Sunday, May 4, 2014
Bruce Moon: Ngai Tahu claim not questioned
Referring to the Waitangi Tribunal, Evison also said: "With a line-up of judges, professors, and bishops, the tribunal could scarcely be described as a panel of fools. They will not accept anything that is not 100 per cent valid. ... The treaty is now arguable [sic] in a court of law and a completely new way of presenting evidence has been developed." (2)
Now in the first place, the tribunal is emphatically not a court of law, even though successive weak governments treat its pronouncements as if it were. Second, we may well ask why "a completely new way of presenting evidence" was needed to replace the well-tried procedures of our court system developed over centuries?
As treaty commentator Colin Rawle has pointed out: "Anyone who has seriously investigated the establishment and working of the Waitangi Tribunal, knows that far from being an honourable judicial body objectively seeking the truth, it has been nothing more than a rubber stamp for preposterous Maori grievances and claims."(3)
Rawle quotes Brian Priestley, veteran newspaperman and University of Canterbury lecturer: "Years ago I attended several sessions (of the Waitangi Tribunal) while advising the Ngai Tahu on public relations for their claims. It would be hard to imagine any public body less well organised to get at the truth. There was no cross-examination. Witnesses were treated with sympathetic deference.
”The people putting the Crown's side of things seemed equally anxious not to offend. In three months I don't think I was asked a single intelligent, awkward question. I should have been. I resigned because I am basically a puzzler after the truth and not a one eyed supporter of causes", Priestley wrote.
Now, it may be true that complainants "were treated with sympathetic deference". It was quite a different story for Jean Jackson. Jean is of Ngai Tahu descent and was thus qualified to appear as a witness before this racist body.. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of land claims nationally and in the South Island in particular and has uncovered much documentary evidence in support. It has always been Jean's position that the truth is more important than the self-interest of any partisan group and so when she found that there was much that was false in the Ngai Tahu complaints, she considered it her duty to make this clear to the Tribunal.
However, when her introductory remarks made it apparent that she was opposed to the claims of the tribe, she was informed abruptly that her evidence would be terminated at that point and she was not permitted to continue.
Now clearly Evison and Priestley differ over these matters. We consider the Ngai Tahu Waitangi Tribunal case further, to give some idea of what the correct view may be.
This matter has been the subject of careful scrutiny by Alan Everton and his report is in print.(4) While this report was the subject of Denis Hampton's "Friday Forum" article entitled "Ngai Tahu claim: too little critical analysis" in the Evening Post for 3rd April 1998, it appears to have been almost wholly overlooked elsewhere. We proceed now to look in some detail at Everton's findings, with full acknowledgement to him as the source here as well as for some of the material earlier in this article. Everton gives an account of the actual land sales and shows that if anything, any double-dealing was that of the Maori sellers, not the government agents.
According to one Minister of Maori Affairs, the Ngai Tahu claim was "the most meritorious of all land claims". Well, what did our government do wrong? Hearken!
In its 1254-page report, the Waitangi Tribunal found the "Crown" guilty of not ensuring the tribe's pre-European way of life remained intact! Sympathetic observer Wohlers' account of that way of life was quoted in part 1 of this series. Imagine the outcry if the government insisted on the tribe maintaining that intact.
"The Crown" (meaning we taxpayers) was equally guilty of not ensuring that the tribe enjoyed all the advantages of the white man's world. Well, that is certainly wanting it both ways. But hang on a minute - aren't Ngai Tahu citizens of New Zealand, free to enjoy their pre-European ways and the advantages of modern civilization as they see fit or are they children who have to be spoon-fed with these incompatible requirements for ever? Would sixteenth-caste Ngai Tahu leader, Steve O'Regan (who is now known as Sir Tipene), be happy to exchange his present lavish lifestyle for the tribe's pre-European way of life under government supervision to ensure that it remained intact? [On one public occasion O'Regan, jocularly, described me as "not all bad!"]
The tribunal report held the door wide open for the tribe to complain. From one grievance about one of the land purchases, the tribe suddenly found it had 200, many repeatedly exposed earlier as shams.
Now, scathing as Everton is of the fraudulent nature of the Ngai Tahu grievances, it is significant to note that in his criticism he accepts as valid the false "treaty in English" which was actually one of seven composites created after the event by Governor William Hobson's secretary, James Stuart Freeman, from scraps of his early draft material rejected by Hobson for its unsuitable wording together with Busby's penultimate draft of February 3, 1840. Therefore, when this is rejected with its references to forests and fisheries and failure to refer to other New Zealand residents as in the real treaty, in Maori, the case against the tribunal becomes that much stronger.
Similarly, frequent reference to the spurious so-called "treaty principles" is a further strike against it. The only document to which valid reference can be made in considering the issues is the actual treaty in the Ngapuhi dialect of the Maori language.
Much reference is made in the tribunal report to "rangitiratanga" (which was of course a missionary-coined word) but nothing to the fact that it was a guarantee to all the people of New Zealand (tangata katoa o Nu Tirani), emphatically not excluding all but Maoris. That is a plain fact that the tribunal does not seem to want to know. It is nonsense to claim that "rangitiratanga" in the treaty really resembled pre-European chiefly practice, much of which could simply not be tolerated in a civilized society - infanticide, slavery, mutilation of slaves, cannibalism, putting the sick and old outside to die being examples.
