Morgan Godfery on King Tuheitia

December 7th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Morgan Godfery blogs at Maui Street:

It’s worth remembering that the Kingitanga is not an expression of power or sovereignty. The movement is an expression of and tool for unity. Tuheitia, however, appears to treat his office as if it’s a cheap imitation of the worst aspects European Royal Protocol. …

Guests are also encouraged to refer to Tuheitia as “your majesty”. Odd. I find it strange that royal protocols exist at all – Te Atairangikaahu did not keep a protocol guide. Hell, when she travelled the country she would stay at the homes of her friends and whanau. No hotels and chauffeurs, thank you very much. After all, the Kingitanga isn’t about reverance and mana does not extend to those people with less having to act towards you with veneration. 

Add to that a verbal incident that the Waikato Times reported in 2010. Apparently, in a meeting about Tania Martin and Te Kauhanganui, Tuheitia let rip against a kaumatua and Tame Iti’s sister. The King is reported to have asked the kaumatua whether he can “fucking read” and, when called on it, he told Iti if she doesn’t like it she can “fuck off”. Not the qualities you would expect of any leader, let alone the Maori King. 

Waikato-Tainui members are also asking whether this is part of a continuing campaign for more power and money. In January this year Tuheitia first voiced his desire to “take control of the tribe’s parliament” and Chris Webster reports that the Office of the King has received millions in tribal funding from 2009. Earlier this year Tuheitia penned a plea in the tribal magazine, Te Hookioi, for further funding. You have to ask whether the King’s latest reach for power, read the first and the most recent open letters, are part of a pattern.

Another cause for worry is the King’s cartel of advisors. The King maintains a large office, in comparison to his mother at least, including Rangi Wallace who admitted to beating his step-daughter and her mother, Helen Kotua. Further to that, Wallace also owed $250,000 to IRD in 2011 and Kotua owed Baycorp over $3000. Kotua, I should mention, is the author of the protocols above.  …

In one sense, the behaviour of the Maori King is simply a matter for Tainui. It is up to them. However the former Maori Queen was held in high regard by many New Zealanders and widely mourned when she died. It is a shame to see her successor act so differently.

I’m not a great fan of royalty and hereditary succession – for New Zealand, or elsewhere. However, it can work reasonably well when the monarch merely reigns rather than rules.

King Tuheitia obviously desires to rule Tainui, with his proposal that he be given the authority to both veto and dissolve the tribal parliament. Now that is a matter for Tainui, but I make the general point from history that monarchs who try to rule, not reign, generally end up serving themselves – not their people.

Tags: ,

The split in Tainui

September 25th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Meetings between two heavyweight Tainui leaders are under way to iron out internal tribal confusion around water ownership issues.

King Tuheitia’s spokesman Tuku Morgan is emphatic that all iwi leaders must stick to resolutions passed at the King’s water summit, which include working out a framework for water rights before iwi negotiate with the Crown.

Immediately after the hui this month, Mr Morgan said: “The A list of Maoridom were here, the who’s who of Maoridom were here – they are part of the decision and they are bound by the decision.”

But Tom Roa, who is chairman of the tribe’s executive board Te Arataura and on the Iwi Leaders Group for Freshwater, says the King’s “strong” position on water – that Maori own it – also reflected respect towards the individual right of iwi to go back to their people to weigh the resolutions.

“From my perspective … every iwi and every hapu has their right to their autonomy and that includes Waikato-Tainui.

“The New Zealand Maori Council will not negotiate on Waikato-Tainui’s behalf. Nor will any group. That’s our plain position and I suggest that’s the position of every iwi and hapu in the country.”

It is not unusual to have a different point of view between different Iwi. But this is a split between Tainui and their King. That is significant.

Line the two positions up and Mr Roa admits the sentiments are at odds.

“Yes. We’re having meetings to sort that through. Tuku is the spokesperson for the Kingitanga and I am the spokesperson for Waikato-Tainui,” he said.

Asked if there should be a unified position between the two, Mr Roa said: “Very clearly.”

Which is an admission, there isn’t.

What is not in doubt is that there has been a sharp evolution of the Kingitanga. In the past, spokesmen have been the voice of the movement – in part to protect the monarch from direct criticism.

King Tuheitia’s speech to 1000 Maori on such a charged issue changed that.

