Sunday, November 16, 2014
Mike Butler: Ngapuhi report reason to can tribunal
The report that was released on Friday, He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti The Declaration and the Treaty: The Report on Stage 1 of the Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry, is the first stage of the tribunal's inquiry into Far North treaty claims and looks at events before 1840. (1)
Ngapuhi leader David Rankin, a descendent of chief Hone Heke who was the first to sign the treaty, said that the tribunal's emphasis on the Declaration of Independence, which a few had signed in 1835, as being the basis of their relationship with the British, is a lie and that is not what the tribunal was told. (2)
Attorney-General and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson was quick to say: "There is no question that the Crown has sovereignty in New Zealand. This report doesn't change that fact." (3)
Treaty specialist Professor Paul Moon from the Auckland University of Technology was shocked by some statements in the report that he said "This is not a concern about some trivial detail, but over the fundamental history of our country, which the tribunal has got manifestly wrong." (4)
This stage 1 report is a rambling affair comprising eight chapters, and introduction, and a conclusion, Chapter headlines are: Two Peoples Two Worlds, From Encounter to Alliance? He Whakaputanga and the Declaration of Independence, Contested Ground, The British Move towards Annexation, The Negotiation and Signing of te Tiriti, Past Perspectives on te Tiriti and the Treaty, and Claimant and Crown Evidence and Submissions.
The assertion that chiefs did not agree to cede sovereignty is not new and is basic Waitangi Tribunal dogma that flows from the academic Ngati Whatua claimant Sir Hugh Kawharu, who re-translated and reinterpreted of the Treaty of Waitangi to fit claimant aspirations.
Without getting into the details of the semantic twisting involved in this reinterpretation (See http://breakingviewsnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/mike-butler-review-fudges-two-world.html) claimants argued that “the Crown would have authority only over Pakeha, or over territories that rangatira released to the Crown, while rangatira would retain authority in relation to their own communities”. (5)
Bear in mind that Article 1 of the treaty, and this includes Maori text, official English, Littlewood, and Kawharu reinterpretation, says chiefs agree to cede sovereignty, Article 2 guarantees chiefs possession of their property and the right to sell to a person appointed by the Queen, and Article 3 extends to Maori protection and rights as British subjects.
In short, claimants and the Waitangi Tribunal assert that chiefs did not cede sovereignty when the words written clearly on all treaty texts plainly shows that they did and was what they signed up to.
Claimants argue that the chiefs did not understand what they were signing despite an eye-witness account on the February 5, 1840, treaty debate written by pro-Maori missionary William Colenso which described how chief Tareha said: “No Governor for me – for us native men. We, we only are the chiefs, ruler. We will not be ruled over.” (6)
Claimants told the inquiry that “oral traditions provided better evidence of rangatira intentions in 1835 and 1840 than nineteenth-century accounts written by Pakeha”, and "we should give general preference to the evidence of claimant witnesses, because they were the experts on Maori understandings of the declaration and treaty".
Considerable effort went into discrediting Colenso’s eye-witness account with no mention of the “Chinese whispers” problem of oral tradition, in that details of the account are freely altered in each telling to suit the occasion and the audience.
It must be stressed that the “chiefs didn’t cede sovereignty” claim should not be regarded as anything more than grandstanding, or making a big impression to get the biggest response.
The reason I say this is that the Crown has already conceded (7) that everything previous governments did in relation to Ngapuhi was outstandingly bad, shocking even, and Prime Minister John Key indicated his willingness on Waitangi Day of this year to put several hundred million to settle the Ngapuhi claim.
As first adopters of the new age Ngapuhi were the first to benefit, and benefit they did by selling vast swathes of land for stuff they could have never imagined before the wicked white coloniser arrived. Armed conflict in 1845-6 left 94 anti-government Maori and 84 government fighters dead. There were no land confiscations as in Taranaki or Waikato.
