Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mike Butler: Sir Douglas' role questioned

Bitter investors want convicted former Lombard director Sir Douglas Graham, a National Party man, stripped of his knighthood while Labour leader David Shearer argues that since the honour was for treaty settlements, it should remain untouched. Therefore, what was the beleaguered knight’s role in treaty work?

Sir Douglas was convicted, on February 24, along with former-Justice Minister Bill Jeffries (Labour) and two other men, of making false statements to investors in his capacity as a director of Lombard finance. He faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of $300,000.

As part of the Bolger National government, in 1991 Doug Graham became Treaty Negotiations Minister, completing 10 agreements totalling $522,233,000 before he retired from politics in 1999. These included the $170-million commercial fisheries deal in 1992, the $760,000 Ngati Rangiteaorere and $716,000 Hauai settlements in 1993; the $5.21-million Ngati Whakaue Rotorua deal in 1994; the $170-million Waikato/Tainui raupatu deal, the $375,000 Waimakuku deal, $43,000 Rotoma deal, and the $129,000 Te Maunga deal, all in 1995; the $170-million Ngai Tahu settlement in 1998, and the $5-million Ngati Turangitukua settlement in 1999.

Singing and tears in parliament heralded those settlements at a time when a “fiscal envelope”, which imagined a redress total of $1-billion, was hotly debated. But settlement issues would not go away, and it was obvious that further ingenious add-ons would turn the trickle of treaty money into a torrent. Issues included:

The $170-million commercial fisheries deal was based on an ultra-generous interpretation that pre-existing and unextinguished collective tribal fishing rights protected by section 88(2) of the Fisheries Act 1983, extended out to the 200km exclusive economic zone. Note: Maori coastal fishing in 1840 was limited to canoes that could not go 200km out on the ocean.

Apparently, the Crown’s opening offer of 10 percent of quota left Maori negotiators gobsmacked. It was twice the 5 percent they thought they might reach, given the flimsy basis for their claims. But they were much more shrewd and ruthless negotiators than the Crown and eventually settled at 20 percent.

Waikato-Tainui had received, before the 1995 settlement, annual payments of ₤3000 since a 1926 (Sim commission) recommendation for land unjustly confiscated after the 1863 invasion. The Waikato-Maniapoto Maori Claims Settlement Act 1946 was regarded as a final settlement and provided ₤5000 a year to the Tainui Maori Trust Board in perpetuity plus a further ₤5000 and £1000 a year for 45 years, to cover arrears.

But none of this was conceded. Waikato-Tainui settled through direct negotiation with the government, bypassing the Waitangi Tribunal. Without an inquiry, details of Waikato-Tainui history are limited to the sketchy overview stated in the Crown apology.

The agreement included a relativity clause that would provide Waikato-Tainui with 17 percent of settlements over the $1-billion mark.

Ngai Tahu’s complaint was that the tribe did not have enough land. The tribe, which listed 1338 kaumatua (elders) in 1848, sold almost the entire 37.366-million acres of the South Island in 10 agreements from 1844 to 1864 for a total of ₤14,750 (about one year’s pay for 164 people). They chose to lease their remaining land rather than work it and found the rents inadequate to live on.

Efforts to settle this included the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906, which granted 142,463 acres of land to settle 4063 “landless” Maori, and the Ngai Tahu Claim Settlement Act 1944, which awarded ₤300,000, payable at a rate of ₤10,000 a year for 30 years. The annual payment was increased to £20,000 in the late 1960s, and changed to an in-perpetuity payment in 1973. The $170-million settlement in 1998 was on top of all this.

Ngai Tahu also has a relativity clause entitling them to16 percent of all settlements once the $1-billion total is reached. Completed settlements amount to $2.079.1-billion, and settlements awaiting legislation total $375.853-million. The combined total is $2.455-billion.

Sir Douglas, whose signature is on the Ngai Tahu deal, helped launch this flawed process, which, courtesy of the Waitangi Tribunal’s broad re-definition of a grievance, allows tribal trusts everywhere to await multi-million dollar payouts irrespective of their history, compensation and co-governance deals for coastline, water, air, biodiversity, minerals, intellectual property – you name it.

They also expect first-dibs arrangements, such as the deal between Taranaki’s Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust and the New Zealand Energy Corp, announced on Saturday. The trust helps the company through the resource consent, permitting and development process and trust members gain a first right for business, employment, educational and training opportunities. The government hopes that other companies and iwi will see this as a blueprint for agreements elsewhere in New Zealand.

This is the situation Sir Douglas Graham helped create. Does Shearer support this? Will the tribes who benefited from the besieged knight’s largesse now come to his support?


Anonymous said...

"My ancestors stole land from my ancestors."
After generations of intermarriage just who is a Maori?

Anonymous said...

Thats just it ! Who nowadays is a Maori. If I have one true Maori great-grandparent and seven pakeha ones. Just what right do I have of lauding it over those who have eight pakeha gran's. Commonsense says: none. We once had a chance for a world renowned multicultural society before Graham came on the scene, now we are heading rapidly to parity with the rest of the world.