Most of the grievances were around the provision of reserves. Initially their size had been reckoned on the amount a reasonably industrious family needed to make a living by cultivation, with "endowment lands" as an extra. However, Ngai Tahu appeared quite unwilling to use their land in this way, which would of course have increased its value substantially. The 1896 census return revealed that Ngai Tahu were only cultivating 857.5 of 45,000 acres - rather less than two percent.
They did not do much better in what was to become a profitable South Island enterprise - stock grazing. Some Kaiapoi natives had sought 1,000 acres to graze two sheep and their lambs.
According to one Trevor Howse, to cultivate their land like Europeans "did not line up with the Maori spiritual bond with his land". It does not seem to occur to him that in this modern age, some adjustment of his "spiritual bond" to be more in line with that of his predominantly white ancestors would be in order. He does not seem to be aware of the intense cultivation practices of billions of people in Asia and elsewhere which suggest that behaviour towards ones land in accordance with some erstwhile "spiritual bond" is an out-dated anomaly.
Nor were Ngai Tahu inclined to take up dairying. As missionary J.W. Stack reported from Kaiapoi in 1872 "Though very fond of milk and butter, there is not one household that provides itself with these things, everyone shirks the trouble". Stack noted also "their habits of reckless improvidence" and "survival of their old communistic customs .. compelling the industrious to support the improvident." These were of course the habits for which the Tribunal censured the government for "not ensuring the tribe's pre-European way of life remained intact".
Rather than work their land themselves, some Ngai Tahu chose to rent it to European farmers - so much for their "spiritual bond" with it. They usually found that this practice did not provide them with the income to allow them to live in the style to which they thought they were entitled. Of course the cry went up that the provision of reserves had been inadequate. Apparently these people felt entitled to be some sort of squirearchy, living in idleness on rents while their white tenants laboured to wrest a living from the land. It would have been better for all concerned if tribesmen who found their land inadequate for their support had gone out and got jobs for wages. My own great-grandfather did exactly that. Apart from depression years when all suffered hardship, there was plenty of work to be had building roads and railways.
Nor were Ngai Tahu grievances accurately based on the historical evidence. One claim relied on the alleged "evidence" of Horomanu Patu in 1879-80 that Murihiku (a Southland block) had not been sold by the local chiefs of which he claimed to be paramount but by Otago chiefs. Examination of the deed of purchase showed that nearly two-thirds of the identified chiefs who signed the deed of sale, including all the leading chiefs, were Southlanders and that there was no evidence that Patu was paramount. However, Patu's unsubstantiated claim to a 200-acre reserve at Waimatuku, the Tribunal found to have "a convincing ring about it". So much for hard evidence!
Location of landless tribesmen west of the Waiau River the Tribunal labelled "a cruel hoax" notwithstanding claimants' attempts to establish that this land was never sold. Such inconsistencies did not seem to bother the Tribunal in any way.
Everton gives examples of more cases where Ngai Tahu not only made false claims but were treated with consideration and generosity by the authorities. He concludes his careful analysis with the words: "Any settlement of Ngai Tahu's claims based on [the tribunal's] report will be nothing short of a fraud."
Ngai Tahu were said to have 29,133 members in 1998, that growth of numbers from a mere 2,000 in 1840 suggesting that they are a flourishing tribe. The reason for this growth in numbers is of course that since the earliest days they have bred increasingly with members of the white population, so much so that if there are any today who are more than quarter-castes, they are rare birds.
Most Ngai Tahu could not even be called Maoris in any realistic sense. Of course a mindless government did chose to alter the definition of a Maori to be anybody who could claim descent from a fullblood. One could legislate that lead is gold but that does not make it so. It is interesting that these near-whites complain of their suffering at the hands of those people who comprise the greater part of their own ancestry yet we, the taxpayers, are expected to make recompense to them for fraudulent claims
Of course this saga does not end there and other tribes have been quick to notice the success of Ngai Tahu. Ngapuhi, for instance, reckon now that as there are about three times as many of them as there are Ngai Tahu, they deserve a gift of three times as much taxpayer money -- about $500-million! This effrontery, made without any reference to the merit of Ngapuhi claims, rivals that of the Ngai Tahu.
Nor should it be forgotten that Ngapuhi got $63-million of fisheries quota, solely on the wording of Freeman's bogus treaty, when the real treaty makes no mention of fisheries at all. Ngai Tahu benefited likewise. Remember that these fierce tribesmen, the Ngapuhi, have leased their fishing quota to Asian shipowners whose ships' crews work in slave-like conditions, a practice which continues today. The alleged reason is that if they were to crew fishing boats themselves and thus relieve unemployment in Northland, these fierce mana-laden warriors would miss their mummies (whanau). Well, well! Is there no end to the tricks these people will play?
While the story of the Ngai Tahu $170-million settlement told in this three-part series, of how the tribe lived before 1840, how the tribe tapped into rivers of cash, and how claimants manipulated evidence to justify compensation, is becoming old history, it is a case study that should serve as a warning, loud and clear. If New Zealanders do not wake up and take active steps to resist this onslaught coming from every tribe from every corner of the nation, they will soon find themselves to be second-class citizens in an apartheid state, with the Treaty of Waitangi torn up in tatters in the dustbin of history. They will have only themselves to blame.
1. The Press, 23rd September 1987, p21
3. Personal communication, 18th August 2012
4. A. Everton, Ngai Tahu's Tangled Web, Free Radical, Nos. 26, 27 & 28, August, October & December 1997
at 9:38 AM