Allegations at the Nga Hapu o Whangarei hearings last week that “culturally significant” sites were “lost” or “taken” as a result of ‘‘unscrupulous tactics sanctioned and assisted by the Crown” disguise the fact that the land was not lost, it was sold.(1)
Tribunal officials and tribal representatives visited harbours, rivers, forests and urban areas on which sit Government and corporate entities between Whangarei's east coast and Kaipara District's west coast. The hearings process began on Sunday with ritual welcomes.
Those 19th century transactions are detailed in 44 deeds collated by Henry Hanson Turton and held in government archives as well as the Victoria University NZETC website, each bearing the names of landowners who either asserted their claim to the land or proved it through a rigorous court process. Numerous deeds are worded thus:
This Deed, written on . . . ., is a paper of the full consent of us the Chiefs and Freemen of the . . . . . whose names are affixed to this document:—written on behalf of ourselves, our relations, and our descendants; to give up for. ever a certain portion of our lands to Victoria, the Queën of England or to the Kings or Queens who may succeed her for evér.The Ruakaka Block (Deed 96) was sold by 14 individuals for ₤350 on February 16, 1854. The Purua Block (Deed 96A) was sold by one individual for £1861. Three individuals sold the Tangihua Block (Deed 96B) for £1164, and so on.
And in consideration of our full consent to sell a certain portion of our land, Victoria the Qùeen of Englànd, on her part, agrees.
Receipt for . . . . . . to pay us the sum of . . . . ., which monies we have this day received.
The boundaries of the land are these . . . . . . .
All our interests in this land have ceased, and we have for ever given up and transferred this land, which descended to us from our ancestors, with its rivers, streams, lakes, fresh-water, timber, pastures, minerals, hills, ranges, with all its fertile spots, with all its barren places, with all above and all below the surface and all thereunto appertaining, in the light of this day, to the Queen of England, or to the Kings or Queens who may succeed her for ever.(2)
An analysis of 10 deeds showed 193 people signed away 10 blocks for £6521. Without going through all 44 deeds, it is possible that 849 people sold the Whangarei area for ₤28,692, which according to the Reserve Bank inflation calculator, would be $3.2-million today.
Remember, the land was unimproved. Remember too that the vendors did not own the land as freehold title in the Torrens system. They merely had a claim to the area, for whatever reason, and they were selling that claim to the government.
The historians involved in this case will know that claims for more money frequently followed Crown purchases, sometimes by individuals who alleged they missed out on sale proceeds, sometimes by vendors after the money from the original sale ran out. Such claims have been presented to what was called the Native Land Court. Some claims were made as petitions to parliament.
When the 1984-1987 government decided to reopen all old claims back to 1840, anyone with any inkling of a claim was invited to ask for more. The public was told that the claim would be investigated by a fair and impartial Waitangi Tribunal.
In fact, in our topsy-turvy world, there is no fair and impartial Waitangi Tribunal process.
You would be surprised to know that the first step involves claimants and the Crown agreeing to a negotiated statement of facts. The next step involves the Waitangi Tribunal writing up a report based on the agreed statement. The third step has claimants and the Office of Treaty Settlements negotiating settlement compensation, and the fourth step has parliament rubber-stamping an already legally binding deed of settlement.
The fertility clinic doctor presenting the claim for Nga Hapu o Whangarei apparently had no idea of the 44 deeds of sale and the $3.2-million (2013 dollars) already paid to those 19th century great-grandparents who quite happily sold their claims to the area. He repeated the emotional and inaccurate claim that the land was “taken” then cited the example of a former Maori farmer of the year to show “what practical support rather than taking their land might have done for the hapu”. (3)
So when the serial protestor Titewhai Harawira challenged the Crown to produce receipts for the land it says it bought from her people after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, (4) she seems unaware that all these receipts exist along with Crown purchase deeds, just like the Whangarei deeds already mentioned.
Claimants know we have a soft-touch government so are claiming as much as they can before the tide turns.
1. Waitangi Tribunal hearings begin in Whangarei, NZ Herald, October 16, 2013. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11140720
2. Deed 100, Takahiwae, July 7, 1854. Maori Deeds of Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand: Volume One, Province of Auckland. — Part I.—Maori Deeds. H.H. Turton. http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Tur01Nort-t1-g1-g1-g1-g4-t7-g1-t2.html
3. Land ‘ taken from’ hapu, Northern Advocate, October 17, 2013. http://apnregionalnz.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx
4. Harawira wants proof of land receipts, Radio NZ, October 16, 2013. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/224804/harawira-wants-proof-of-land-receipts