The ruling comes after applicant Wharenui Clyde Tuna sought to halt what he described as “the hasty destruction by fire of the hut network throughout Te Urewera”.1
“Between the burning down of the Kanohirua hut at the end of October 2022, the applicant believes between 15 and 20 huts have been burnt down by employees or contractors of the second respondent [Trustees of Tūhoe – Te Uru Taumatua],” the judgement said.
But since the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre near Lake Waikaremoana was demolished in 2016, the Tūhoe tribe was accused of embarking on a "colonial purge" while positioning themselves against a neighbouring tribe over the control of Lake Waikaremoana.
Neglected maintenance, banning visits by Conservation staff, and the wholesale destruction of huts gave the appearance that a colonial purge was ongoing.
Tribal control of the Urewera park was enabled by former Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson of the Key National government.
The Tuhoe tribe signed a $170-million treaty settlement on June 4, 2013, which vested the Urewera national park in a Te Urewera legal identity and protected it under new standalone legislation, governed by Tuhoe and Crown nominees. 3.
In his infinite wisdom, Finlayson set up a governance board with equal numbers of four Crown and four Tuhoe appointees and chaired by one of the Tuhoe appointees.
A Tuhoe chair gained the upper hand to Tuhoe from the start.
Worse was to come. After three years Tuhoe was intended to have six nominees on the board and the Crown three. That gave the appearance that Finlayson planned for Tuhoe to take over.
Why is this important now? “Co-governance” also known as tribal control is front and centre of the government’s agenda now.
The Ardern government is currently imposing the Three Waters reform, which, on closer inspection, is a substantial implementation of the secretive He Puapua plan for two racially divided governments in New Zealand.4
The Three Waters plan is nominally about improving water services throughout New Zealand but actually hinges on “co-governance” (tribal control).
Evidence for this was the speedy response by Waikato-Tainui chair Tuku Morgan when four mayors delivered an alternative proposal to Three Waters which left water assets in council ownership. Morgan was most concerned about power when he complained about “mayors not wanting to share power with Maoris". 5
Three Waters co-governance doesn’t pretend to be anything other than tribal control although the tribal control mechanism is buried in layers of documents and anyone who asks questions is smeared as a racist.
The entire Three Waters structure would be controlled from top to bottom by the chair of the Maori Advisory Committee that guides the water regulator Taumata Arowai, currently Tipa Mahuta, who is the sister of the current Minister in charge of Three Waters, Nanaia Mahuta. 6.
So when you think of Three Waters and co governance, remember Tuhoe’s colonial purge and be thankful that the High Court in this instance intervened.
1. High Court shuts down hut burning. Stuff, November 9, 2022. https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/130421014/high-court-shuts-down-hut-burning-across-te-urewera
2. Dozens of huts to be removed. Stuff, October 2, 2022. https://i.stuff.co.nz/environment/300705837/dozens-of-huts-to-be-removed-from-te-urewera-as-thoe-plan-bespoke-replacements
3. Tuhoe deed of settlement summary. https://www.govt.nz/browse/history-culture-and-heritage/treaty-settlements/find-a-treaty-settlement/ngai-tuhoe/ngai-tuhoe-deed-of-settlement-summary/
4. Thomas Cranmer, Three Waters and He Puapua, November 9, 2022. https://cranmer.substack.com/p/three-waters-and-he-puapua?
5. Our voice must be heard. Newshub, November 2, 2022. https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/our-voice-must-be-heard-tribal-leaders-slam-mayors-three-waters-replacement-plan/ar-AA13DNjy?ocid=winp0dash&pc=WSPWWU&cvid=179f44b6fdc44c30bb8fc263a5fc3870&fbclid=IwAR0JGzBjDdryYmmsP3vb983kfOhq4SBxG3bS3vNQ7qCXkH03NIQGM-Yz0C0
6. Graham Adams, Sister Act, The Platform, June 10, 2022. https://theplatform.kiwi/opinions/sister-act-just-how-powerful-will-tipa-mahuta-be