elaborate headquarters in the remote interior. Kruger responded that they were using money from another settlement. What settlement was that? Tuhoe have benefited from three settlements.
Tuhoe received £100,000 in 1958 via the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955 to settle unfinished business over Tuhoe contributing £20,000 worth of land for roading and the government failing to complete the road. The Act set up as the Tuhoe-Waikaremoana Maori Trust Board and the beneficiaries of the board were declared to be the persons to whom land was allotted under section 7 of the Urewera Lands Act 1921–22.
Tuhoe have fisheries quota. The tribe was allocated quota that was confirmed in the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 and receive a share of fisheries income. Tuhoe listed their population in 2004 at 29,726, according to schedule 3 of that Act, or 4.377 percent of total notional iwi population. Aotearoa Fisheries Limited and its subsidiary companies reported a net profit after tax of $17.1-million in the 2011-2012 year. Tuhoe received its share of the annual profit, plus its share of the $526-million allocated to iwi by March 31, 2012.
Tuhoe received a forestry windfall. The tribe was one of seven tribes to share in the 2007 Central North Island Forest Iwi Collective deal which transferred land worth $149.6-million, released forestry rentals worth $223-million that had been held in trust since 1989, and began an agreement that paid forestry rentals worth $13-million a year. Tuhoe would have received around $32-million in accumulated rentals in 2007, and receive an on-going annual forestry cash flow of around $2-million.
This all goes to show that Tuhoe are not the poor and downtrodden that the seriously run-down buildings shown in all television footage would lead you to believe. After all, the wobbling jelly bellies on display in numerous Tuhoe protest hakas show they are definitely not short of food.