Waitangi Tribunal says TPPA not a Treaty breach

May 12th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Waitangi Tribunal have ruled the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has not breached Treaty obligations.

However, the report raised a number of concerns, such as misjudging Maori interests and a lack of transparency on Maori advice.

New Zealand is one of 12 countries party to the free trade deal, which the Government claims will benefit the country by $2.7 billion a year by 2030.

The Treaty of Waitangi clause in the agreement should “provide a reasonable degree of protection to Maori interests”, the Tribunal said.

This is no surprise. Sadly it won’t change the rhetoric of those opposed.

Charles Finny pointed out in February that NZ was the only country that got explicit mention of indigenous rights and protection of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Treaty and the Magna Carta

September 8th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Professor David Williams of the Auckland University Law Faculty is giving a public address:

The Treaty of Waitangi – the Maori Magna Carta
Public address by Dr David V Williams, Professor of Law, University of Auckland
St Andrews on The Terrace, Wellington
7:30pm Sunday 13th September

The blurb is:

“This year is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. It is also the 175th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The notion of ‘British sovereignty’ as understood in 1840 (rather than as understood in later and in more recent times) was consistent with the continued application of tikanga and rangatiratanga for governance of the affairs of hapu, whilst the colonial administration exercised direct authority over settlers and foreign traders. In debates about the Treaty of Waitangi in the early 1840s there were numerous references by the Governor and his officers to that treaty as the ‘Maori Magna Carta.’ The address will discuss aspects of that history and then turn to contemporary issues.

“Magna Carta’s symbolic strengths cannot guarantee good defence counsel for those who are accused of crimes, nor can they ensure that justice is indeed done when juries announce verdicts of guilty. But without due process and other common law liberties, the potential for more frequent examples of arbitrary and unfair detentions and imprisonments would be hugely enhanced. Noting instances of justice and injustice in recent times, the address will conclude that due process common law traditions associated with the Magna Carta remain of enduring significance.” – Dr David Williams

I was unaware that at the time the Treaty was referred to as the Maori Magna Carta. Should be an interesting lecture.

So what does Little mean by shared sovereignty?

February 10th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key says Andrew Little’s comments at Waitangi on Maori sovereignty were advancing “separatism.”

“I reckon he would be leading New Zealand completely down the wrong path,” Mr Key said at his post cabinet press conference today.

Mr Little told reporters the Waitangi Tribunal finding that Nga Puhi did not cede sovereignty should not be dismissed and that models of indigenous self-governance and law-making around the world should be explored.

“In 1840 when we singed the treaty, it strikes me we signed it for modern New Zealand, and that was a New Zealand where we co-habitated and ran the country together. It wasn’t about separatism. It was actually about community and Andrew Little is basically suggesting that we had down a path of separatism.”

He said he could not see New Zealanders supporting that.

As I said earlier, I look forward to Labour explaining what particular models of shared sovereignty they are thinking of.

Little wants to look at giving Iwi law making powers

February 7th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has proposed looking at giving Maori greater self-governance, possibly including the ability to make some of their own laws. …

He said it was time to look at what would happen after the settlements were completed.

He said some Native American tribes had law-making powers over their territories in the United States where recognised tribes were exempt from some laws – including taxation – and could create their own laws in many areas. Mr Little said allowing separate law-making was “highly problematic”.

“But we shouldn’t be so dismissive of any claim by iwi over what they do. We do have to function as a nation-state and we don’t want to compromise that. But let’s have a look at it.”

I encourage Labour to clarify their thinking and be very specific in their 2017 manifesto as to what law making powers they think Iwi should be given.

Brash’s response to Morgan

February 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Don Brash has kindly sent me his notes for his response at Orewa to Gareth Morgan:

Thanks for inviting me here today, and for the opportunity to comment on what Gareth has said.  I didn’t see the speech in advance of course, so these comments are just immediate reactions based partly on what Gareth said a few days ago in a speech to a Ngapuhi audience.

Let me say first that there are some of Gareth’s views with which I agree.  He said in his Ngapuhi speech that he is opposed to separate Maori electorates, Maori wards (and by implication the Maori Statutory Board in Auckland) and quotas for Maori in educational institutions.  Granting any group special rights is contrary to Article 3 of the Treaty he said, and I totally agree with that.

