Friday, March 25, 2016

Mike Butler: A negotiator and a $308m bonanza

Land stolen from Maoris made our country wealthy and everyone who has benefited must help put it right, according to Rick Barker, a former Labour Government Minister who has reinvented himself as a treaty negotiator.

Barker, who leads negotiations for the Crown in the Wairarapa-Dannevirke area, wrote an article in the latest edition of Bay Buzz magazine, which is distributed around Hawke’s Bay, softening up Hawke’s Bay residents for a wave of treaty settlements coming down the pipeline.

He is mates with Bay Buzz editor Tom Belford. Both are elected members of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Six claimant groups are involved in settling Hawke’s Bay “grievances”.

Hastings-based Heretaunga-Tamatea is in line for $117-million, Napier-based Mana Ahuriri $19.5-million, Ngati Hineuru $27-million, a Wairoa group expects $100-million, Ngati Pahauwera (between Wairoa and Napier) received $20-million, and Mangaharuru Tangitu (between Napier and Taupo) received $25-million.

One further settlement involving the Hawke’s Bay Ngati Kahungunu tribe is in the Wairarapa.

Barker did not include financial redress amounts for Wairoa, or Mana Ahuriri and did not provide a total for the six above-mentioned groups. However, settlement documents that are freely available on the Office of Treaty Settlements website shows the total financial redress for those six groups is $308.5-million.

Such a whopping total is difficult to justify compared with Waikato-Tainui that sustained massive land confiscation received $170-million in 1995 and is currently receiving top-ups. Moreover, the the settlement of Hawke’s Bay was largely peaceful and tribes benefited from the new economy by selling land.

Barker starts by citing the “English version” of the Treaty of Waitangi as promising Maori the “exclusive and undisturbed possession of lands, forests, fisheries, and other properties”.

Most readers would not notice that within the first paragraph Barker was winging it, because if he had checked with “the English version” he would have seen the actual words were “the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties.”

For anyone trying to distinguish between the final correct English draft of the treaty that was translated into Maori and incorrect early drafts, the phrase “Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries” that appears in article 2 of the incorrect drafts is the first place to look.

Barker may or may not know that the phrase he tried to quote did not appear in the Maori text that the chiefs signed. Our negotiator goes on to say
“There is nothing ambiguous about ‘exclusive and undisturbed’, but disturbed it was. Muskets, cannons, trickery and downright deceit ensured that Maori were dispossessed of their lands, forests and treasures, depriving them of their wealth from which they could sustain their families and communities. Maori were dispossessed of their own land.”
Hawke’s Bay readers, which make up the audience Barker was writing for, could reasonably conclude that “muskets, cannons, trickery and downright deceit” ensured that Hawke’s Bay Maori were dispossessed of their lands, forests and treasures.

Not so. There was some limited armed conflict, as that which occurred on October 12, 1866, when a 100-member Pai Marire-Hauhau war party holed up in a stockade near Napier refused to surrender, resulting in 22 deaths, mostly Hauhaus. Some may recall that Hauhau fighters routinely beheaded their victims, just like ISIS does now, dried the heads, and used the heads in quasi-religious ceremonies.

Some land up the Napier-Taupo road was confiscated as a consequence of this Hauhau incursion. Claimants maintained that the Hauhau leader was actually on a mission of peace and was grossly mistreated and the Waitangi tribunal believed them.

A further 611 pro and anti-government Maori as well as soldiers and settlers were killed chasing another quasi-religious Maori guerrilla leader Te Kooti in northern Hawke’s Bay from 1869-1872. Te Kooti’s forces murdered 70 non-combatants at Matawhereo on November 8, 1868, and murdered 63 (both Pahauwera and settlers) at Mohaka on April 12, 1869. The government admitted liability for both and paid compensation both to the victims of Te Kooti’s fighters and to the descendents of those fighters. As the Americans say "go figure!"

There was a period when a vendor chief in southern Hawke’s Bay wished to reneg on land sales he made. He gained supporters along with a runholder who was in a dispute with a former government agent. This “repudiation movement” resulted in an investigation in 1873 into land sales in Hawke’s Bay.

The history of the settlement of Hawke’s Bay involved a long sequence of land sales. By 1875, according to a Waitangi Tribunal overview report on Hawke’s Bay, the Crown bought approximately 1,500,000 acres for just under £40,000. The Reserve Bank inflation calculator says £40,000 in 1875 would be worth $5.6-million today.