“In terms of Waikato-Tainui I would suggest that whatever the King says, whatever the King does, the people support,” Mr Roa said. “There is some concern for him, there is some concern for our relationships [in the tribe] and with other iwi and hapu but there is total support for the King.”

The Labour MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, the King’s cousin, said the move came with risks as exposure to criticism would come on any issues in the public domain.

“That is a matter for Tuheitia to weigh up as the media can be critical and sceptical of any perspective he may have. Tuheitia has his advisers and they must be accountable for the advice they give him.”

While expressed very politely, that statement by Nanaia is significant. She seems to be blaming Tuku Morgan for turning King Tuheitia into a political figure, rather than a unifying figure.

Tags: , , ,

Dom Post on water claim

September 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The exact date of Maori arrival in New Zealand is a mystery, although carbon dating and Maori oral tradition point to the 13th century. About one thing, however, there is no doubt. Contrary to the impression created by the bellicose posturing of the Maori king, Maori have not ”always owned the water”.

Scientists estimate New Zealand broke away from the Gondwana supercontinent about 85 million years ago. Give or take a few hundred millennia, that means Maori have inhabited the country for about 0.0009 per cent of the time it has existed as a distinct entity. Rain fell from the skies, coursed down the hills and found its way into rivers, streams and lakes for millions of years before Maori first hauled their canoes up onto beaches, and will continue to do so long after humanity has ceased to exist. Claiming ownership of the water is about as foolish as claiming ownership of the wind, the air or the stars.

Thank you.

That is not to say Maori do not have a spiritual and emotional connection to particular waterways and lakes. They do, as do many non-Maori. Nor is it to deny that Maori may have ”residual proprietary” interests in particular streams, rivers and lakes arising from guarantees contained in the Treaty of Waitangi. The Waitangi Tribunal has ruled they do and Crown lawyers have effectively conceded the point. The argument is over the extent and nature of those interests.

However, to suggest, as King Tuheitia did, that Maori own the water in the same way that someone can be said to own a television set, washing machine or pair of shoes is nonsensical.

Water cannot be owned; water rights can be, but they are a different thing and come with lesser entitlements. Conflating the two antagonises non-Maori, raises Maori expectations to levels that cannot be satisfied and undermines public support for the settlement of historic grievances.

Exactly. The posturing of the King has damaged his own cause – significantly.

Tags: , , , ,

A view that I will never accept

September 14th, 2012 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

I’m pretty liberal on issues to do with the Treaty of Waitangi, customary rights, common law rights, historical settlements. I’ve said I accept some Iwi have some rights around some water.

However I will never accept this view:

King Tuheitia said Maori had always owned the water.

Sorry, no you do not. You get certain rights from having moved here 600 years or so before the rest of us, but you do not get to claim ownership of all the water in New Zealand. We do not live in a country where the first wave of immigrants get all the rights, and the second wave get no rights over essential resources such as water.

The power to manage and control water and allocate water rights should rest with Maori, rather than the regional councils, he said.

This would make all non-Maori an inferior class of citizen.

If those who attended the hui wish to assert they own all the water in New Zealand, and that Maori should have total control of water management and allocation, they of course have that right. But they are risking a huge backlash that will dry up the considerable good will that exists in this country and allows settlements such as Tuhoe to have broad political support.

It would be relatively easy to get 300,000 signatures on a CIR on the topic “Should Maori own, manage and allocate water rights in New Zealand”. It would be an ugly divisive campaign, and set race relations back considerably. But it would get a record turnout, and a record no vote.

Now not all those who attended the Hui share the view of King Tuheitia that Maori own all the water in New Zealand, and should manage, control and allocate water rights. Ngai Tahi saud:

Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon said Maori all agreed on a collaborative approach toward settling water issues.

“From a Ngai Tahu perspective we don’t believe the asset sales will affect the rights and interests of Maori from reaching an agreement.”

The issue of whether or not asset sales impact any water rights that Maori do have, is one the courts will decide, so I’m not too worried about that particular issue.

The issue that worries me is having the Maori King assert ownership of all water in New Zealand. I do not believe that view can be left unchecked. I hope media ask Labour’s Maori MPs if they agree with that view. Ask the Greens also – in fact all Maori MPs in Parliament.

I also do not think that would be the view of the majority of Maori living in New Zealand.

Tags: , ,