Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mike Butler: Summoning ghosts from the past as Tuhoe negotiator talks up Urewera self-governance

Tuhoe's lead negotiator is talking up his tribe's chances of a settlement including self-government of Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana as early as next year, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald last Saturday, October 1, 2011.

Tuhoe, with 19 other tribes, are in the negotiations stage of their bid to win a treaty settlement. According to an explanation on the Office of Treaty Settlements website, these claimant groups have signed terms of negotiation and are negotiating with the Crown the basic elements of a settlement such as the nature of the historical account and cultural and commercial redress. The culmination of this stage is the signing of an agreement in principle, which will include a proposed financial quantum of the settlement. Tuhoe's lead negotiator Tamati Kruger apparently wants to garner extra support by putting his case to the mainstream media.

What does self-government mean? Kruger said the tribe wanted to self-govern the area stretching from Opotiki to Putere on the Wairoa side, and the edge of Taupo and Rotorua on the other side. As a big-picture kind of guy, Kruger is untroubled by the administrative shambles this would create by cutting into territory administered by the Taupo, Rotorua, Kawerau, Whakatane, Opotiki, Gisborne, Wairoa and Hastings district councils.

In an area with a population of fewer than 15,000 people of all ethnicities, Kruger gives no indication whether Tuhoe will govern all people in this area or just Tuhoe people. Since the area includes many living on government handouts, it is obvious that fewer than 15,000 people could not be self-sufficient and could not generate sufficient rates or tax revenue to support self-government. Therefore, the area would rely on state support and exist as a parasitic self-governing region – a region latched on to a state.

Maybe Kruger realizes this and his fallback position as a negotiator is co-management of the Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana along the same lines as lucrative the Waikato River co-management deals which created perpetual river of money for a handful of tribal notables to attend occasional meetings.

In fact, Tuhoe self-government was agreed upon in the 1896 Urewera District Native Reserve Act. That legislation followed visits by Premier Seddon, together with James Carroll, who travelled around the Urewera district, spoke with the leaders and brought them to Wellington for negotiation and discussion. According to the Waitangi Tribunal, “the Crown saw itself as granting the peoples of Te Urewera real powers of self-government and collective tribal control of their lands”, and the fate of the Urewera District Native Reserve is a subject for future tribunal discussion.. Whether a native reserve planned in 1896 is at all feasible in 2011 is another question.

There remains the question of whether an impartial judge weighing the pros and cons of history would award Tuhoe any settlement at all. The Crown, which is all of us including Tuhoe, and Tuhoe, will negotiate an agreed official version of Tuhoe history that will spin the details of the past into a web of mistreatment and victimization. Before that happens, here are the main points:

According to Part 1 of the Te Urewera Report, in 1865 the Urewera people were not in any real sense governed by the Crown. Contact with the colonial government involved confiscation of land in the eastern Bay of Plenty. The land was taken for resistance to the East Coast Expeditionary force, which landed in Opotiki in 1865. The Crown sent the force following the killing of the German Lutheran missionary Carl Sylvius Volkner and a number of others in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

Volkner was killed by followers of Taranaki prophet Te Ua Haumene, who formed his church of Hauhau, also known as Pai Marire, in 1862. Te Ua attracted government attention when fanatical followers attacked and defeated a patrol of imperial and colonial forces at Te Ahuahu, north Taranaki, on April 6, 1864. The event was shocking to settlers because the bodies of the seven soldiers killed in the attack were found naked and decapitated. The heads, including that of expedition leader Captain T. W. J. Lloyd, were smoke-dried and used as a medium in Pai Marire rites.

Te Ua sent two prophets, Kereopa Te Rau and Patara Raukatauri, to the East Coast in December 1864. Those prophets converted most of the Whakatohea tribe at Opotiki, and their activities resulted in the murder of Volkner on March 2, 1865. Kereopa swallowed Volkner’s eyes and passed around a chalice filled with the victim’s blood for his believers to drink from. Volkner’s head was carried to the Gisborne area for use in recruitment, an act disgusting to many of the East Coast tribe Ngati Porou, many of whom devoutly attended church and knew Volkner personally.

Tuhoe always argue that they were not involved with these killings or in the resistance to the force sent to arrest those responsible. Nevertheless, the area that was confiscated, which was the fertile Bay of Plenty coastal land north of a line running from approximately Opotiki through Putauaki (Mount Edgecumbe) and slightly further west, and then north to Otaramaraka, was an area Tuhoe claim extensive, though not exclusive rights and interests in. The Waitangi Tribunal says the Tuhoe area of interest totaled 59,655 acres (24,147 ha), about half of Tuhoe’s best fertile land.

