Sunday, September 16, 2012
Mike Butler: $170m Tuhoe deal looks like a U-turn
The Dominion Post thought the deal heralded a brighter path while noting that if hunters and trampers found access impeded or fees charged, and if there is any hint that the state has connived in creating a slush fund through handing over delivery of social services to tribal providers, the government of the day and Tuhoe will feel a backlash. (1)
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson announced the agreement on Tuesday when Key was out of the country. A deed of settlement will be written up by the end of the year to be initialled by negotiators and ratified by Tuhoe members, signed, and implemented by legislation. The financial redress of $170-million is at the same level as the biggest settlements ever – commercial fisheries, Waikato, and Ngai Tahu.
The Finlayson press release summarised Tuhoe grievances without providing historical context while omitting key events. Worrying is the prospect that this version of history will become the official account of Crown-Tuhoe relations.
Tuhoe didn’t sign the treaty, the press release notes. Finlayson appears to have accepted the Waitangi Tribunal argument that the Crown was bound by treaty obligations to all Maori, whether or not they had signed the treaty, but if any Maori knew nothing of the treaty they could not be bound by it so could attack the government with impunity.
Urewera tribes retained control of customary lands, according to the press release, when the Crown confiscated much of it. The Urewera Report Part 1 says that the land confiscated was fertile Bay of Plenty coastal land of which Tuhoe were interested in 59,655 acres (24,147 ha), about half of their best fertile land. These confiscations were part of punishment after Pai Marire Hauhau extremists murdered missionary Carl Volkner at Opotiki on March 2, 1865, and Maori government agent James Fulloon, who was sent to investigate.
Tuhoe were not involved in the Volkner murder. 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. Tuhoe were not successful in that court. Thenceforth, Tuhoe regarded the colonial government as the enemy.
The press release said that war broke out after the confiscations. In fact, war was being waged in other areas before the confiscations -- in Taranaki starting in 1860, and in the Waikato in 1863, with the Pai Marire attacks a recent and dramatic escalation of a struggle for control that the colonial government had to win.
It is important to note that numerous tribes sided with the colonial government. The murder of Volkner brought the East Coast Ngati Porou into the war on the side of the government, because numerous Ngati Porou leaders were devout Anglicans sickened by the barbaric treatment of the minister, who was hanged, decapitated, his blood was drunk, and eyes eaten.
The Crown has since acknowledged that it used scorched earth tactics, executed unarmed prisoners, and killed non-combatants in what one Crown official of the time described as extermination, the press release said.
While these details are shocking to 21st century, non-military sensitivities, they were part of 19th century warfare, as were other details that have been left out of this record, which includes Tuhoe support for and involvement in prophet-guerrilla Te Kooti’s murder of 68 people at Mohaka on April 10, 1869, which included mostly Ngati Pahauwera people as well as seven settlers, including children who were thrown into the air and impaled on bayonets.
Tuhoe sheltered Te Kooti, so the reason why 1300 government troops advanced into the Ureweras in May of 1869, destroying food supplies and strongholds, was to flush Te Kooti out and put an end to his attacks.
The press release says that in 1870, Tuhoe were forced out of Te Urewera and detained at Putere suffering widespread starvation and loss of life. The Urewera report No 1 says Tuhoe left areas that had been destroyed for untouched areas like Ruatoki and Ruatahuna, while Ngati Whare prisoners were detained at Putere, inland from Raupunga, which is near Wairoa.
Local self-government over a 656-acre Urewera Reserve, provided for in the 1896 Urewera District Native Reserve Act, never eventuated, the press release said. The tribe suffered significant loss of land due to Crown tactics. This refers to Maori owners selling land after individual title was awarded through the Native Land Court.
The arrest of Tuhoe prophet Rua Kenana in 1916 by 70 armed police, in which two Tuhoe men were killed, featured in the press release.
The Crown in 1954 established the Urewera National Park, which included most of Ngai Tuhoe’s traditional lands, without consulting Tuhoe. It does not say that in 1958, Urewera claims were settled with a lump sum payment of £100,000. Questions remain as to whether that ₤100,000 went towards settling any grievance, and what happened to that payment made 54 years ago? (4)
Finlayson wrote: “The conditions in Te Urewera, which contains some of our most deprived and isolated communities, show the very real and continued effects of the Crown’s treaty breaches on the daily lives of Ngai Tuhoe people in the present”. Television coverage always features a poorly clad person standing in front of a shack, as well as Tame Iti ejecting snot and wobbling his ample backside.
Only some of Tuhoe’s 35,000 members live in the Ureweras, which is a remote rural community of 15,000 people including numerous non-Tuhoe. The area will always have limited opportunities. Most Tuhoe live and prosper elsewhere. Beneficiary recipients who choose to live in such remote locations will always be poor.
A social service management plan, under the name “mana motuhake”, a term for Maori self-rule, apparently puts welfare and other social service funding into joint Tuhoe-government management. This gives the tribe a vested interest into the proliferation of welfare in the area.
Is this settlement justified? To answer this, I would ask another question. Would we be combing through 19th century history to look for proof of wrongdoing if former justice minister Geoffrey Palmer had not enabled the Waitangi Tribunal to investigate claims back to 1840?
These issues have been thoroughly investigated. In 1926, Supreme Court Judge William Sim chaired a commission to consider whether confiscations in Taranaki, Waikato, Tauranga, Whakatane, Opotiki, Urewera, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay exceeded in quantity what was fair and just. Sim’s recommendations led to the settlements of the 1940s and 1950s, of which included Tuhoe’s 1958 payment of ₤100,000, which would be worth $4.2-million today.
Outdoors groups are happy to have access to the park no matter what entity owns it, and the Wairoa District Council hopes more roads in the area will be sealed as a result. However, another tribe in the area, Ngati Ruapani ki Waikaremoana, has concerns, saying they welcome whatever Tuhoe wants to settle on its side of the Huiarau Range but the Waikaremoana area and the lake should not be included. (5)
1. “Tuhoe deal heralds brighter path”, The Dominion Post, September 14, 2012.
2. Finlayson press release, http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/DocumentLibrary/Ngai_Tuhoe_Press_Release.pdf
4. Settlements of Major Maori Claims in the 1940s, Richard Hill, Department of Justice, Wellington,
1989. http://www.nzcpr.com/Richard Hill’s Report.pdf
5. “Deal has created friction: Tribe” HB Today, Friday, September 14, 2012.
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