Improved Government-Māori relationship, Treaty is ‘a permanent and morally irrevocable relationship’

Protests (and crowds) were down at Waitangi this year, but the relationship between Māori and the Government seems improved. Discussing things better is a positive, but doing things better has to get more impetus.

Sam Sachdevaa (Newsroom): Patience, positivity on display for Ardern’s Waitangi visit

Patience will eventually wear out unless posit9ve communications doesn’t lead to positive actions.

…Ardern and company have succeeded in convincing Māori that while they may not have all the answers to the problems they face, they are willing to have a real discussion about how to find them.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little is the most obvious example of that, winning yet more praise (this time from Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene) for his whaikorero in te reo Māori and wider efforts to better understand the issues facing Ngapuhi in their settlement talks.

The Iwi Chairs Forum also failed to produce any public flashpoints, with Ardern saying there was “real common ground” between iwi and the Crown in a number of areas.

Given the talks took place behind closed doors, it was hard to test that, although Te Rarawa iwi leader Haami Piripi told RNZ the hui was “was one of the best meetings that we have had yet between ourselves and the Government”.

Of course, there are many justified criticisms of this government, including a number of significant issues for Māori that may be difficult to resolve.

A media statement from the Iwi Chairs Forum after their meeting emphasised the need to address the rights and interests of iwi, hapū and whānau in freshwater, Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group chair Rukumoana Schaafhausen saying: “Nō tātau te wai – we own the water.”

Then there is the funding (or lack thereof) for Whānau Ora, with Ardern and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare meeting five Māori women leaders in Wellington next week to discuss their Waitangi Tribunal claim over the issue.

And Ihumatao continues to loom over the Government, Ardern’s hopes of a resolution before Waitangi Day dashed with more work to be done.

It appears that Winston Peters did the dashing, and may stand in the way of a resolution for Ihumatao before the election.

Simon Bridges didn’t do so well with his communications at Waitangi.

Barracked by speakers at the powhiri for an overly political speech, Bridges was then put under pressure from media over National’s stance on the Māori seats.

His absence at both the opening of Te Rau Aroha (the new museum honouring Māori servicemen and servicewomen) and the Waitangi dawn service was noted by some.

Bridges appeared unrepentant: speaking to some of his MPs after the powhiri, he was heard to exclaim, “And I’d do it again for the TV cameras” (it was not clear exactly what “it” was).

He seemed intent on trying to attract voter support for National, and there’s not going to be much of that from Māori.

Given National’s worst party vote performances last election came in the seven Māori seats, he seems to be calculating it is better to create wedge issues rather than making a doomed attempt to win voters who are unlikely to ever support him.

The problem with wedge politics is that while it may attract some voters (who Bridges and Peters appeared to be fighting over), but it can put others off. And I think there’s likely to be more moderate voters, and they can be crucial to getting a good election result.

But more quietly some in National seem to have an understanding of dealing with Māori issues.

Where there is some agreement between Labour and National, and between politicians and Māori, is that the Crown’s relationship with Māori cannot be solved simply through the transfer of land and other assets.

“This is not a partnership where there’s a commercial agreement, this is not a partnership to say, ‘Hey, look, let’s try and work things out together, let’s just go to court, it’s judicial’,” National MP Alfred Ngaro said.

“When you talk about kawenata [covenant] and what they signed up to when they heard that word, that means that goes deep. That’s a blood relationship, but we don’t treat it that way.”

The words seemed strikingly similar to Little’s description of talks with Ngāpuhi: “They don’t see if and when we do get to an agreement, that’s not the end of a process – it’s a restoration of the relationship.”

That common understanding is a start – but the gaps between the two major parties, and between the Crown and Māori, will still require much more effort to be bridged.

From the Māori Dictionary:


1. (loan) (noun) covenant, testament, charter, contract, agreement, treaty – any undertaking that binds the parties in a permanent and morally irrevocable relationship.