The tribunal noted that the Crown did not intend to punish Tuhoe, and when it became clear that Tuhoe claimed a significant part of the confiscated land, the Crown could have abandoned its claim or returned land through its special commissioner or compensated Tuhoe through the Compensation Court. The tribunal noted that Tuhoe were not successful in that court. Thenceforth, Tuhoe regarded the colonial government as an enemy.

Tuhoe chose the wrong side when they fought with Rongowhakaata Hauhaus against colonial government troops on January 13, 1866, at Te Kopani, near the southern shore of Lake Waikaremoana. According to Historian James Cowan, 60 Hauhaus were killed, as were 14 government loyalists. A number of prisoners were executed. Cowan described the battle has between traditional foes exacerbated by the split between fanatical Hauhaus and devout Anglicans with devastatingly effective leadership by Ngati Porou fighter Rapata Wahawaha for the government. In Part 2 of the Urewera Report, the Waitangi Tribunal concluded that the Crown was “wholly at fault, attacking people who were simply retreating or defending themselves”.

Tuhoe, with their close relatives Ngati Whare, backed another loser when they supported and fought with messianic leader Te Kooti who had fought for the government side at Waerenga a Hika in November 1865, who was jailed on the Chatham Islands on suspicion of supporting the Hauhaus, who escaped from the Chathams, and led a murderous guerrilla campaign against colonial troops. Te Kooti and his fighters had murdered 70 people at Matawhero, Poverty Bay, on November 10, 1868, and had sustained a heavy defeat by Crown forces at Ngatapa in December 1868. Under Te Kooti’s leadership, Tuhoe and Ngati Whare, with some other Te Urewera groups, launched a series of attacks in the Bay of Plenty and at Mohaka, in Hawke’s Bay, on April 10, 1869. Historian James Cowan noted that Tuhoe people were the main killers at Mohaka since they were ancient enemies of the Ngati Pahauwera.

The Waitangi Tribunal said that approximately 80 people were killed in the Bay of Plenty and Mohaka attacks, and thought that the Crown was justified in launching a military operation into Te Urewera in 1869 to catch Te Kooti and those responsible. But the tribunal said that Crown forces acted mercilessly. Non-combatants were killed intentionally, some prisoners were summarily executed, and people were intentionally starved out of the region with the wholesale destruction of crops, and shelter.

The Crown sent subsequent expeditions to the Urewera district in 1870 and 1871. The tribunal criticizes the Crown for twice breaching a peace brokered in 1870, for removing surrendered Urewera communities to the coast, and for failing to ensure that the people it held on reserves were properly provided for.

Tuhoe claimants argue that the Urewera Maori people were not offered the opportunity to sign the Treaty of Waitangi and did not sign it. In the covering letter to the Urewera Report Part 1, the tribunal adopts a paradoxical position in saying “the Crown and claimants agree that in 1840 the Crown undertook Treaty obligations to all Maori, whether or not they had signed the Treaty. We uphold the claimants’ view, however, that since their tipuna knew nothing of the Treaty, it could not, in any real sense, take effect to bind them to its terms.” In other words, the Crown is bound to the treaty but Tuhoe were free to take up arms against the Crown and claim compensation if and when they were defeated.

Any analysis of Britain’s annexation of New Zealand shows that according to beliefs of the time, sovereignty could be ceded by treaty, it may be proclaimed, or it may be claimed after conquest. The assertion of British sovereignty over New Zealand involved all three elements.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6, 1840, and on a number of other occasions around the country by a number of chiefs. Governor William Hobson proclaimed sovereignty over the North Island on May 21, 1840, and Major Thomas Bunbury proclaimed sovereignty over the South Island on June 17, 1840.

The conquest of dissident tribes occurred in the 1860s. By that time approximately 59,000 Pakeha settlers outnumbered 56,000 Maori, and the government had 20,000 imperial troops, sailors, marines, the Colonial Defence Force and “kawanatanga” Maori. The colonial government had the power to assert actual sovereignty, which it did. If it failed to do so, New Zealand would have slipped back into the permanent warfare that characterized the pre-1840 environment.

