Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mike Butler: Sir William and the Waikato Times

The experts who last week sought to “deconstruct” comments on the Treaty of Waitangi by Hamilton businessman Sir William Gallagher could face a bit of deconstructing themselves.

The fencing manufacturer caused a stir during a speech to Waikato businesspeople on Friday night, November 24, and was reported to have said that there was no doubt Maori ceded sovereignty, and criticised “reparations, among other things.

In reaction, University of Auckland professor Dame Anne Salmond called the views “unbalanced”, and pointed to “the Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi” that “shows Maori did not cede sovereignty, but instead agreed to a gift exchange: kawanatanga for tino rangatiratanga”.


“Kawanatanga” and “tino rangatiratanga” were of no relevance to me until I started researching The First Colonist, which is a book about my great grandfather who arrived in Wellington two weeks before the treaty was signed. The 19th century letters, newspapers and debates show that today’s treaty dogma differs vastly from the treaty as negotiated in the context of its time.

The treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori. “Sovereignty” in the first article of the English text was translated into “kawanatanga” in the Maori. “Ownership” in Article 2 of the English was translated into “rangatiratanga”.

Dame Anne’s alleged exchange of “kawanatanga for tino rangatiratanga”, is based on a back-translation from the Maori text Te Tiriti into English done in the 1980s by the late Sir Hugh Kawharu, a Waitangi Tribunal member.

Sir Hugh asserted that Maori signatories would not understand "kawanatanga" as "sovereignty", and said that "tino rangatiratanga" meant "unqualified exercise" of chieftainship”.

Sir Hugh ignored missionary William Colenso’s account of the treaty debate, available online here , which showed that chiefs understood that signing the treaty meant accepting a chief over them. Sir Hugh ignored any source document that Te Tiriti was translated from.

By changing the meanings of two key words, the Treaty became a deal in which the signatory chiefs agreed to settlers having a governor to keep settlers in line while the chiefs could carry on being chiefs. The implication is that if the chiefs were not allowed to carry on being chiefs, waging war at will, that would be a breach of the treaty requiring compensation.

Therefore, if “kawanatanga” translated “sovereignty” in Article 1 and “rangatiratanga” translated “ownership” in Article 2, Dame Anne’s utterance that “the chiefs were granted tino rangatiratanga too, and those are the absolute powers of a chief”, is simply nonsense.

Littlewood treaty

When Sir William was reported as saying that treaty papers on display at Te Papa were fraudulent documents. he was apparently talking about the so-called Littlewood treaty, the Busby February 4, 1840, draft, which translates almost exactly word for word into Maori.

In the latest revamp of the treaty display, the He Tohu display in Wellington, the Littlewood draft has been taken out of public view. We know that there are substantial differences between the official English text and Te Tiriti, therefore it is safe to conclude, as historians have surmised, that there was another draft that had gone missing.

A draft written by British Resident James Busby dated February 4, 1840, was found during a cleanout of a Littlewood family home in 1989. It has been analysed. An expert, the late Donald Loveridge, has said that this “Littlewood treaty” is possibly the original draft. (See ) Nevertheless, the authorities won’t look at it.

Definition of Maori

Tangata Tiriti co-ordinator Dr Ingrid Huygens took exception to Sir William’s assertion that there is no definition of Maori by saying "to be Maori is to have a whakapapa which related back to a certain iwi and certain ancestors”.

That’s all well and good, but look at the problems that have arisen from regarding as Maori a person who has a single Maori ancestor who lived eight generations ago. That person is substantially more non-Maori than Maori.

As a matter of interest, in Hawaii, blood quantum is used to determine eligibility for a homestead lease from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. Applicants must have a blood quantum of at least 50 percent Hawaiian. (See )

If a 50 percent blood quantum was required in New Zealand, all Maori negative social indicators would vanish – no high Maori incarceration rate, no high welfare dependency.


To counter Sir William’s comment on “these bloody reparations going on", Waikato University associate professor of Maori and Indigenous studies Sandy Morrison said the reparation of Maori was one to two per cent of the value of what was lost through breaches of the Treaty.

The “one to two per cent of the value” argument is an old canard that was posted by Ngai Tahu on their website for years. Therefore, let’s look at what Ngai Tahu “lost” and how was it the result of a treaty breach?

A handful of Ngai Tahu chiefs sold most of the South Island in 10 deals over 20 years from 1844 for a total of £14,750.

Ngai Tahu complained alleged inadequacy of reserves in the 20-million-acre Kemp purchase in 1848. An inquiry in 1868 into these reserves meant a further 4930 acres were granted. This was the first settlement.

Although happy in 1868 with the settlement, Ngai Tahu continued to complain and this led to the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906, which granted 142,463 acres of land to settle 4063 “landless” Maori. This was their second settlement.

Complaints continued. The Native Land Claims commission was appointed in June 1920 to investigate 11 petitions and claims by Maori in different parts of New Zealand, including that of Ngai Tahu regarding the Kemp block purchase. The Ngai Tahu Claim Settlement Act 1944, Ngai Tahu’s third settlement, awarded £300,000, payable at a rate of £10,000 a year for 30 years. This was Ngai Tahu’s third settlement.

Annual payments to Ngai Tahu were scheduled to end in 1973, at which time the settlement was debated yet again, with claims that the 1944 settlement had not been widely discussed or accepted. Payments of $20,000 a year in perpetuity were awarded to Ngai Tahu in 1973, the tribe’s fourth settlement.

Once the Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act 1985 enabled inquiries into claims back to 1840, Henare Rakiihia Tau supported by the Ngai Tahu Maori Trust Board revisited all of Ngai Tahu’s old issues and more resulting in a further $170-million payout in 1997, the tribe’s fifth settlement.


Ngai Tahu, like Waikato-Tainui, negotiated a top-up clause in their 1997 settlement.

The relativity clause of the Ngai Tahu settlement specified that the tribe would receive 16.1 percent of anything paid to other tribes that exceeded $1-billion in 1994 dollars. The government conceded that the $1-billion mark was crossed in June 2012.

Total financial redressed paid to March 31 last year was around $3.3-billion. This means that Ngai Tahu has received a further $350-million or so since 2012, and the top-ups will continue until settlements are completed.

Ngai Tahu’s apparently never-ending river of settlements appears to back up Sir William’s claim of a rort. When it comes to Maori grievances, New Zealand governments look like the gift that just keeps on giving.

Further reading

For a concise look at treaty texts, interpretation, colonisation history, and treaty claims, see Tribes Treaty Money Power, by Mike Butler, Tross Publishing For a detailed look at treaty settlements, see Treaty Transparency

1 comment:

Ray S said...

Does any government have the guts to stop or change the system? I very much doubt it.

My childrens children will forever be saddled with ongoing repeat settlements. Unfortunately very few maori benefit from settlements. Maybe we should adopt a oral history to counter maori oral history, hang on, ours must be written and proved in court, maori do not. This is 2017, somethings not right here.