So a treaty – and specifically Te Tiriti o Waitangi – is not an undertaking that, once settled, is done with. It is an ongoing relationship, forever.

Understanding that is important. It means there can be no ‘full and final settlement’. Discussions and resolutions need to continue.

Understanding the Treaty of Waitangi 101

Hinemoa Elder: We should all be familiar with the Treaty of Waitangi, here’s a 101

Much has been made of knowledge of the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. How many of us can recite the preamble and all the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi? I’m thinking not many, if any. How many can recall these in Te Reo Māori, and English, and talk about the differences in interpretation and the inherent cultural clashes?

To manifest a rigorous and mature capacity for fostering a strong, healthy, national identity we need to fully embrace these foundational aspects of our history. The critical thing for me is that, yes it is necessary – but not sufficient – to know the wording of each part of our Treaty.

I don’t think it is necessary to be able to recite the Treaty word for word, but understanding it better is worthwhile.

Treaty of Waitangi – Preamble

English version – British intentions were to:

  • Protect Māori interests from the encroaching British settlement;
  • Provide for British settlement; and
  • Establish a government to maintain peace and order.

Māori version – the Queen’s main promises to Māori were to:

  • Provide a government while securing tribal rangatiratanga and Māori land ownership for as long as they wished to retain it.

Te Tuatahi, article one

Ko nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa hoki ki hai i uru ki taua wakaminenga ka tuku rawa atu ki te Kuini o Ingarani ake tonu atu – te Kawanatanga katoa o o ratou wenua.

The chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess over their respective Territories as the sole sovereigns thereof.

Kawanatanga – Article 1 provides for the Government to govern, though not in isolation from other provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi. The right to govern is qualified by an obligation to protect Māori interests. This aspect of the agreement is further established within the other articles of the Treaty.

Te Tuarua, article two:  

Ko te Kuini o Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangitira ki nga hapu – ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa. Otiia ko nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa atu ka tuku ki te Kuini te hokonga o era wahi wenua e pai ai te tangata nona te Wenua – ki te ritenga o te utu e wakaritea ai e ratou ko te kai hoko e meatia nei e te Kuini hei kai hoko mona.

Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates forests fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of preemption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.

Tino Rangatiratanga – Article 2 provides for iwi to exercise authority in respect of their own affairs. To some extent, tino rangatiratanga denoted the prerogatives of iwi/hapu in controlling their own affairs including their physical, social cultural resources, within a tribal development context. A characteristic of tino rangatiratanga is iwi autonomy.

Te Tuatoru, article three:  

Hei wakaritenga mai hoki tenei mo te wakaaetanga ki te Kawanatanga o te Kuini – Ka tiakina e te Kuini o Ingarani nga tangata maori katoa o Nu Tirani ka tukua ki a ratou nga tikanga katoa rite tahi ki ana mea ki nga tangata o Ingarani.

In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.

Oritetanga – Article 3 contains a provision which guarantees equality between Māori individuals and other New Zealanders. As long as socio-economic disparities remain, the provision is not fulfilled.

Additional source: Introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi

More on Te Tiriti o Waitangi

A comment on Korero about Te Tiriti o Waitangi is worth a separate post, from TMG:

We may never know exactly what rangatira might have thought about kawana and what the attributes of kawanatanga might have meant in practice, but since rangatiratanga and kawanatanga were carried over from He Whakaputanga (the Maori text of the Declaration of Independence) we have a very good idea as to how the terms relate to each other by examining how they are used in the first two articles of that document.

I have enclosed the relevant key words in [brackets].

Article First

Ko matou, ko nga Tino Rangatira o nga iwi o Nu Tireni i raro mai o Hauraki kua oti nei te huihui i Waitangi i Tokerau i te ra 28 o Oketopa 1835, ka wakaputa i te [Rangatiratanga] o to matou wenua a ka meatia ka wakaputaia e matou he Wenua Rangatira, kia huaina, Ko te Wakaminenga o nga Hapu o Nu Tireni.

