On Friday, Stuff reported that Waikato-Tainui Treaty had just received a further $101.5-million relativity payment and declared that the payment takes the total the iwi has gained including its original $170 million in 1995 to $390 million. (2)
The Stuff report didn’t mention the latest relativity payment of $96.5m to South Island tribe Ngai Tahu which is also entitled to top-ups. (3) It also missed a number of payments to Waikato-Tainui. A more complete list of post-1995 treaty settlement payments to Waikato-Tainui shows:
$170m in 1995,That means Waikato’s total is more like $680.95-million. An identical number of top-ups and arbitration payments means that Ngai Tahu’s total is around $617.7-million (they didn’t have a river confiscation settlement).
first relativity top-up of $70m in 2012,
first relativity arbitration claim payment of $12.5m in 2014,
second relativity top-up of $190m in 2017,
second relativity arbitration claim payment of $18m in 2018,
third relativity top-up of $16.6m in 2018,
third relativity arbitration payment of $0.095m in 2019,
fourth relativity top-up of $101.5m in 2022.
forestry rentals of $0.25m in 1997
$102m for the Waikato River confiscation settlement in 2010.
In a statement on December 16, 2022, Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little outlined the payments and said that they were made “following their requests for payment”. The list above shows that these two tribes are in the habit of asking for more once they receive a payment.
While the Waikato-Tainui settlement was being negotiated in the early 1990s, the relativity payments were pushed by the tribe’s then principal negotiator, the late Sir Robert Mahuta.
Born an Ormsby but changing his name to that of the tribe of the Maori “king”, Mahuta fathered Nanaia Mahuta (who as Local Government Minister created the Three Waters empire), and Tipa Mahuta (who pulls the levers of tribal control of that empire).
What entitles Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu to top-ups?
The Waikato-Tainui 1995 settlement was negotiated while the National Government under Jim Bolger tried to allay public concerns through the “fiscal envelope” concept which said total treaty settlements would cost at most $1-billion.
Predictably, tribal leaders kicked up a fuss so the idea was dropped by all except negotiator Robert Mahuta, who pushed for the current relativity mechanism by arguing that he was doing the Government a favour by settling early, thereby leading the way for other tribes.
Based on the premise that if the total amount was $1-billion in 1994, and if his tribe was getting $170-million at that time, his argument was that since this was 17 percent of $1-billion, if his tribe got 17 percent of everything over $1-billion in 1994 dollars his tribe would maintain a 17 percent share of the total whatever that would be.
Ngai Tahu got a smaller relativity percentage of 16.1 percent because they settled a little later, in 1998, but they were helping lead the way.
The Government negotiator, Sir Douglas Graham, apparently didn’t cotton on to the fact that he was signing up to 17 percent of a fund which could be infinite.
Both tribes feel the need to justify receiving these mega payments.
Waikato-Tainui chair Tukoroirangi Morgan said the extra $101-million is a small price to pay for the massive land loss and deaths caused by the land wars of the 1860s.
Waikato tribes fought against the government in the 1860s. Loss of life was one consequence. Land confiscation was another consequence, enabled by two Acts of Parliament in 1863, the the Suppression of Rebellion Act and the New Zealand Settlements Act.
For the record, in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty area a total of 619 rebel Maori and 192 British troops, colonists, and pro-government Maori were killed.
Waikato-Tainui had more than 1.2-million acres of land confiscated as a consequence. Of this, 312,564 acres were returned or paid for and 889,606 acres remained confiscated.
Morgan also argued that $170-million was still only about 0.3% of the assets Waikato-Tainui lost during the wars of the 1860s, including “some of this country’s most fertile lands”.
He still goes with the $170-million and $101-million figures, not the $681-million probable total, and is conflating the value of developed land in 2022 with undeveloped land in 1840 without any infrastructure.
I found no specific current justification from Ngai Tahu, although they have frequently used the “any compensation is only a fraction of what we lost” argument that includes the same logical flaw as Morgan’s argument.
Since Waikato chief Potatau Te Wherowhero didn’t sign the Treaty of Waitangi, a legitimate question is how and why does Waikato-Tainui qualify for a treaty settlement.
Everyone seems to have forgotten the inconvenient fact that Waikato-Tainui had a settlement in 1946, which included the words “full and final”, in the form of the Waikato-Maniapoto Maori Claims Settlement Act.
This set up the Tainui Maori Trust Board to receive £5000 a year in perpetuity, plus a further £5000 and £1000 a year for 45 years. Payments under this set-up are still going on.
Ngai Tahu also received a full and final settlement. This was the Ngaitahu Claim Settlement Act 1944.
Ngai Tahu had no land wars and no confiscations. Instead, a number of individuals who claimed to represent the Ngai Tahu scattering of Maoris who occupied the South Island at that time sold most of the South Island in 10 deals over 20 years from 1844 for a total of £14,750.
A complaint over the alleged inadequacy of reserves of a sale in 1848 led to settlements in 1868, 1906, 1973, the Ngaitahu Claim Settlement Act 1944 mentioned above, the 1997 $170-million settlement, plus four top-ups.
Seven Ngai Tahu chiefs did sign the treaty in 1840 so would be entitled to compensation for treaty breaches if there had been such breaches. But the ongoing compensations and top-ups is evidence that what ever grievance there was in the beginning it has well and truly been compensated.
So, what is really going on? In 1862, a perceptive missionary named Samuel Ironside observed:
The natives had found out that by assuming a threatening attitude they could obtain any exorbitant demands. (4)As the threats and exorbitant demands continue, the question is whether the Crown is honourably compensating for past errors made by the Crown, or whether tribal grievances amount to an extortion racket and officials appointed to respond are too weak and naïve to see through it.
1. Treaty Transparency https://www.nzcpr.com/treaty-transparency-settlements-1989-to-2013-revised-and-updated/
2.Latest Waikato-Tainui treaty settlement payment https://i.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/130785206/latest-waikatotainui-treaty-settlement-payment-takes-iwi-total-to-390-million?fbclid=IwAR2c87stlGtm2Yw3I9eYLGiAlK3NhPOBtGBrzlaqVASIfGVNaQ_9q_sQIMM
3.Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu receive relativity payments. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/kahu/waikato-tainui-and-ngai-tahu-receive-treaty-relativity-payments/CQIFKVZ3QJEJHM5ZUOLYYTT7W4/
4. Taranaki Herald, Volume XVII, Issue 926, 23 October 1869, Page 5