Friday, May 24, 2024

Mike Butler: Treaty settlements – let’s be honest

Let’s be honest about treaty settlements for a few minutes.

The table attached shows that around $4.6-billion has been largely paid in financial redress for alleged breaches of the treaty by the Crown all the way back to 1840 and the Maori Party, rebranded as Te Pati Maori, looks angrier than ever.

That raises the question whether anything has actually been settled.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer was the person who thought investigating grievances back to 1840 was a good idea so, as Justice Minister, had the law change to do just that. That was in 1985.

He declared that there may be a bit of grumbling and it may take a decade to get through but at the end of the day we would all be better off, or words to that effect.

In 2016, as part of an audience in Hastings where Sir Geoffrey was promoting his treaty constitution book, I put it to him that he said it would take 10 years and here we are, 30 years later, and it is still going on.

His retort, in his big booming voice, was along the lines of “aren’t we a great little country that has the courage to face up to the sins of our past”.

If you look at the table below, you can see two tribal groups, Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu, have on-going settlements. Why would that be?

The answer goes back to another politician, another Sir, this time Sir Douglas Graham, who went along with “the bright idea” that since these groups are settling early, and because of inflation, and since those groups that settled later would get more money, a percentage cut of those later settlements would be a sufficient sweetener to get these two big early settlers over the line.

Courtesy of that bright idea, both Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu had initial settlements of $170-million, but the ongoing “relativity payments” are so far more than double the initial payment and there are further negotiated payments resulting from disputed amounts.

Substantial public grumbling prompted the National Government that Sir Douglas was Justice Minister of to state that total settlement payments would be no more than $1-billion.

That prompted further substantial grumbling, this time from tribal treaty settlement stakeholders, and the government went along with a no-limit credit card approach with the $1-billion figure remaining as the trigger for the ongoing payments for the big two early settlers.

As you can see from the table, the $1-billion trigger was pulled in 2012.

Anyway, what are the grievances that these massive settlements are supposed to be settling?

Ngai Tahu is the South Island tribe, their numbers being so few in 1840 that some thought it was uninhabited.

People associated with Ngai Tahu (or Kai Tahu as they call themselves) sold most of the South Island in 10 deals over 20 years.

If you read the Waitangi Tribunal’s Ngai Tahu Report 1991, the Ngai Tahu actual grievance is that they want more money and their entire history since 1840 has been one of pestering successive governments to achieve that goal.

How about Waikato-Tainui; what was their grievance?

The Waikato-Tainui grievance is that they were defeated in armed conflict in 1864 after a series of battles drove them back into the Maori King Country.

Successive Maori king movement leaders never gave up on the goal of being the King of New Zealand and it looks like the current Maori king has the same goal.

Waikato-Tainui had substantial areas of land confiscated as a consequence of their rebellion in 1860.

This was not a treaty breach. This was a consequence of losing in armed conflict.

At that time land confiscation was the undisputed right of a conqueror and was a key element of Maori tikanga.

A new book titled Who really broke the treaty? revises the history that the Waitangi Tribunal has spent so much time and money revising and has brought us back to basics.

And those basics are that successive governments while they didn’t always make the best decisions actually never broke the treaty. The treaty breaches are all on the other side.

So, if there are no breaches, what is the compensation being paid for?

Another new book titled The British Empire – a force for good notes that a key element of decolonisation in African countries is looting by a strong man who has seized power.

So, here’s a question.

If the Crown never breached the treaty, and since there is a strong push for decolonisation here, are the treaty settlements a form of state-sanctioned under-the-radar looting?


Anonymous said...

Have ordinary NZers - who are meekly accepting all this - lost their marbles?

Robert Arthur said...

One hears remarkably little from Palmer who always had so much to say. Presumably business conflict of interests are very limiting. Such persons are feted by aristocratic maori and shielded from the plebs and others likely to speak frankly and disclose the inherent "hoatu he koromatua tango te wae wae" instinct. To the likes of Palmer fawning maori are more tolerable than the crudely blunt plebs who they seldom or nver meet.
Te Rauparaha did Ngai Tahu a favour when he near exterminated them, thereby hugely increasing the subsequent spoils per person.

Doug Longmire said...

It is way overdue for the Crown to sue Maori tribes for their multiple breaches of the Treaty. This is described in detail in John Robinson's book "Who Really Broke the Treaty"

Peter said...

Well, Mike, some were probably quite legitimate, but a lot pushed the boundaries and are anything but founded on the underlying principle of "utmost good faith."

But what is a great deal more concerning is that, despite everything that has been done and the $billions that have now been paid out, we have the likes of National's MP, Tama Potaka, stating in a recent televised interview regarding Treaty settlement obligations, that still "there are over 10,000 of those outstanding".

Let that sink in. Over TEN THOUSAND in the pipeline and STILL TO BE SETTLED!

There will never be an end to the Treaty gravy train until we are all, but the Maori elite and, of course, some lawyers, BANKRUPT! And it's by no means a mystery why some in our legal profession are so keen to introduce the likes of tikanga into our law to assist those outstanding claims.


Anonymous said...

Why is this informationnot mainstream?

Barrie Davis said...

"If the Crown never breached the treaty, and since there is a strong push for decolonisation here, are the treaty settlements a form of state-sanctioned under-the-radar looting?"

We now have tikanga as part of our law. Muru is an element of tikanga which means 'plunder for an offence'. So if the Maoris can think of an offence, they are entitled to help themselves. I expect they are offended by lots of things.
We are in for a rough ride to South Africa.

Anonymous said...

Minister Goldsmith, National, is in charge of these related portfolios:

Waitangi Tribunal
Treaty settlements
MACA law amendment ( proposed by NZF)
Broadcasting: Media (MSM).

What action is he taking on any of these?

Anonymous said...

Government’s honesty, truth and justice disappeared 50 years ago, when the 1975 TOW Act was enacted on a Lie and a Fraud.

The STATE won’t/can’t let honesty, truth and justice back in, so the Big Lie perpetuates.

Nick said...

I see Moriori were paid 18m in 2021. Perhaps this is justified. Has there ever been discussion on Moriori land dispossession by Māori? Past injustices for whatever reason should be set aside and we should walk forward as one united people. Let’s leave the destructive greed behind and together work to take New Zealand forward.