We, the hereditary chiefs and heads of the tribes of the Northern parts of New Zealand, being assembled at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands on this 28th day of October, 1835, declare the [Independence] of our country, which is hereby constituted and declared to be an Independent State, under the designation of the United Tribes of New Zealand.

Article Second

Ko te [Kingitanga] ko te [mana] i te wenua o te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni ka meatia nei kei nga Tino Rangatira anake i to matou huihuinga, a ka mea hoki e kore e tukua e matou te wakarite ture ki te tahi hunga ke atu, me te tahi [Kawanatanga] hoki kia meatia i te wenua o te wakawakarite ana ki te ritenga o o matou ture e meatia nei matou i to matou huihuinga.

All [sovereign power] and [authority] within the territories of the United Tribes of New Zealand is hereby declared to reside entirely and exclusively in the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes in their collective capacity, who also declare that they will not permit any legislative authority separate from themselves in their collective capacity to exist, nor any [function of government] to be exercised within the said territories, unless by persons appointed by them, and acting under the authority of laws regularly enacted by them in Congress assembled.

Conclusion: However “function of government” may have been understood, it is undeniably a delegated authority, and a delegated authority is by definition a lesser form of control. Article second is absolutely clear about where sovereign power and authority reside in relation to this delegated authority.

In view of these relative meanings, the ‘confusion’ over the inherent contradiction between the first and second article of Te Tiriti which exists when it is read in relation to the corresponding English text treaty disappears when read in relation to He Whakaputanga. By the first article of Te Tiriti, the chiefs’ delegate some authority to the Crown, while retaining political independence and authority by the second article.

Te Tiriti does not cede sovereignty to the Crown; it reaffirms the original declaration of independent sovereign status and authority held by the chiefs and is effectively an extension of the provision of article two of He Whakaputanga in the exercise of public power.


Treaty and Maori sovereignty

In a followup to yesterday’s post Korero about Te Tiriti o Waitangi here is a guest post on the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori sovereignty from Dr Scott Hamilton.

Alan Wilkinson claims that ‘It is perfectly clear that the Maori signing the Treaty knew and accepted that they would have to obey British law from that time on.’

As someone who has spent too much time in musty rooms reading nineteenth century documents, I want to ask whether Alan’s confidence in his interpretation of the intentions of the men who signed the Treaty might be misplaced.

Anyone who has studied the behaviour of the British Empire in the nineteenth century ought to be able to appreciate the difficulty of the idea that the British were very interested in imposing their laws and institutions on a small and strategically unimportant colony at the bottom of the world inhabited by a well-armed indigenous people. The British were masters of indirect rule. Even in India, the jewel in their colonial crown, they often ruled by giving local factions a large degree of autonomy.

And anyone who has read about nineteenth century Maori society is also likely to be incredulous at the idea that the proud and tooled up rangatira of Nga Puhi and so many other iwi would surrender their mana to a handful of British bureaucrats who lacked much armed backup and had repeatedly promised them that the Treaty of Waitangi wouldn’t mean a surrender of sovereignty.

If Alan thinks that everyone accepted that the Treaty meant Maori had ceded sovereignty in the nineteenth century, and had agreed to follow British laws, and that it is only relatively recently that a new interpretation has developed, then he should jump on Papers Past or read Keith Sinclair’s classic book Origins of the Maori Wars, and look at what the leaders of the colonial governments of NZ were saying when they waged war against Maori in the 1860s.

Colonial Premiers like Alfred Domett, who presided over the invasion of the Waikato in 1863, absolutely despised the Treaty, and continually described it as an irrelevant document. They held this view because, according to the Maori who had set up the King Movement and other ‘rebellious’ organisations and also according to the colonial office in London, the Treaty really did allow for Maori to exercise legal authority within their rohe.

The British would hardly have inserted article 71 into the Constitution Act of 1852 if they believed that the Treaty was incompatible with Maori legal autonomy. Article 71 states quite clearly that Maori tribes may run their realms and make their own laws if the British governor or the colonial assembly agrees.

