Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mike Butler: Mana Party wants commissioner to help distribute treaty settlement cash

Wealthy tribal corporations do not ensure tribal members benefit from settlements; therefore the Mana Party wants an independent Treaty of Waitangi Commission. Such a body would oversee the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal, the party's first annual general meeting in Auckland over the weekend was told. (1)

Co-vice chair Annette Sykes told the meeting that the current Treaty settlement process does not lead to the distribution of benefits to the people from the tribal corporations. A commission would be independent of the government, and Maori would vote for a commissioner at the general election, who would act as an independent arbiter.

It was only a matter of time that the lack of trickle-down of settlement benefits would become a political issue. The Whanau Ora taskforce reported that “iwi maintain that their contributions to whanau well-being do not include providing resources that would otherwise be provided by the state”, which could be interpreted as saying if their people are on the dole they should stay on the dole. (2)

The Radio New Zealand report did note that the Maori Party said it has been proposing a Parliamentary Commissioner for the Treaty of Waitangi since 2004.

The capture of settlements by tribal elites resembles the grievance that the Waitangi process is seeking to address, in which 19th century chiefs and landowners sold the tribal patrimony, depriving themselves and their people of an economic base.

The Mana Party concern is over the distribution of benefits. Of wider concern is whether the Waitangi Tribunal process itself is justified or has it all been an expensive mistake that has created a monster generating further grievances.

The Fourth Labour Government opened the can of worms by allowing inquiries back to 1840, and the Fourth National Government rushed into it on a great wave of emotion and sharpened an appetite for land and money.

Most settlements are revisiting land sales. A sale and purchase between willing buyer and willing seller is usually a done deal, no matter how much one party can claim they have been hard done by, therefore most land-sale grievances are unwarranted.

Regarding grievances for the land confiscations related to the sovereignty wars of the 1860s, the Kingites, Pai Maririre Hauhau, and Te Kooti's Whakarau were all warned to take the oath of allegiance or face confiscation. They chose to fight and lost, so that should be the end of the matter. Confiscations by the British caused problems in Ireland and South Africa and they knew it would cause a problem here. The threat of confiscation in New Zealand during the 1860s helped control a situation that may have become uncontrollable.

Land taken from Maori loyal to the government required redress, although land was returned and compensation has been paid over the years. A question to be asked is whether the return of land, compensation paid, and confiscation settlements have addressed the specific grievances of the wrongful confiscation of land from pro-government Maori?

Compensation for loss of autonomy is not on, and has not been recognised, since sovereignty was ceded through the treaty. The loss of autonomy, or “tino rangatiratanga” is based on the Waitangi Tribunal’s interpretation of the treaty that takes “tino rangatiratanga” to mean both “ownership” and “self-government”. This allows the treaty to both cede and retain sovereignty, which is nonsense. In drafting the treaty, British Resident James Busby and Governor William Hobson used “tino rangatiratanga” to convey “ownership”.

Land taken for public works requires return of land or payment for land and compensation for loss of use.

Regarding the coastal area, rivers, and lakes, the right of public access afforded by public ownership has little difference to customary rights use. The main differences are trout fishing licences and limitations on taking seafood. Then there is the pollution problem.

Over $2-billion has been paid out in 29 settlements over 22 years. Tribal corporations who have received money want more, those with completed settlements are clamouring for legislation to be passed so they can receive the money, most New Zealanders of all races want it all to end, and those cut out of the process are starting to organise and protest.

Therefore, has the Waitangi Tribunal process settled long-standing grievances and provided an economic base for Maori, as promised, or has it created an even bigger problem? You decide!

1. Mana Party wants independent Treaty of Waitangi Commission,
2. Whanau Ora: Report of the Taskforce on Whanau-Centred Initiatives,


Ray said...

Oh yes, the size of the problem will increase in direct proportion to the will of successive governments to allow it. It will never stop. My great grandchildren will be footing the bill for more claims raised by the great grandchildren of maori currently being compensated. However, if corporate iwi were to distribute compensation or income from iwi commercial activities, there would then be no need for maori to claim welfare benefits. There is no way corporate iwi will let that happen. The taxpayer is in effect paying twice for absolutely no benefit. I have often thought that those maori who have yet to see any benefit from settlements will eventually wake up and demand their share. Perhaps we are seeing the start of that.

Anonymous said...

How about the great fishery quota allocation, when the tribes finally finished arguing among themselves about who should get what they get Asian boats to fish their quotas and process the fish in China.
The fishery quota carve up was supposed to be about maori creating jobs and wealth for maori.
Minister of Maori Affairs said maori don't like being away from the whanau for extended periods, so they don't work on fishing boats. not that I would like to work in the conditions of these boats. The quota owners have the power to change al these things but they choose not to.