Stage one of the Ngapuhi inquiry provides further evidence that the Waitangi Tribunal must be abolished.
1. Maori-only complaint body creates race fault line:
A body that divides citizens along a Maori/non-Maori fault line conflicts with the assumed underlying simple principle that in a democracy like New Zealand all citizens must be treated the same under the law.
There was a massive cheer at the presentation of the report in Waitangi, when the finding that rangatira who signed the treaty had not ceded sovereignty was read out, according to Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, who added that "While some 'red necks' might view the report as Maori separatism, he believed it could have the opposite effect and bring people together. (8)
How can a report that treats citizens differently according to race, and elicits such a jingoistic response at flax roots level, bring people together?
2. Tribunal rewrites history:
David Rankin says the Tribunal report defames the memory of of his ancestor Hone Heke, and of his whanau’s oral histories, and that if the tribunal refuses to alter the report to reflect the testimony he provided at the hearing, he will lodge a Treaty claim against the tribunal itself. (9)
3. The tribunal is biased:
The report said “claimants told us they wanted an inquiry process that aligned with their understanding of both the declaration and the treaty” and “claimants suggested we hold our inquiry in two parts, with the first solely dedicated to understandings of the meaning and effect of the declaration and the treaty.
Instead of acting as a body established to settle certain types of dispute, the tribunal combined claimant testimony with treaty principles to create a persuasive argument advocating for claimants.
4. Tribunal activities undermine private property rights:
Waitangi leader Kingi Taurua told a Stage II hearings of the Northland Inquiry last year that the government to use the Treaty's pre-emption clause to buy back all land currently in private ownership but belonging to Ngati Kawa, Ngati Rahiri and Ngati Rehia, roughly equivalent to the greater Bay of Islands, as it came on to the market and then give it to the hapu. (10)
5. The tribunal is used to extract benefits for tribes:
The tribunal was promoted as an avenue for Maori to air grievances rather than resorting to protest action, and as providing an economic base for Maoridom.
But, as Rankin says: Do you think the average Maori sees any benefit from this? None at all. I have been asked several times to be on trust boards and have been offered large sums of money to do so. I refuse. History will judge the kupapa (traitors) who have abandoned our people for money.
The hearings were held before an inquiry panel comprising Judge Craig Coxhead (Ngati Makino, Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Maru, Ngati Awa), a judge of the Maori Land Court, as presiding officer; Joanne Morris; Kihi Ngatai (Ngaiterangi and Ngati Ranginui); Professor Ranginui Walker (Whakatohea); Keita Walker (Ngati Porou); and Professor Richard Hill (Victoria University of Wellington).
1. He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti The Declaration and the Treaty: The Report on Stage 1 of the Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry, http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/Reports/he-whakaputanga-me-te-tiriti-the-declaration-and-the-treaty-the-report-on-stage-1-of-the-te-paparahi-o-te-raki-inquiry
2. David Rankin on the Waitangi Tribunal decision, http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/11/david-rankinl/
3. Maori did not give up sovereignty: Waitangi Tribunal, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/63196127/Maori-did-not-give-up-sovereignty-Waitangi-Tribunal
5. Introduction, http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/Reports/he-whakaputanga-me-te-tiriti-the-declaration-and-the-treaty-the-report-on-stage-1-of-the-te-paparahi-o-te-raki-inquiry/chapter-1-introduction#H1040.1.1
6. William Colenso at Waitangi. http://www.waitangi.org.nz/dl/William-Colenso-Account-Dramatised.pdf
7. Crown admits Treaty breaches,Northern Advocate, August 6, 2012. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10824972
8. Maori did not give up sovereignty: Waitangi Tribunal, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/63196127/Maori-did-not-give-up-sovereignty-Waitangi-Tribunal
9. David Rankin on the Waitangi Tribunal decision, http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/11/david-rankinl/
10. Call to buy and return land to hapu, Northland Age, March 21, 2013. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503402&objectid=11094101
at 11:09 AM