Vincent O’Malley has pointed out that in 1861, when Governor Gore Browne sided with the land-hungry settlers in the colonial assembly and prepared to start a war to suppress the de facto state the King Movement had established in the Waikato, his superiors in London rebuked him, and urged him to use article 71, and let the Kingites run their own affairs and make their own laws.

Like the American constitution, the Treaty is a document that inevitably means different things to different people at different times. It is up to us to decide what the Treaty means today.

But the question of what most Maori and the British Crown and settlers thought the Treaty meant in 1840 and for decades after is relatively easy to answer. We only have to look at what Maori and British and settlers did and said to see that they believed that the document did not extinguish all Maori sovereignty, and did not preclude the possibility of Maori making their own laws.

PS Let me just offer a link to something I wrote a couple of years back in response to Kitty’s claim that ‘Maori were not the first people here anyway’:

Korero about Te Tiriti o Waitangi


Morena Aotearoa. Let’s have a korero about Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

First off, can everyone please stop calling it the Treaty of Waitangi.That refers to an unsigned English translation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an agreement in Te Reo Māori which guarantees kawanatanga to the British and Tino Rangatiratanga to Māori.

Kawanatanga is a transliteration of governor taken from the reference to kawana in the Māori translation of the bible in reference to the Roman governors in place throughout the occupied territories of the Roman Empire. These roles were peace keeping more than anything.

At the time, the main thrust of the Māori request for intervention by the British was to provide policing over the lawless hordes of Pākehā who had settled in the North. Local Māori had become increasingly nervous about imposing Tikanga over the immigrants.

Tino Rangatiratanga refers to the absolute right of Māori to control their own affairs over their home territories, people, & resources.

Read together, Kawanatanga & Tino Rangatiratanga set up a dual governing arrangement with Māori & British responsible for their own people.

And this is how it operated for about a decade after the signing nationally, and for another 60-70 years in other parts of the country.

Te Rohe Pōtae, for instance, remained largely self governing until the late 19th, early 20th century.

This is useful, I’ve learnt something from it.

Self government and responsibility for one’s own people becomes tricky where and when extensive integration has occurred.

Under TToW, Māori never ceded sovereignty. This is not an opinion but a matter of law as determined by the Waitangi Tribunal.

But while Māori sovereignty remains intact, the practice of sovereignty has been usurped by the Crown primarily through occupation & force.

We are seeing Māori start to reclaim their sovereign practice through a range of activities that give expression to Tino Rangatiratanga.

And the more these progress, the more Pākehā NZ will have to become comfortable with models of dual sovereignty so common elsewhere.

And finally, the principles of the Treaty, as 1st laid down in the 1987 Lands Case, provide a good framework for the Māori-Crown relationship.

Principles such as partnership, consultation, active protection, the right to development, and so on form the basis of Crown engagement and provide a legal framework for assessing breaches of Te Tiriti by the Crown. Which is why the Waitangi Tribunal performs an important function in NZ society as the arbiter of that relationship and the adherence of both parties to Te Tiriti and its principles.

Hope you found some of that enlightening, and provides some ideas for reflection as we recognise today the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Certainly some ideas for reflection there.

Harawira’s conflicting Treaty of Waitangi and socialist ambitions

Hone Harawira seems to want his Mana party through his Ngapuhi tribe to leverage the Treaty of Waitangi to transform New Zealand’s constitution so Maori have some degree of absolute rule, with funding advantages from higher taxing of others, somehow in a more socialist society.

It’s hard to see how minority rule and preferential funding of one group can co-exist with socialism.

At the Waitangi Day events this year John Key tried to nudge along a treaty settlement with Ngapuhi, the local tribe and the largest in the country.

In a column in NZ Herald  Ngapuhi’s settlement role critical to future of Treaty Hone Harawira tries to claim far more – that the future constitution of New Zealand is dependent on Ngapuhi.

