Friday, November 1, 2013

Mike Butler: Should this treatyist remain a sir?

Prime Minister John Key gave three reasons why former Justice Minister Doug Graham should retain his knighthood, with the first reason his role as Treaty Negotiations Minister. So what was so great about Graham’s work in treaty matters?

Graham went down in the 2008 collapse of the Lombard finance company along with Bill Jeffries, Lawrence Bryant, and Michael Reeves. The Supreme Court last week turned down an application for an appeal against their convictions, but it granted them leave to appeal against their sentences.

1. He caved in to two tribes, Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu, who had already received full and final settlements in the 1940s, by giving them both $170-million. Ngai Tahu had already received four settlements to disputes resulting from selling most of the South Island.

2. He included relativity clauses in both those settlements that committed governments for 50 years to pay a percentage of all settlements over $1-billion (in 1994 dollars) to both tribes.

3. He gave away cash and assets worth $170-million in a commercial fisheries settlement with tribes around New Zealand that started when a few part-time fishers in the Far North demanded a share of the quota system.

4. He failed to support the property rights of non-Maori farmers forced off their land near Dargaville by Te Roroa claimants whose claim had no basis in fact.

Graham was involved in up to 20 settlements and continued as a treaty negotiator after politics, earning $186,901 since 2008. Some of his treaty handiwork is already coming unstuck.

Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu are not satisfied with the amount of their first relativity payment and are demanding more. The government is not thrilled with it either and have gone to ground over the matter, refusing to release any details, citing privacy concerns.

Key was reported as saying: "New Zealand is a better country today because of the work Sir Douglas did as treaty negotiations minister, and my judgement is that he deserves to retain his knighthood".

It is worrying that such senior establishment figures as well as commentators believe that Graham’s redistribution of state assets to 20 or so family groups has somehow benefited New Zealand as a whole.

Bellicose demands by race hucksters in parliament and around the country mean New Zealand now appears more racially divided than when the settlement process began.

Government agencies set up to manage the settlement process were captured by claimants. The Crown Forestry Rental Trust, that funds claimants, has ground to a halt over conflict-of-interest infighting. The Waitangi Tribunal has failed to act impartially and now advocates for any whim claimants come up with.

Conspicuous by their silence are the 20 or so groups on the receiving end of Graham’s generosity. They appear happy to receive the goodies but lack the integrity to speak out in support of their benefactor.

The other treaty negotiating sir, Tipene O’Regan, who represented Ngai Tahu, has an excuse for not sticking up for Graham because he is facing civil action for his role in the collapse of another finance company, Hanover.


Anonymous said...

'Sir' Doug is a pompous ass who sold off NZs assets to appease his Maori mates and enshrined us to forever paying more to greedy Maori tribes.
Now a convicted criminal and still able to retain his 'Sir' title makes a complete mockery of the title and shames NZ. John Key has betrayed NZ in his pathetic pandering to any wish of his Maori coalition partners. He would have been better to has said no and called an early election. Even Helen Clarke stopped at giving away our coastline.

Barry said...

I think that Doug Graham should be still serving a life sentence in jail for the treachery of his "work" in "treaty settlements".

Anonymous said...

lock Doug up and throwaway key!!

Anonymous said...

I never did understand why this pompous nose-rubbing ass was knighted. He certainly deserved Maori recognition - in the form of a feathered cloak.

Honour is clearly not his forte or else he'd have "returned" his knighthood the instant he was, totally justifiably, found guilty of misrepresentation. Ignorance is no excuse for the layman offender - why does his pretended ignorance absolve him.

The only explanation I can imagine for his conduct is that he has a hefty percentage of maori in his blood.

I hold the man in total contempt.

David Stevenson said...

Is the ongoing dignity attached to appointments of high office or prestige awards best left to pragmatic politicians to determine ? Small comfort to failed Lombard investors or thousands of others (their shocking anecdotes are numberless). The answer

was left recently to our pragmatic Prime Minister and a defaulter who once had an otherwise impeccable background to decide. Which was best protected ? The reputation of one person or a history of tradition and standards. Admittedly Knighthoods conferred by a Monarch always will be sullied by some

recipients one way or another.

But both sides can strive to take a higher moral ground than the other. The ball is in their court. We don`t live in times where individuals once fell on their sword in matters of honour. When agreements were sealed with a handshake. When Greek philosophers argued ethics

and how many angels could dance on a pin head until the cows came home.

Oliver Goldsmith in his poem in the 1770`s (The Deserted Village) held a strong opinion and prediction upon the gradualism of lessening standards within communities and where it leads. But , maybe that was old fashioned yesteryear concern.