It’s also patronising, and implies that Maori aren’t quite competent enough to have their voices heard in the political arena without a special leg up.  Of course that is nonsense: when I was in Parliament, there were 21 Maori in Parliament – roughly the same percentage of Members of Parliament as Maori are in the wider population – only seven of them elected in the Maori electorates.  The other 14 were elected in general constituencies or were placed in a winnable position on a party’s list.

Similarly in Auckland: the first election of councillors after the super-city was established in 2010 saw three people of Maori descent elected – not in Maori wards but on their own merits – and again three Maori out of a total of 20 councillors meant that Maori on the Council were in roughly the same proportion as Maori in the general population.

But as explained in his Ngapuhi speech his basic position seems to be that –

“.. the Treaty is whatever a reasonable person’s view of the following four taken together leads them to – not any one taken in isolation, but all taken together:

  • Treaty of Waitangi
  • Te Tiriti O Waitangi
  • Principles of the Treaty
  • Post-1975 Consensus on the Treaty.”

And I think that that is a nonsense.  The so-called principles of the Treaty have often been referred to, frequently in legislation, but have never to my knowledge been fully explained, let alone agreed.  And to refer to a “post-1975 consensus on the Treaty” is again a meaningless concept – I know of no such consensus, and the whole reason for the ongoing debate is that there is no consensus about what the Treaty means, or should mean.

In one of his Herald articles recently he talked about Maori having a partnership with the Crown, making us, in his words, “one nation, two peoples”.  I also think this is nonsense, Lord Cooke notwithstanding.  The idea that Governor Hobson envisaged the British Crown – the representation of the most advanced country in the world at the time – forming a partnership with a disparate group of Maori chiefs who were, at that time, scarcely out of the Stone Age, is ludicrous.

So I disagree with Gareth’s starting point, and as a result I disagree with many of his conclusions. 

I think making the teaching of te reo compulsory in primary school, as he advocates, would be a complete waste of valuable teaching time for most New Zealand children, many of whom can’t even read and write well in English – which is not just the dominant language of New Zealand but is also the dominant language of the whole world.  Being able to read and write in English is of fundamental importance to all New Zealanders, whatever their ancestry.  And yes, there may be merits in terms of brain development in learning a second language at an early age, but if a second language is to be learnt it should be one which would be of benefit in the wider world, such as Mandarin or Spanish.  (Interestingly, I took part in a Maori TV programme a few years ago, on a panel of six people discussing whether te reo should be a compulsory subject in primary school.  Even though I was the only non-Maori on the panel, the panel voted by clear majority against making the teaching of te reo compulsory.)

And the idea of having an Upper House with 50% of its members being Maori strikes me as utterly absurd, and totally at odds with any concept of democracy.

Many of our problems today stem from the way in which Te Tiriti O Waitangi – the real Treaty, which Maori chiefs signed – has been reinterpreted to suit the desires of modern-day revisionists.  But its meaning is totally unambiguous.

The first clause involved Maori chiefs ceding sovereignty to the British Crown, completely and forever.  And there can be not the slightest doubt about that.  That Maori chiefs understood that at the time is abundantly clear from the speeches made by the chiefs themselves, both those in favour of signing and those opposed to it.  This was further confirmed by a large number of chiefs at the Kohimarama Conference in 1860, and confirmed again by Sir Apirana Ngata in 1920.

The third article of the Treaty provided that all Maori – “tangata Maori, katoa o Nu Tirani” – should receive full citizenship rights – and this included the many slaves of other Maori, most being held in abject conditions and often the victims of cannibal feasts.  Today, we tend to see this clause as no big deal but in 1840 it was an extraordinary thing for the Queen’s representatives to offer – nothing similar happened for the Australian aborigines, or the American Indians.   All Maori, no matter their status, were offered the “rights and privileges of British subjects”, putting them on a par with every other British subject – not, it may be noted, ahead of other British subjects but on a par with them.

The second clause is what has caused so much angst.  Actually, the clause is redundant since all it does is guarantee the right of citizens to own private property, and British subjects have this right anyway.   But note that the guarantee was made to all the people of New Zealand – “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani” – in clear distinction to the third article which specifically applied only to Maori – and “all” means “all”.  In other words, rights of ownership were guaranteed to all New Zealanders, not just to those with one or more Maori ancestors.