Much of Part 2 of the Urewera Report traces the alienation of Tuhoe land. In 1875, the government bought four large blocks immediately to the south east of Lake Waikaremoana totalling 178,226 acres. The tribunal argues that the sale was forced by a series of misrepresentations by government agents.

A governing council known as Te Whitu Tekau (the seventy) was established after war ended in 1871. This council defined its boundaries and resolutely opposed sales, leases, roads, the operation of the Native Land Court in its district, and surveys. The tribunal argued that the government should have worked with this council but in fact chipped away at the powers and structure of the council.

In Part 2 of the report, the Waitangi Tribunal criticizes the activity of the Native Land Court in the Urewera district, as the tribunal has done for every district throughout New Zealand. From 1878 right through until 1894, approximately 377,000 acres of Urewera land were transformed from customary land to native land title and awarded to the claimants. By 1930, more than 82 per cent of that land had been sold by the Maori owners.

The Waitangi Tribunal has argued that the individualization of title as done by the Native Land Court was bad, but I’m sure those 19th Maori owners who were able to benefit from individualization of title would argue that it was a benefit to them. Those who buy and sell property know that once it is sold it has gone forever.

You now have a brief summary of the history of a tribe that made some unwise choices. Since Tuhoe lead negotiator Tamati Kruger is taking his case to the public, what would you do if you were an impartial judge? Would you order compensation for those defeated in battle? Would you pay compensation on the basis that 19th century land transactions were entered into without consideration of the consequences? You would probably need a bit more information to weigh the scales of justice on the behaviour of government agents in the sale and purchase of the four large blocks south east of Lake Waikaremoana. And, of course, would you support Tuhoe self-governance of the Urewera region?

Tuhoe has self-governance in its sights, New Zealand Herald, October 1, 2011.
Cowan, James, The New Zealand Wars and the Pioneering Period, Volume 2, R.E. Owen, Government Printer, New Zealand, 1955 reprint
Te Urewera Pre-publication report, part 1,
Te Urewera Pre-publication report, part 2,{C222CD7F-F2E7-4E1A-AC51-39D2A3D510DE}


Ray said...

Perhaps these people should talk to Finlayson, he has just signed off a deal on navy land in Devonport. He is a soft touch, so they should have no trouble.
The scenario you outline re self government is just how I would see it playing out, doing what they want while supported by the taxpayer.
However, a self governing entity within a country is unworkable and must fail, even if all races within the entity are included.
Next step would be annexing of the area. Spare me please.

Anonymous said...

I thought we were all one people but Finlayson and Maori want to split us apart further.
Get rid of treaty deals and move forward as one. We will never prosper as a country whilst elite Maori are coining the cash while their own people are below the poverty line. The Elitist want the money for themselves and want us taxpayers to support their own people.

Anonymous said...

"In the covering letter to the Urewera Report Part 1 ... 'the Crown and claimants agree that in 1840 the Crown undertook Treaty obligations to all Maori, whether or not they had signed the Treaty.'"

Arrant nonsense. The Treaty of Waitangi was NOT with a collective "Maori" (no such entity existed in 1840) but with TRIBES.

Many signed it, but a substantial minority (centered around the Tainui and Tuhoe Confederations) did not.

There is a simple legal concept called "Privity of Contract" that the Crown should apply to invalidate Treaty claims from Tainui and Tuhoe:

"You didn't sign the contract. You not entitled to its protection. Nor can you claim redress for alleged 'breaches.'

"You tried it on with the Crown and lost. You deserved anything that happened to you. Shut up, stop whining, FO!"

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day just give the land back
it doesnt belong to the crown, they
confiscated it the land for there own personal
wealth, and today they still do the same thing.
with the millions the moari tribes are owed
I kid you not that money is being invested or the lands are being borrowed against why do you think
they take so long to sort land issues out.
Do I think we should be compensated yes
Do I think the right Person is doing the negotiation for Tuhoe NO
Hes A long line of Moari people Looking out for themselves.
The peoples negotiator know him for a lot of things, but what has he really done for the tuhoe people? They put these hauoras up what have they done Zip.
When he realises that this should be about OUR CHILDREN AND THE ELDERS and not his pocket and anyone else associated with him, maybe things will flow easy.
On Another Note 15 million dollars thats right on a building in Taneatua for the congress of Tuhoe to meet what a Joke and if Tameiti,tamati,matt and who ever else is involved is not doing this for the People and children of Tuhoe. more like there Pockets