Monday, December 11, 2017

John Robinson: Open Letter To The Treaty Minister

To Andrew Little: Minister for Treaty Settlements

I have worked on gathering information on Treaty issues, as a consultant for the Treaty of Waitangi Unit at the Department of Justice, and with the Victoria University treaty of Waitangi Research Unit in projects for the Crown Forestry Rental Trust.

This was in addition to other research for Massey University and Te Puni Kokiri, which was focussed on data and not Treaty issues.

All effort in those organisations was to find wrongs committed by government, in an adversarial situation – to support lawyers in a court of law, making every effort to put the case for a client, and not as independent scholars. There was no effort to prepare and present a case for the Crown – to protect public property and rights.

Highly selective in accepting information

Any information critical of, or opposed to, the case being made was rejected. Thus I was required to rewrite one report that found that at the end of the nineteenth century, when large proportion of land had been sold, the population of northern South Island Maori had recovered from previous decline.

I had to blur that message, which contradicted the accepted dogma of a “cataclysm” for Te Tau between 1850 and 1900.

On one occasion I appeared before the Waitangi Tribunal. The meeting room was crowded with Maori who had come to support the grievance. Several lawyers attacked my evidence aggressively, which is an uncomfortable situation unfamiliar to a scholar. There was no effort to understand what the facts were telling us. The two young Government lawyers were obviously overawed and kept their heads down.

This became worse under Finlayson. It has been evident that his every sympathy was with the claimants, and some decisions have been absurd.

The unfair settlement over Taputeranga

I have lived in Island Bay and took a particular interest in the Ngati Toa settlement. I mention two issues among many.

Taputeranga, the island of Island Bay, was given to Ngati Toa on the grounds that they attacked and took it in 1827. That savage, murderous attack should be no ground for rewarding their descendents. But in any case, the claim is a lie as Ngati Mutunga carried out the attack.

The settlement included “$10,000,000 in recognition of the Crown’s actions in undermining the maritime domain of Ngati Toa Rangatira in the Cook Strait region in the nineteenth century”. Here $10 million was paid with an apology for asserting law and preventing further bloody raids, bringing peace to the region around Cook Strait.

I celebrate the change of government and the end of Finlayson’s time as Minister for Treaty Settlements.

New government = new approach?

I hope that you have considered significant changes in the formulation of any future settlements. My experience points to two particular important features.

These settlements deal with public goods, property and rights, and should be carried out in public rather than as private negotiations. There will then be significant input from the public who are concerned, and I hope that these will be treated with respect and taken seriously. I saw that carefully prepared submissions concerning the Ngati Toa settlement were never permitted until the Select Committee met, and were then ignored without (in my case) any serious question being asked.

Negotiations should involve a thorough consideration of all information. Your first task as representative for the Crown – the Government and the public – is to gather information supportive of past Government actions. The discussion can then proceed with due recognition of possible differing points of view.

Based on my experiences and observations, I suggest a comprehensive revamp of services provided to your office.

Government agents have been acting in support of claimants against Government interests, in a seriously skewed and one-sided collection and presentation of information.

The opposite is required: a team dedicated to the protection of the public, working firmly to prepare a case in support of Crown actions.

With best wishes,
Dr John Robinson

Dr John Robinson is a research scientist, who has investigated a variety of topics, including the social statistics of Maori.  His recognition of fundamental flaws in the interpretation of nineteenth century Maori demographics led him to consider the history of those times in several books.

This letter was first published HERE


Ray S said...

This article reinforces something I had always suspected. Finlayson was, and probably still, very close to most claimants. This by itself is questionable particularly when he was able to do settlement "deals" with claimants. One would hope that Mr.Little is able to be totally objective in his dealings with maori but I suspect the appeasement approach will continue.

Brian said...

Treaty Settlements.
My congratulations to Dr. John Robinson on his open letter to the Treaty Minister. I have reservations whether any change will occur, as Labour relies on the Maori seats as part of retaining power.
However “Hope as they say springs eternal”.
For some reason which defies logic, Western Civilisation is clouded with guilt over its past treatment of indigenous people during the colonial process of expansion and of the civilising process. Heaps of hate criticism being part of the process, a process which avoids the mention of the benefits Western Culture brought to the uncivilised.
The real reason behind all this rhetoric and hate is political, and in the case of the United Nations in their drive for World Government. The Left both here, and in Australia are slightly behind what has happened in Europe and the U.S.A. The use of violence is increasing to promote their viewpoints, and it is just a matter of time before New Zealand succumbs.
Dr Robinson is not the first to have his facts distorted by the ideological left; posing their “concern” for Maori wrongs; we can expect more of the same as the left becomes all powerful.
I again use the quotation.
“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
― Patrick Henry.
Brian said...

Thank you John Robinson. You have confirmed what a lot of us have suspected for some time. I believe we simply want a fair and balanced historical account.

Unknown said...

As soon as the considerable evidence for previous populations who were living on these islands before the Maori arrived and are no longer with us due to their murder by Maori is exposed to the general population this whole treaty settlement issue goes away. As immigrants, like the Europeans, Maori have no claim to these islands as the original inhabitants. Maori in their own oral tradition say their were other peoples here when they arrived. The Maori are lucky that the British crown did not deal with them as harshly as they dealt to the former inhabitants of New Zealand and must be told they have no claim on land because they were not the original inhabitants. Or is our government going to keep rewarding Genocide and all the other mischief of a bunch of heartless cannibals. Some culture to emulate and teach school children eh? I for one am sick of a bunch of Maori insisting on showing up at major events they have no part of ,rolling their eyes, waving sticks and poking their tongues out.Time to stop this silliness

Tim Hawley said...

re treaty settlements
very interesting comments by John Robinson and others.
I am wondering why the current NZ population of Nz are having to make all these settlements
when the 19th century deals were done by the British Crown when Nz was a colony so surely the Uk should be paying som e share of the costs considering we did not become and independant
Dominion till the early 20th century!!??
we were even a part of Australia for a while .
Perhaps the new minister may like to ask Teresa May for a contribution as was done in
some pacific islands ?
Tim Hawley

Anonymous said...

@Ray SLet's hope you are right that Little will be more objective than Finlayson was. Time will tell!