The Waitangi Tribunal, in a report on the Tongariro National Park claims released on Tuesday, said that Maori did not nobly gift the cluster of mountains, including Ruapehu and Tongariro, to the Crown in 1887. The tribunal renamed the transaction a “tuku” (offer) and asserted that it was actually an offer of joint guardianship of the peaks.
Such a conclusion appears to involve a blatant and self-serving reinterpretation of history resulting from applying treaty principles dreamed up in 1987 to a significant event that occurred 100 years earlier.
Historian James Cowan interviewed Maori and pioneering settlers to create an account of the gifting of Tongariro, Nguaruhoe, and Ruapehu in 1887. That account was published in the Otago Daily Times on July 22, 1913.
“When the Native Land Court was sitting at Taupo in the year 1887 attended by Te Heuheu Horonuku, and many other prominent Maoris of the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe, the question of the apportionment and disposal of the mountains in the Tongariro zone came up for discussion by those concerned. Amongst those attending the court was Mr L. M. Grace, then Member of the House of Representatives for Tauranga, now of the Native Department, who was acting as adviser to and agent for Te Heuheu. Mr Grace is the son of the celebrated missionary who laboured at Pukawa, Taupo, long before the Maori war and is married to a daughter of Te Heuheu Horonuku. When the court came to consider what to do with the mountains. Mr Grace noticed that Te Heuheu became rather troubled. During an adjournment upon consulting with the chief, he found that Te Heuheu was very much concerned with the disposal and eventual fate of the peaks and the country immediately surrounding them.
“If”, said the chief – who was a Maori of the real old school, a tattooed, white-haired, warrior-chieftain, with a mind steeped in all the ancient beliefs of his race – “if these sacred mountains of my people are included in the blocks of land passed through the court in the ordinary way, what will become of them? They will be cut up and perhaps sold, a piece going to one pakeha and a piece to another; they will become of no account for the ‘tapu’ will be gone. Tongariro is my ancestor, my ‘tupuna’; it is my head, my ‘mana’ centres around Tongariro. You, Kerehi, know how my name and history is associated with Tongariro. I cannot consent to the court passing these mountains through in the ordinary way. What am I to do?”
Mr Grace agreed that it was undesirable to permit these famous mountains to be dealt with in the ordinary way. They should be regarded as ‘tapu’ from private hands. “Now”, he said to the old chief, “why not make them a ‘tapu’ place of the Crown? That is the only possible way in which to preserve them as ‘tapu’ places out of which no person shall make money. Why not hand them over the the government as a reserve and park, to be the property of all the people of New Zealand in memory of Heuheu and his tribe?”
“Ae”, said the old man; “that is the best thing to do! They shall be a park of the Crown, a gift forever from me and my people”.
Thereupon, Mr Grace drew out a deed of gift, which was ratified by the court and signed by Te Heuheu with whom were associated for the purposes of the gift a number of his principal co-chiefs. The deed, written on a sheet of foolscap, was thereupon transmitted to the government.
Mr Grace, before the final arrangements were made, wired to the Hon. Mr Balance who was then staying at Rotorua asking whether the government would accept the gift, and the reply in the affirmative promptly came. Shortly thereafter, Te Heuheu and Mr Grace visited Mr Balance in Rotorua and explained the circumstances connected with the park giving. The old chief did not live very long after his bequest to the nation. He died in 1888 at the age of 65 or 70 years.The Waitangi Tribunal version of Te Heuheu’s gift could now become state orthodoxy, Cowan’s history could be quietly deleted, and the new history could be indoctrinated into school children, and university students, while anyone who wishes to work in a government department may have to sign up to the new “truth”.
What do you think of that?
1. Iwi say true story can now be taught,http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/227666/iwi-say-true-story-can-now-be-taught
2. How the fire peaks came to be a national park, James Cowan, Otago Daily Times, July 22, 1913 http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=ODT19130722.2.62&l=mi&e=-------10--1----0--