Friday, April 18, 2014
Mike Butler: Treaty book tells of grievance, greed
If you want to know about treaty politics, grievance and greed, and how we got into a position with a tribal elite routinely claiming half of everything, Tribes, treaty, money, power – a guide to New Zealand’s treaty issues is the book for you. This cannot be a review of the book because I wrote it. But I can tell you what it contains and what it set out to do.
This book, published this week, started in mid 2008 when I put in a written submission opposing the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill, and drove up to Wairakei to present my submission orally to the Maori affairs select committee.
Unfortunately for me, those committee members were not there to listen. Metiria Turei, Tau Henare, and Georgina Te Heu Heu used my submission time to tell me that I was only a pakeha who knew nothing about the issues involved.
Unexpectedly, after that 15-minute argument with three members of the cloth-eared select committee while a ballroom full of claimants behind me listened, I was applauded as I walked out of the room. I was not the only one in that room opposing the bill.
That day six years ago taught me that there was nothing anyone other than the treaty negotiations minister and specific claimants could do to have any input whatsoever in any treaty settlement. Taxpayers fund it but have no say. Parliament rubberstamps whatever is negotiated.
Six years of research followed culminating in Tribes, treaty, money, power, the third book I have written or contributed to on treaty issues. This book is deliberately brief, at just 134 pages, and comprises 36 short chapters with an index to facilitate easy access to information. With a general reader in mind, especially school and university students, the book could be read in one sitting.
Six chapters discuss the treaty of Waitangi, its drafting, the Busby and Te Tiriti texts, the treaty debate in February 5, 1840, the signing, the official English text, and exactly how the treaty was reinterpreted in the 1980s.
Mere mention of “the treaty” these days is enough to set eyes rolling but few understand there are two contradictory interpretations – the version the chiefs agreed on in 1840 and the 1980s version that allows claimants to tap into Crown cash.
The 1840 treaty was a simple, 375-word document, consisting of three articles, a preamble and a postscript, by which Queen Victoria obtained sovereignty over New Zealand (first article). Maori were guaranteed possession of their property that they could sell to the government (second article), and all Maori including the many slaves became the Queen’s subjects, equal to Britons.
The quite different 1980s reinterpretation used to justify mega treaty payouts asserts that the agreement was for the government to govern settlers only while letting chiefs carry on being chiefs -- which is nonsense because were it true chiefs would have kept their slaves and carried on being cannibals.
This book also tells of missionaries, musket wars, land sales, the 1860s armed conflicts, the 1940s settlements, Maori sovereignty protest, the grievance industry from 1985, as well as the rise of the new-rich tribal corporations.
My unbiased view is that it is vital for every New Zealander to understand what lies behind strident claimant demands for money and political power which can tear New Zealand apart.
Tribes, treaty, money, power – a guide to New Zealand’s treaty issues, by Mike Butler, Tross Publishing, Wellington, 2014, has 134 pages, is paperback, is illustrated, costs $20, and is available at www.trosspublishing.co.nz or at a good bookstore near you.
at 2:36 PM