Monday, January 13, 2014
John Robinson: Killing rewards rubber stamped
One “redress instrument” is the right to apply a nga paihau or an overlay classification that “acknowledges the traditional, cultural, spiritual and historical association of an iwi with certain sites of significance”, and thus to set out limitations for access and use by others.
Compensation includes $10-million for loss of a non-existent marine empire, and much property. Even the arrest of Te Rauparaha is considered a wrong, with an apology from the Crown.
Yet this redoubtable warrior and killer was supporting armed revolt by inviting Wanganui warriors to join an uprising and calling his followers to “sweep them (the people of Wellington and the Hutt) from the land”. He had just taken part in a fight at Wairau where 11 helpless captives were slain. That site is now handed to the descendents of the killers despite opposition from descendents of those killed.
All those claims are based on “a powerful position” asserted in a period of genocide as war parties attacked other tribes across the region. One account by Te Rauparaha’s son refers to about 1600 killed in battles, many pas captured and 3500 women and children slain. The winners then “cut up the bodies of the slain and carried them to their pa to be cooked, as was the Maori custom.” “What a wonderful war party!”
This settlement is in direct contradiction with the Treaty of Waitangi, which held the promise of equality as British subjects, now New Zealand citizens. The Treaty of Waitangi put an end to those war parties.
The immediate consequences were breathtaking. Across the country slaves became free and returned to their homes. Peace treaties broke the cycle of utu. Deserted lands were again settled and all gained the right to life, free from marauding war parties with an end to the genocide that had reduced the Maori population by one-third in the preceding 40 years. The country should celebrate rather than apologise for bringing peace.
Treaty settlements involve us all, and I have for years been opposed to the Ngati Toa settlement as it directly affects my neighbourhood. I met the Minister several times and wanted to play a part in ongoing discussions.
A first step was to get a copy of the historical account on which the claims were based. To my surprise I found that this did not exist in 2009, and had yet to be written in 2012.
I was told by the Minister: “Once the Crown and Ngati Toa sign a deed of settlement, a Bill will be introduced into Parliament in order to give effect to the settlement through legislation. Members of the public will have an opportunity to make submissions on the settlement bill when it enters the select committee phase of the parliamentary process. You may wish to make a submission at that time.” Thus a generous settlement was decided upon before any grounds for complaint were set down, and the public can see what is going on and comment only after the settlement is signed.
I made that submission, and spoke before the select committee on September 4 2013, even though it was a waste of time, as the Minster had said clearly that bills such as this “stem from legal agreements which are already entered into”.
The pointless farce of public participation became evident when I learned that the Deed of Settlement, which gives effect to the payments and hand-over of lands without the formal Bill in Parliament, had been given the go-ahead by Cabinet and signed by both parties the previous year, in December 2012.
Indeed the Wellington City Council gave Taputeranga, the island in Island Bay, to Ngati Toa a week before I had that first opportunity to speak in opposition.
Other submitters complained similarly that they were kept in ignorance and were addressing a done deal since “throughout those processes the Crown did not table any historical evidence to support their awarding interests in these properties to Ngati Toa.”
And “The predicament our community finds itself should never have arisen if consultation had been extended to our community during negotiations before the Settlement Agreement.”
And “We must criticise the authors of the Settlement for arriving at a conclusion in the first place that it is OK to allocate this major heritage location to one of the interested parties alone, without reference to those others involved.”
And “It is hard to test these matters ‘prior to the execution of a deed of settlement’ when the officers of the Office of Treaty Settlements were not forthcoming with regards to the sharing of information in a timely manner.”
The Select Committee report accepted the Bill with only a few tweaks, to be rubber-stamped by subservient parliamentarians who neither know of nor care for the shabby process.
The myth-making continues. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson – the person responsible for this impenetrable charade – wants his Office of Treaty Settlements to explain the process to the public. His track record tells us that we will only get a twisted narrative justifying his past actions.
The reality is shown by this settlement. Maori groups are invited to seek grievance and given considerable assistance to develop a complaint – I know this as I have been a consultant in the grievance industry.
They and a sympathetic Minister then decide a generous settlement from the public purse.
Once this is agreed upon in secret sessions a deceptive historical account is cobbled together, conveniently ignoring any awkward facts.
When the settlement is completed and signed, it becomes public, too late for any careful analysis.
While that signed accord holds the major elements of the settlement, the process is completed with a Bill before Parliament. Only then can any one else get a say.
In a final stage a subservient parliament passes the Bill to the accompaniment of theatricals and ‘celebration’ for a supposed wrong righted.
Councils across the land are then asked to break with the democratic principle of equal voting power and to give special inherited rights to such family groups.
John Robinson wrote “The corruption of New Zealand democracy, a Treaty overview”, “When two cultures meet, the New Zealand experience”, and “Twisting the Treaty, a tribal grab for wealth and power” (joint author), and articles on “The battles of Tapu te Ranga”, “Chance to create and island of peace” and “Spoils of war behind Ngati Toa settlement for Wellington coast”.
at 6:44 PM