Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mike Butler: Maori breaching treaty principles



The New Zealand Maori Council has gone to the Waitangi Tribunal to get a report to say that a current review into the Maori Community Development Act 1962, announced last month by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, "is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi". Maori Council lawyer Donna Hall said the process was all Crown tikanga, adding "there's no council presence in there anywhere".(1)

Now what principles does Hall think the Crown have breached? Here is Justice Robin Cooke’s 1987 list of treaty principles:
(a) ‘[T]he Queen was to govern and the Maoris were to be her subjects; in return their chieftainship and possessions were to be protected, but . . . sales of land to the Crown could be negotiated.’
(b) Because there was some inevitable potential conflict between those principles, both parties had a duty ‘to act reasonably and with the utmost good faith’ towards one another.
(c) The principles of the treaty do not authorise unreasonable restrictions on the right of a duly elected government to follow its chosen policy.’
(d) The Crown assumed a duty of protection towards Maori: ‘the duty is not passive but extends to active protection of Maori people in the use of their lands and waters to the fullest extent practicable.’
(e) The Crown has a duty to remedy past breaches: ‘the Crown should grant at least some form of redress, unless there are good grounds justifying a reasonable Treaty partner in withholding it – which would only be in very special circumstances, if ever.’
(f) The Crown had an obligation to consult with Maori in the exercise of kawanatanga. Justice Cooke was guarded, however, as to the practical extent of that obligation
Because Hall said "the council was not consulted about this round" it appears she thinks principle (f) has been breached.

But is not the Maori Council action breaching principles (a), (b), and (c). The government review could be seen as principle (d) in action, and if any redress for a possible breach of (f) by the Crown was suggested, then redress for the Maori Council’s breaches of (a), (b) and (c) should be ordered.

The Maori Council lacks accountability and should not purport to speak for all Maori, says Ngati Kahu chairperson Margaret Mutu. (2)

Although the Maori Council tops a four-tier bureaucracy, with elections at three levels held every three years, Mutu says she does not know how its members are appointed, and has no idea who is on the Tai Tokerau Maori Council or who speaks for it.

Mutu, who is also on the Iwi Chairs Forum, says there is no group that represents all Maori and the Government should not try to create one.

The Maori Council says it does not claim to speak for all Maori, but it does have the statutory authority to promote policies for the benefit of all Maori.

This behaviour of Hall and the Maori Council is like school kids running to the teacher saying someone is being mean.

We have seen the Maori Council run to the tribunal over water rights. The Maori Council and Eddie Durie ran to the High Court earlier this year when things didn’t go their way in the Crown Forestry Rental Trust over conflict of interest.

The New Zealand Maori Council has a habit of foolishly bringing itself into disrepute. This latest stunt shows serious problems with its leadership.

Sources:
1. Fears for future of Maori Council, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11131143
2. Maori Council lacks accountability - Ngati Kahu, http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/222584/maori-council-lacks-accountability-ngati-kahu

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