And as fate would have it, Ngapuhi’s place in the whole Treaty saga is about to come full circle for, just as Ngapuhi was the birthplace of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, so too does Ngapuhi provide the basis for our future understanding of Te Tiriti.

The Harawiras are well known Ngapuhi but are voices within a large tribe with a variety of opinions.

And other tribes around New Zealand would presumably value their own importance and input into the future of the Treaty and the constitution of New Zealand.

I don’t think our tupuna signed Te Tiriti in 1840 so “full and final” settlement would be reached in 2014 or that Te Tiriti becomes “null and void” when the settlement process is over, or that the promise of partnership raised is ended at the signing of a settlement.

And that’s why Ngapuhi’s role is so critical to the future of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

While some would like the Treaty to be null and void there is wide support for the Treaty remaining as important once the settlements are complete.

I pray that the leadership of Ngapuhi is bold enough to step away from the mandate, to defer negotiations until the hearings are over, to create space for Tuhoronuku and Kotahitanga to settle the terms of a structure that can act in the best interests of all descendants of Ngapuhi, and to lead the national debate about the proper future of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

For all its chequered past, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is rightfully regarded as the founding document of this nation.

And will remain so after the settlements. But it seems that Harawira wants to use the Ngapuhi settlement negotiations to be used to leverage wider constitutional goals.

The timing is right for Ngapuhi to step up to the challenge of ensuring Te Tiriti becomes a central plank in the constitutional transformation of Aotearoa, and the opportunity that it presents to redefine the future for its own descendants.

It will be difficult enough getting agreement within Ngapuhi. And other tribes of New Zealand will presumably want to have their own input into our country’s future. As will the rest of New Zealanders.

What sort of constitutional transformation of Aotearoa does Harawira have in mind? His politics and his party give us an idea of that. It’s not just a party, it is promoted as the Mana Movement – “MANA, a Movement truly of the People”. Which people?

The Mana Kaupapa/Vision is generally vague but gives us some idea.

“MANA is born from a need/ or desire to be a truly independent Maori voice in parliament.”

MANA also speaks to the pride and dignity of workers who built this country into the special place that we all call home.

Mana does not represent “the people”. Harawira represents the Te Tai Tokerau electorate which is in the Ngapuhi north.

In the 2011 election in Te Tai Tokerau Mana got 4,844 votes (24.49%) compared to Labour with 6,855 (34.65%) and the Maori Party with 2,208 (11.16%), NZ First 1,950 (9.86%), National 1,814 (9.17%) and Greens 1,704 (8.81%) in a typically low Maori electorate turnout of 19,782. Most general electorates get a 30,000+ turnout.

Ngapuhi stretches down to Tāmaki Makaurau in Auckland (where Pita Sharples is the sitting MP). In 2011 Mana got 2,552 votes (13.68%) compared to Labour 7,739 (41.50%), Maori Party 2,694 (14.45%), NZ First 1,948 (10.45%), Green 1,810 (9.71%) and National 1,569 (8.41%).

In the Te Tai Tonga Maori electorate (covering the South Island and a large part of Wellington) Mana got 1,042 votes (5.92%).

  • In the overall 2011 party vote Mana got 24,168 (1.08%) compared to Maori Party with 31,982 (1.43%).
  • In the latest Roy Morgan poll Mana was on 1% (Maori 1.5%). Since the election Mana have twice peaked at 1.5% but are mostly on 0.5-1.0% (Maori 1.0-3.5%)
  • In last week’s 3 News/Reid Research poll Mana was on 0.3% (Maori 1.0%).
  • IPredict currently has Mana at 0.5% (Maori 1.3%).
  • Facebook Likes – 4,715

So even in Ngapuhi country Mana has been supported by less than a quarter of voters and it’s likely not all of them would totally support Harawira’s ambitions.

Mana constitutional aims

Part of Mana’s Treaty Settlements Policy is:

  • Begin a process to settle the way in which political and legal power is structured in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Settlement must include meaningful constitutional transformation.

