Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mike Butler: Rivers of money to greedy iwi

Cash payments to the five tribes in the Waikato River co-management deals total at least $400.8-million over 27 years, according to the deeds of settlement between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui, Te Arawa, Ngâti Raukawa, Ngâti Tuwharetoa, and Maniapoto. The settlements combine to dwarf the 1995 Waikato-Tainui raupatu settlement of $170-million. Other $170-million settlements were to Ngai Tahu in 1997, and the Sealord deal in 1992. The Waikato River tribes are also recipients of the central North Island forestry or “Treelords” deal of $161-million in 2008.

The Waikato-Tainui settlement attracted attention last year as enabling legislation went through Parliament, partly because the tribe regarded the river as it's ancestor. I have seen no comment on the total cost to the taxpayer of the five settlements regarding the Waikato River.

A close inspection of the deeds reveals that only half of the allocated cash goes towards any actual remedial work done to clean up the river. For $190-million paid to the tribes over 27 years, the only discernible effort required in return is that five people, one from each tribe, who are neither bankrupt nor dead, should attend no fewer than two meetings a year of the Waikato River Authority. A sum of $210-million to the Waikato River Clean-Up Trust is expected to fund rehabilitation initiatives for the Waikato River.

Additional benefits to Waikato Tanui include the right of first refusal to buy the Huntly power station, and a similar right to a mining licence for the bed of the Waikato River. Some 38 properties of significance were vested in the Waikato Raupatu River Trust.

The deeds are big on poetic assertions on the spiritual meaning of the rivers to the various tribes, statutory acknowledgements by the Crown, as well as gobbledegook vision statements of the sort that appear in local authority plans. Details of the funding are:

Waikato-Tainui receive a total of $102.8-million, including a $20-million Sir Robert Mahuta endowment, a $10-million river initiatives fund, a $40-million river initiatives fund, $3-million co-management funding, and $1-million co-management funding a year for 27 years (totaling $27-million), and a $2.8-million ex-gratia payment.

Te Arawa receive a total of $29-million including a $3-million initial payment with $7-million after three months, and $1-million co-management funding a year for 19 years (totaling $19-million).

Ngâti Raukawa receive a total of $240-million including $21-million given 20 business days for the Waikato River Clean-up Trust, and $7-million a year for 27 years (totaling $189-million). Three million was given on settlement to the Raukawa Settlement Trust followed by $7m three months later, and $1-million a year for 20 years (totalling $20-million).

Ngâti Tuwharetoa appeared quite frugal with a Crown pledge to contribute towards costs incurred.

Maniapoto received a total of $29-million for the Waipa River (a tributary of the Waikato) co-governance and management. That included $3-million co-management funding paid to the Maniopoto Maori Trust Board, $7-million three months later, and $1-million co-management funding a year for 19 years (totalling $19-million).

How much will it cost to clean up the 425km long river (including the stretch south of Lake Taupo)? The river has sustained pollution from nitrogen fertilizer leachate, dairy effluent spreading, silting as a result of the removal of natural vegetation, arsenic from the Wairakei geothermal power station, as well as slightly modified human waste pumped into the river from several towns.

Attorney General Chris Finlayson and Finance Minister Bill English, of the National Party-led government that is struggling with a ballooning deficit, signed these inexplicably generous agreements. River clean-up is at most half of this deal, which looks more like a continuing river of taxpayer money to greedy iwi.

Waikato-Tainui River Deed of Settlement,
Te Arawa Waikato River Co-Management Deed,
Raukawa Deed in relation to a Co-management Framework for the Waikato River,
Ngati Tuwharetoa Deed in relation to Co-Governance and Co-Management Arrangements for the Waikato River,
Maniapoto Co-Governance Deed,


Phil Sage said...

Given that the benefit of a clean Waikato river will flow to all the residents of New Zealand and not just Maori that actually seems quite far sighted. Obviously a chunk of the money will go on new Maori led bureaucracy but such is life.

Mike Butler said...

The view that clean-up benefits justify costs is widespread but some comparison is required. A sum of US$70-million was spent to clean up sewage pollution in the 150km-long Chicago River. The NZ government is spending $400.8-million ostensibly to clean up the 425km Waikato River. Only $210-million of this is going to the Waikato River Clean-Up Trust. What is left unsaid is that the Waikato local authorities and private farm owners will end up doing and paying for the actual clean-up work, and $190-million plus will go to Maori-led bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

The constant rape of Citizens for the benefit of the few must end in bloodshed eventually
its just a mater of when

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike for bringing this to public attention - the figures you have mentioned are mind boggling! There is no justification for it and like most NZers I wonder how did we get to this? Why does the government think it has to appease Maori by giving away vast sums of money? Is it possible to detail and total all the money that has been paid over the past four decades? To find out who actually gets this money? What are the names of the people who oversee these huge amounts.
After four decades of payments, policies etc the average Maori is worse off, so who is actually benefiting from all this money - can they not be named and a profile of how they personally have benefited. More people need to know facts and figures and understand the cost to all NZers especially in these financial times. How much of what the government is borrowing weekly is part of these payouts?

Anonymous said...

Give Give Give Give Give
Take Take Take Take Take
Aren't you used to it yet!

Anonymous said...

It's high-time we faced the facts which will be unpalatable to some.
Moneys and land settlements should only be handed over to genuine recipients. There are two big "ifs" that should precede such largesse.
Firstly Iwis should only be given hand-outs if they adopt democratic structures rather than the autocratic tribal arrangements which disempower those at the bottom of the heap at present.
Secondly, and most necessary, it must be established beyond doubt that all tribal members establish true ethnicity before they can be included. Too many half-caste so-called Maori are in fact European or otherwise in terms of bloodlines. It is ironic that we give largesse to ethnically British-based Maori whos ancestors were part of the problem in the first place. The Treaty clearly did not anticipate this when agreed upon.
Is it not time for nervous Parliamentarians to address this situation before Ersatz Iwi have the lot?

Martin H said...

Don Brash is looking a more attractive option.

Anonymous said...

Re 'The Waikato River tribes are also recipients of the central North Island forestry or “Treelords” deal of $161-million in 2008' can you explain to me how Maniapoto, Waikato Tanui and Raukawa are recipients of this deal?