Friday, November 1, 2013
Mike Butler: Should this treatyist remain a sir?
Prime Minister John Key gave three reasons why former Justice Minister Doug Graham should retain his knighthood, with the first reason his role as Treaty Negotiations Minister. So what was so great about Graham’s work in treaty matters?
Graham went down in the 2008 collapse of the Lombard finance company along with Bill Jeffries, Lawrence Bryant, and Michael Reeves. The Supreme Court last week turned down an application for an appeal against their convictions, but it granted them leave to appeal against their sentences.
1. He caved in to two tribes, Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu, who had already received full and final settlements in the 1940s, by giving them both $170-million. Ngai Tahu had already received four settlements to disputes resulting from selling most of the South Island.
2. He included relativity clauses in both those settlements that committed governments for 50 years to pay a percentage of all settlements over $1-billion (in 1994 dollars) to both tribes.
3. He gave away cash and assets worth $170-million in a commercial fisheries settlement with tribes around New Zealand that started when a few part-time fishers in the Far North demanded a share of the quota system.
4. He failed to support the property rights of non-Maori farmers forced off their land near Dargaville by Te Roroa claimants whose claim had no basis in fact.
Graham was involved in up to 20 settlements and continued as a treaty negotiator after politics, earning $186,901 since 2008. Some of his treaty handiwork is already coming unstuck.
Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu are not satisfied with the amount of their first relativity payment and are demanding more. The government is not thrilled with it either and have gone to ground over the matter, refusing to release any details, citing privacy concerns.
Key was reported as saying: "New Zealand is a better country today because of the work Sir Douglas did as treaty negotiations minister, and my judgement is that he deserves to retain his knighthood".
It is worrying that such senior establishment figures as well as commentators believe that Graham’s redistribution of state assets to 20 or so family groups has somehow benefited New Zealand as a whole.
Bellicose demands by race hucksters in parliament and around the country mean New Zealand now appears more racially divided than when the settlement process began.
Government agencies set up to manage the settlement process were captured by claimants. The Crown Forestry Rental Trust, that funds claimants, has ground to a halt over conflict-of-interest infighting. The Waitangi Tribunal has failed to act impartially and now advocates for any whim claimants come up with.
Conspicuous by their silence are the 20 or so groups on the receiving end of Graham’s generosity. They appear happy to receive the goodies but lack the integrity to speak out in support of their benefactor.
The other treaty negotiating sir, Tipene O’Regan, who represented Ngai Tahu, has an excuse for not sticking up for Graham because he is facing civil action for his role in the collapse of another finance company, Hanover.
at 9:56 PM