Treaty of Waitangi

  • Give hapū and iwi decision making powers equal to government and local government in developing environmental policies relating to biodiversity, prospecting, the management of coastal areas and RMA plans so they can exercise kaitiakitanga over lands, coastal areas, and waterways.
  • Action Section 33 of the RMA which allows local authorities to hand over functions, powers and duties to iwi.
  • Resource hapū and iwi to carry out the above.

Livelihoods Policy priorities include:

  • Pursue measures to provide full employment (with full employment the unemployment benefit would not be needed).
  • Support changes to employment relations laws that give workers greater bargaining power to negotiate wages and conditions with their employers, and oppose changes that reduce the bargaining power of workers and unions.
  • Introduce a requirement for all State-Owned Enterprises and Māori corporate entities to prioritise the employment of New Zealand residents or face significant financial penalties.

Economic Justice:

  • Abolish GST
  • Significantly increase the tax take by introducing a tax on financial speculation, called the “Hone Heke tax” (chopping down GST and income tax), which will be designed using examples of similar taxes introduced overseas.  Initially it will be used to replace the annual $15 billion collected by GST.
  • Increase benefit incomes to a living income, including extending the in-work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents.
  • Abandon the market-based provision of essential services such as electricity and water in favour of non-profit and sustainable provision of those services.
  • Reduce the tax paid by low income earners by not taxing the first $27,000 earned and introduce a more progressive tax scale where the wealthy accept the responsibility to pay the largest share of the tax income.
  • Introduce a capital gains tax on all but the family home and Maori land.

Education Policy:

  • Support the principle of free state and community owned schools.  Cancel public private partnership contracts for schools.
  • Build schools into Taiao Hauora centres with free dental, healthcare, and social support.  This includes free breakfasts and lunches for all children.
  • Reduce and then end all tertiary education fees over time.  In the meantime, there should be no further interest on student loans.
  • Provide students with community-based jobs to help them complete their courses and reduce their debt.
  • Māori providers of tertiary education to be funded as a Treaty partnership responsibility of the Crown.

Seabed Mining

  • Ban fracking.
  • Cancel deep sea oil exploration and drilling.

Food sovereignty

  • Develop alternative food production, ownership and distribution methods to free New Zealanders from the clutches of international food companies and local supermarket chains.

Housing policy

  • Acknowledge the reality of homelessness in Aotearoa by making it a duty of Government to ensure every individual and family is housed, in secure, safe and affordable accommodation.
  • Build 20,000 more state houses within the next two years.
  • Maintain income related rents at no more than 25% of income for state, local government and community and iwi social housing.
  • Enabling genuine community ownership through democratically elected, accountable shareholder directors.
  • Establish the right of people to remain in or return to their home rohe without penalty from the state, and increase government support for rural districts.

Social Wellbeing

  • Work towards implementing a Universal Tax Credit/Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income after which progressive tax would kick in.
  • Extend the In Work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents.  This would immediately lift incomes for beneficiary families.

Many of the Mana aims and policies are laudable but some lean significantly towards to socialist side of the political spectrum.

There is also some strong socialist connections with the Mana Movement.

What is Socialist Aotearoa?

Socialist Aotearoa is an activist organisation of anti-capitalist workers and students. We are involved in the union movement as activists, delegates, and organisers. We support the Aotearoa is Not for Sale coalition against privatisation. We work with Global Peace and Justice Auckland against imperialism and war.

We are part of the MANA Movement.

Our members are involved in the student movement, environmental action, anti-austerity and human rights campaigns. We support people fighting imperialism from Palestine to West Papua. We support Tino Rangatiratanga and oppose all forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

We believe that struggles for justice and liberation should be guided by an anti-capitalist vision of the future. We fight for socialism from below.

Mana policies giving priority to Maori interests and Tino Rangatiratanga – the term’s closest English translation is ‘absolute sovereignty’, although many also refer to it as self-determination, autonomy, or Māori independence – seem at odds with socialist principles.

