Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 29/5/27

Performer of a karakia in Parliament was not miffed by being muzzled – but Waititi demands reprimand

Six ministers have posted announcements on the government’s official website in the past 24 hours, two of them contributing to one media statement in the matter of the decision to support the Papua New Guinea response to the devastating landslide in Enga Province.

Three statements dealt with the passage of legislation, one dealing with immigration matters (the management of mass arrivals), another with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund’s investment opportunities, and the third to settle the Whakatōhea treaty claim.

Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee announced the Government is consulting New Zealanders on a package of proposals for the regulation of shooting clubs and ranges.

Latest from the Beehive

29 MAY 2024

The Government has strengthened settings for managing a mass arrival, with the passing of the Immigration (Mass Arrivals) Amendment Bill today.

28 MAY 2024

Finance Minister Nicola Willis has welcomed the passage of legislation giving the New Zealand Superannuation Fund a wider range of investment opportunities.

Three decades of negotiations between iwi and the Crown have been settled today as the Whakatōhea Claims Settlement Bill passes its third reading in Parliament.

New Zealand will support Papua New Guinea’s response to the devastating landslide in Enga Province, Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Judith Collins have announced.

The Government is consulting New Zealanders on a package of proposals for simple and effective regulation of shooting clubs and ranges.

In the upshot, thanks to the antics of frisky Māori Party leaders, it was the treaty settlement bill that perhaps generated the greatest fuss.

According to the media statement from Treaty Negotiations Minister Paul Goldsmith, three decades of negotiations between iwi and the Crown were settled when the Whakatōhea Claims Settlement Bill passed its third reading in Parliament.

Whakatōhea is an iwi based in the Bay of Plenty and its six hapū include Ngāi Tamahaua, Ngāti Ira, Ngāti Ngahere, Ngāti Patumoana, Ngāti Ruatākenga and Te Ūpokorehe.

Whakatōhea descendants representing approximately 16,000 members came to Parliament to witness this momentous occasion. And (as things turned out) to become embroiled in political wrangling.

The settlement includes the reservation of 5,000 hectares of marine space for aquaculture, $100-million financial, cultural, and commercial redress, the transfer of 33 sites of cultural significance, bespoke natural resource and conservation arrangements, and relationship agreements with core Crown agencies.

“The historical grievances of Te Whakatōhea against the Crown include the unjustifiable invasion, occupation and raupatu of their tribal area, the use of scorched earth policies and the failure to act in good faith in its treatment and execution of their tipuna Mokomoko.

“The historical grievances caused the break-down of their tribal structures, their language and tikanga, it also caused the stigmatisation of the Mokomoko whānau and descendants.

“This final step marks the beginning of a new era of the relationship with the Crown based on trust and co-operation.”

But whoa.

What about the procedural how’s-your-father in the House of Representatives?

RNZ reported what happened under the headline Parliament’s Speaker refuses to apologise after accusations of broken tikanga.

After the Whakatōhea Claims Settlement Bill passed its third reading with the support of all parties, supporters of the bill in the public gallery rose to perform a waiata in celebration – a waiata they had permission to perform.

However, the waiata was prefaced with a karakia that was allowed to proceed for 20 seconds before being interrupted by assistant speaker Maureen Pugh, who called for order.

“Excuse me, can I call for order in the gallery please. Order in the gallery. Order in the gallery. There is permission for a waiata – the gallery is not the space for speeches,” she said, as the performers continued then began singing.

After the waiata, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi rose to his feet with a point of order and said he found it “extremely insulting that one of our rangatira was cut off, which is part of the protocol of the waiata today”.

He called for an apology from the assistant speaker, saying he was insulted – with his co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer offering support.

Green MP Steve Abel also stood and offered his support, saying the purpose of the settlements was to acknowledge the wrongs of the Crown.

RNZ records the wrangling that followed before the Speaker, Gerry Brownlee, entered the debating chamber and told the House the argument had been heard from both sides.

“My job is to protect the tikanga of this Parliament – this Parliament,” he said.

“It is the Parliament of all people in New Zealand and there is no intention to offend anybody in the upholding of its own tikanga, and tikanga does not allow for speeches from the gallery, it never has.

“On that basis we will now proceed and those who do not want to accept that, well, unfortunately no change can be made.”

The performer of the karakia, Te Kahautu Maxwell, told reporters afterwards the event would not put a dampener on what had been achieved with the legislation and accepted there had been a misunderstanding of tikanga.

“The main thing is that the whakatōhea’s settled,” he said.

