Thursday, June 26, 2014
Mike Butler: The permanent wallow in grievance
A key promise of the treaty settlement process is that as a society, we deal fully and finally with past injustices, achieve “closure”, and move forward as one people. The National Party took this further by setting a deadline in saying that this would all take place by 2014 – yes, this year.
However, there are more financial incentives for claimants, law firms, historians, and politicians, to continue to wallow in the past than there are to build a future. Despite around $2.3-billion being paid in treaty settlements little appears to have been settled.
Evidence of the permanent wallow appeared in the Northland Age newspaper, in a series of columns by Anahera Herbert-Graves, a former nurse who was appointed chief executive at Te Runanga-a-Iwi o Ngati Kahu in June 2006.
Ngati Kahu is the Far North tribe that is chaired by Margaret Mutu, who is Professor of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland. Mutu has the distinction of being the subject of a formal complaint with the Race Relations Office laid by Ngapuhi leader David Rankin for saying that white immigration to New Zealand should be restricted because it poses a threat to race relations due to immigrants' "white supremacist" attitudes.
On May 27, Herbert-Graves wrote that “Neither Ngapuhi nor Ngati Kahu have settled with the thieves. Ngati Kahu has laid out what it will take to fully and finally settle, and anything less will be a partial settlement. The thieves have made an offer, and Ngati Kahu will respond in due course.”
This comment is despite a record on the Office Treaty Negotiations website that Ngati Kahu has had an agreement in principle with the Crown since 2008, and that agreement includes a financial quantum of $14-million plus $7.5-million for social revitalisation.
Herbert-Graves continued her rant in the Northland Age on June 3 by claiming that the Crown supported the "theft of almost all of Ngati Kahu’s lands by 1865" by using "sanitised terms like pre-treaty transactions or old land claims, surplus lands, Crown grants, scrip awards and purchases". That article also claimed that despite signing Te Tiriti, Ngati Kahu forebears did not cede sovereignty.
In “Took your whenua” on June 10, she claimed that “Crown grants was one of the first flash terms applied by the Crown to its thefts of Ngati Kahu lands". On June 17 she called "surplus land" and "scrip" "two further flash terms for theft". On June 4 she got even more carried away in "A tsunami of theft" by redefining ‘Crown purchases as a "new theft mechanism"
Therefore, what we have is a Crown agency, the Office of Treaty Negotiations, believing it has an agreement in principle involving $21.5-million with a Far North tribe the chief executive of which writes a weekly column in the local newspaper calling the Crown liars and thieves. Figure that out!
Further down the North Island, Hori Manuirirangi, who is chairman of the Ngaruahine Iwi Authority, a tribe located between Manaia and Hawera in Taranaki, wrote to the Daily News just two weeks after his tribe initialled a settlement for $67.5-million bitterly complaining that is could never compensate for any of the ‘‘real wrongs’’ wrought upon Ngaruahine.
He cited a current valuation of $50,000 per hectare for land in the area and implied if that were multiplied by the land area confiscated (58,769 hectares), a more appropriate settlement figure would be around $3-billion.
But Manuirirangi appeared not to understand that the land confiscated was undeveloped and has grown in value over 149 years with the addition of capital and labour and increased demand.
Taranaki land sold for 10 shillings an acre in 1865, which meant the entire 58,769 hectares, or 145,000 acres, of land confiscated would have then sold for £72,500, which would be worth $78.5-million today, according to the Reserve Bank inflation calculator.
The bad news is, according to historian Ewan Morris, is that any historical interpretation is always open to debate and revision, it is misleading to draw a sharp line between historical and contemporary treaty grievances, and the treaty settlement process has not brought us to a point where Maori and non-Maori have a shared view of the history of this country.
He wrote: "We will need to remain open to different views of our past, to dealing with unresolved legacies of that past, and to thinking about how our different histories continue to influence the ways in which we meet the challenges of the future."
Unfortunately for many, getting money out of the past is their future -- which may be OK for them but not OK for those who are paying for it.
Ewan Morris, The ‘full and final’ fantasy: why Treaty settlements do not mean that we can move on from history, http://posttreatysettlements.org.nz/the-full-and-final-fantasy/
at 11:47 AM