It’s worth looking back at Harawira’s closing remarks in his column.

The timing is right for Ngapuhi to step up to the challenge of ensuring Te Tiriti becomes a central plank in the constitutional transformation of Aotearoa, and the opportunity that it presents to redefine the future for its own descendants.

It would be interesting to get more detail from Harawira on what his central plank in the constitutional transformation of Aotearoa actually means.

He seems to be proposing a sort of socialism that gives overall power plus preferential treatment and funding to Maori descendants (funded by much higher taxing of the predominately non-Maori ‘rich’)  with Ngapuhi playing a leading role.

Is this the sort of country that the majority of Ngapuhi, Maori or all New Zealanders would want?

Honouring our ancestors, leading with our hearts

By Dr. Pita R Sharples

‘Intergenerational’ is a word you often hear roll from the lips of our tangata whenua leaders. We work hard to honour the labours of our ancestors, while also building on their vision for our future generations. Those of us here and now are a part of a bigger picture that spans many generations, and are working in what we view as a truly intergenerational whanau approach.

So when the Waitangi Tribunal came into focus this week, after comments made by the Prime Minister that seemed to dismiss the value of this institution, it hit a nerve. You see, the Waitangi Tribunal is more than a place where Maori can go to have their cases heard, it is a place where our people relive the mamae and pouritanga of the past, and ultimately seek to have that burden lifted from our shoulders.

The hearings are a place to hear the stories of colonisation, and how they have impacted on our whanau, hapu and iwi. Some stories are so painful that they rarely escape the lips of our pakeke. You also hear about the brave endeavours of our tupuna and their hard work to seek a simple concept – true honouring of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

When our tupuna have suffered you cannot help but be profoundly moved by the depth of the grief that lingers on. Their pain is our pain, their joy is our joy, so when you move through a process of grieving, of airing, and finally of lifting of the mamae – it is a powerful experience. So powerful that it can change the course of entire communities, and you need only look at post-settled iwi to see how that transformation occurs. What we seek in the hearings of the Tribunal is not about money, it is about relationships and respect, it is about acknowledgement of past wrongs, in the hope that we can move forward.

So when you diminish one of the primary mechanisms that allow our people to grieve and to heal, you are also diminishing the memory of our ancestors – and that hurts. That’s what being intergenerational means.

While much of the focus this week has been on the water claims, the sale of mixed ownership model companies and the Tribunal – the real question on my lips is ‘Why, after more than 150 years, are we still having to explain our connection to our lands, waters, language, culture and taonga?’

I think the problem here is much larger than this one case, in this one week. The issue is a wider misunderstanding of what tangata whenua are trying to achieve through Treaty claim processes. I also think that while we have come so far as a nation, there is still a lingering attitude towards Maori rights, consultation, and ultimately Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

This week has been hard on us, and the strength of emotion around our relationship to water, our right to have our grievances heard, and the legacy of our ancestors has put a heavy weight on our shoulders.

But we persevere because we know that we have a duty to the next generation to ensure that their load will be lighter than ours. Our focus should be on addressing the barriers that stand in the way of true partnership, meaningful relationships, and respect between our cultures.

That is why initiatives such as the constitutional review, cultural competency training and Whanau Ora are of critical importance. It is about an investment into building a better future for our next generation. It is also an investment into bridging relationships across Treaty partners. If there is anything that I hope that we can take away from this week, it is the knowledge that tangata whenua do have a deep connection with the taonga around us, that we do value the processes which allows us to grieve and to heal and, ultimately, that we are prepared to stand up for what sits in our heart.

Those of us in the Maori Party cannot divorce ourselves from our identity as tangata whenua. It is an intrinsic part of who we are and it will always be our hearts that guide our work and our voice in parliament.

Dr. Pita R Sharples is Co-Leader of the Maori Party and MP for Tamaki Makaurau

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