“All I wanted to do on behalf of the tribe was to acknowledge the kind words that were conveyed and to thank each member of the Parliament for their support in assisting te whakatōhea to get to where we landed today after 159 years since the confiscation of our land and 184 years since the signing of the Treaty.

“I wasn’t surprised, however, we as Te Whakatōhea we’ve been through, we’ve faced much larger challenges than that. So it doesn’t take away from the third reading of the Whakatōhea Settlement Bill in Parliament.”

Former National Party Minister Tuariki Delamere, who is Whakatōhea, said he was saddened at the consequences of “a misunderstanding of the marriage between tikanga and the kaupapa of the House…”

The previous speaker of the house, Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe, said he would not have intervened as Pugh did, but acknowledged that “I understood what they were saying and why they were doing it” .

“The speaker made a ruling against someone in the gallery speaking, so they’re standing orders that she applied. If you speak to the people from Whakatōhea, they’ll tell you that that was actually part of the waiata and so it’s clear there is a conflict between the tikanga of the House and the tikanga of Whakatōhea, which is really unfortunate on the day that we pass a piece of legislation.”

But Waititi was in no mood to be conciliatory (come to think of it, is he ever in such a mood?)

He said Pugh was incompetent and should be reprimanded.

“She is incompetent because she has no cultural backing, she has no cultural training, obviously.”

Here at Point of Order, we concede shortcomings in the cultural understanding department, too, because Waititi’s next utterance calls for a bit more explanation than he provided:

“There are karanga that go out in that building. Karanga and whaikōrero go hand in hand, so if you allow for karanga you should allow for whaikōrero, allow for the waiata.”

He went on:

“This is a rangatira that they cut short, this is the spokesperson of Te Whakatōhea – and to have him belittled and ridiculed in front of the gallery, in front of his own people by the Crown – they continue to breach the partnership and the goodwill that te tiriti was supposed to be.

“All she had to do was say ‘I apologise’.”

This is at odds with Te Kahautu Maxwell saying he accepted there had been a misunderstanding of tikanga.

But this wasn’t the only rancorous reaction to the settlement.

Scoop reports:

Hapu Condemn “Legislative Ram Raid” To Pass Whakatohea Treaty Settlement Bill

This statement says Ngai Tamahaua Hapu’s Waitangi Tribunal and Marine and Coastal Area claimants had come together to condemn the Government’s move to pass the “controversial” Whakatohea Claims Settlement Bill through the two remaining stages in Parliament.

Ngai Tamahaua is one of the six Hapu of Te Whakatohea.

Their spokesman should swap nots with Waititi about the art of disseminating invective:

“Only one out of the six Hapu of our Iwi has ever fully supported this poisonous settlement deal and three are outright against,” says Ngai Tamahaua’s Marine and Coastal Area claimant, Tim Herewini.

“The Wellington machine threw millions of dollars at this kupapa gang from the Whakatohea Maori Trust Board to get a quick and dirty deal. After years of grinding us down they still couldn’t get near the 75% norm of constitutional credibility so now say a 67% vote on a 35% turnout – half from the internet – is going to suffice. Vladimir Putin would blush at this state strong-arming of one side only providing information in the voting packs, secret voter rolls, no scrutineers allowed and online voting. The statute would have no validity,” said Mr Herewini.

“A legislative ram raid today to get this sordid, basement-level deal through the House is an unconscionable injustice and a shame on the parties that support it. It is worse than the deal rightly rejected in the 1990s, yet here we are staring at a bleak future: rights curtailed or extinguished, and an unaccountable corporate entity to undermine the Hapu. This is what colonisation looks like – the baddies win.”

The statement notes that the Waitangi Tribunal is currently in the middle of an inquiry into the Eastern Bay of Plenty/Whakatohea historic claims and is yet to make findings or recommendations.

The bill that has passed its third reader would allow the Tribunal to continue but would bar recommendations.

Tracy Hillier, Ngai Tamahaua Wai 1781 claimant, says:

“I can’t believe our legal rights to fair redress for the colonial military invasion and land confiscation for which we have struggled over decades could be gone by teatime.”

“The select committee have failed to appreciate how wrong the process has been and how flawed the deal is. The rush to ram this law through two sets of readings on the anniversary of our Treaty signing in Opotiki (27 and 28 May 1840) is an insult. The Hapu have not consented to the settlement deed or the bill. We will be seeking further legal advice on our options,” said Ms Hillier.

The issue of kaupapa, tikanga and parliament’s standing orders was being revisited when the House sat this afternoon.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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