Remember also that the land was undeveloped. Napier was a limestone island surrounded by sea linked to the land by two shingle spits, and Hastings was a swamp that flooded with heavy winter rain.

Chiefs could participate in the settler economy that grew after 1840 by developing their land, leasing it, or selling it.

Most chose to lease or sell their land. Few if any showed any sign of understanding credit, mortgages, or developing an asset over time. Most ticked up credit with merchants and used their land to clear the debt.

By 1930, less than 200,000 acres of the total Hawke’s Bay area of 2.5-million acres remained in Maori ownership.

Was Barker trying to make us feel guilty for all the misdeeds of the past? Barker presents what he says is a quote from another Labour Minister, Mat Rata, who purportedly said (to a questioning student) that:
“The stolen lands became the basis on which the country’s wealth was made, which in turn built this university that was a benefit to (the student), so in that sense she was a direct beneficiary of the wrongs. It was as a beneficiary, Matt said, she had a responsibility to help put it right”.
My question is that if we benefit from stolen land, and if this makes it our responsibility to put it right, what if the land was not stolen? What if the treaty settlement process is a huge try-on based on fabricated tales of woe that no one in authority has the courage to wind it back or even challenge it?

History shows that land in Hawke’s Bay was sold, and not stolen using “muskets, cannons, trickery and downright deceit”, as Barker wrote. In fact, successive governments bought almost all of New Zealand’s 26 million hectares of land, as stacks of sales and purchase deeds in national archives show.

The guilt-responsibility argument peddled by Barker and attributed to Rata only works on those who are ignorant of New Zealand history, or those who buy into a white liberal guilt trip. Treaty negotiator Barker contrasts favourably the new tribal companies known as “post settlement governance entities” created through the treaty settlement process with what he calls “the typical New Zealand company”. He writes:
“It’s thought that the typical New Zealand company grows around the personality of an individual, who eventually opts for a beach house, boat, and a relaxing life after a successful career. This will not be the case for these PSGEs. They are designed and built to be intergenerational. Their leadership understand and plan accordingly.”
What Barker does not say is that the “typical New Zealand company” is often started with saved or borrowed money, often secured against the business owner’s home, trades in an open market without guarantee of success, and pays tax.

Neither does he say that the new tribal companies have millions upon millions of dollars in seed capital given to them as “treaty settlements”, are given properties with long-term leases to government departments as part of the seed capital to guarantee income a long way ahead, and are permitted to trade as charities so pay little or no tax.

Increasingly, “typical New Zealand companies” are paying tax that helps set up rival new tribal companies that have an inbuilt competitive advantage by being tax exempt.

The new tribal companies are routinely praised as economic miracles, especially South Island tribal company Ngai Tahu. However, former Ngai Tahu CEO Aneke Goodall told the HB Today newspaper this month that the Ngai Tahu return on assets was only 4 percent per year.
“How can that be a good thing?’, he said. “This is a charitable entity. It pays no tax, has rights of first refusal on some pretty unique opportunities and the best we can do is four percent?”
One final observation . . if a person negotiating a deal between the Crown and a tribal claimant group appears so solidly on the side of the claimant group, how can anyone expect the negotiation to be in any way robust?

FOOTNOTE: A further treaty negotiator made the news during the past week when Dame Patsy Reddy was named as the next Governor General Both Barker and Reddy have received substantial income as negotiators. In February 2013, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson revealed that $5.5-million has been paid to 14 individuals since 2008. Reddy had earned $568,917 and Barker $48,660.


paul scott said...

Its bad, but we can be forgiven. Best I send our tiny family savings to the Government patsy to distribute as they she sees fit. If this Government is wiping its nose over the flag, it can rest assured he will be remembered as an utter failure within social equity and glaring racism.

Anonymous said...

..corruption in high and low places...! the 'iwi' money grabbing machine just rolls on and on and on......

A.G.R. said...

It' the same old story. If you leave an empty box at your front gate, & in the morning it's full of money, of course you place it there again. As far as our pathetic administrators are concerned, honesty & truth have nothing to do with reality. I have sent letters to Judd, Finlayson & the P.M., explaining & outlining the true history of N.Z.. Their response, DEADLY SILENCE..
It concerns me greatly, when the leader of the National Party is prepared to endorse a communist to lead the U.N.

Ribka said...

I can finally see that there are other Kiwi's who object to the "Open Purse" for Maori. I am not against funding genuine cases of poverty but do not agree with an open 'Bank" so often given for spurious cases with no obligations to re-pay.