There is ongoing debate about what “tino rangatiratanga” meant at the time but it is impossible to believe it meant what modern-day revisionists try to take it to mean.  Why on earth would Hobson have asked Maori chiefs to sign a Treaty involving the complete cession of sovereignty in the first clause if the second clause contradicted that first clause?

Let me say that I have always supported the payment of compensation by the Crown to any New Zealander, Maori or non-Maori, who can establish with a reasonable degree of certainty that their property has been illegally confiscated by the Crown.  There are clearly suspicions that some of the claims which have been settled in recent times have in fact been settled on several previous occasions, and that brings the settlement process into disrepute.  But in principle nobody can object to the Crown paying compensation to any New Zealander whose property has been illegally confiscated.

So in summary, I like the Treaty: it is a very simple document recording the cession of sovereignty by the Maori chiefs who signed it; extending to them in return the full rights of British subjects; and guaranteeing to all New Zealanders the right to own property.

But it does not require us all to learn te reo; it does not provide for separate Maori electorates or Maori wards; it does not give Maori a power to veto RMA resource consents; it does not give Maori any preferential rights over natural resources; and it certainly provides no basis for an Upper House with half its members being Maori.

Cultural correctness on teacher training

August 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Ansell blogs the words of a recent teacher trainee:

As a recent graduate in secondary teaching, I have been invited to share my experiences of the teacher training I received.

I shall describe the cultural indoctrination to which trainee teachers are subjected and the flow-on effect this has on school culture and classroom learning.

I am aware of the risks involved in taking this action (my lecturers and classmates should have little trouble identifying me), but I hope that my example will encourage other teachers (and trainee teachers) to come forth and share their own experiences.

It is important that readers of this blog understand the hoops that trainee teachers are forced to jump through, and the limits on freedom of thought that are imposed from above.

Once upon a time education was about diversity of thought!

One of the essays that I had to write concerned the ‘roles and responsibilities of teachers and learners in the New Zealand classroom.’

The learning outcomes for this essay centred on biculturalism, te reo Maori and the historical, political, social and cultural influences on New Zealand schools.

Failure to satisfy the requirements for any one of these learning outcomes would necessitate a re-submission, and failure on the second attempt would mean failure for the course.

Frustrated by the indoctrination to which I had been subjected, I wrote critically about many of the issues we were expected to cover.

My intention was not to be provocative or incendiary, but to assess the issues in an objective, thoughtful and reasoned way.

When my essay was returned to me, I was shocked to discover that I had been given the lowest possible grade.

Even more distressing were the spiteful comments that appeared in the margin of my essay, accusing me of “monocultural ignorance” and of being “patronizing.”

The marker’s tone was defensive and censorial, as if I had no right to hold the views that I had expressed.

They were heresy I’m sure.

I was forced to resubmit the essay, exactly as they wanted it, expunged of all signs of a critical intellect.

It is a terrible thing to be conscripted into writing something that you do not believe, and for this to occur in a university environment is completely unacceptable.

Universities should welcome critical dissent, not squash it.

I don’t agree with all of the views of the teacher trainee. But views on Treaty issues should not be a litmus test for who can be a teacher.

Finlayson on Treaty settlements

February 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Finlayson wrote on Waitangi Day:

Some people say they want an end to historical settlements. Most people agree. I do. Maori want them resolved as well.

For a while it seemed as if this might never happen. The process, which had started with fanfare in the 1990s, was crawling along at a snail’s pace for much of the 2000s.

One briefing to the previous government optimistically predicted all settlements could be completed by the year 2060.

That has changed. The completion of all settlements is now an achievable goal. It can happen, with the goodwill of all parties, in the next few years.

Of the big settlements, only really Ngapuhi to go.

The settlements will end not because Maori and the public have tired of them, but because they are finished.

The Ngati Kuri will bring to 42 the number of settlements this Government has signed with iwi. That brings the total to 68.

National’s policy since the 1990s has been to address real grievances by reaching full and final settlements with genuine claimants in a timely fashion. Are there non-genuine claims? Certainly, just as there are vexatious cases in the common law courts. They are easy to spot. We are not interested in claims about the ownership of wind, for example.

Or the airwaves!

We are determined, however, to put right the thoroughly and accurately documented cases of hurt caused by the Crown’s wrongful actions in the past. This is what Treaty settlements are about.

The faster we settle these claims, the sooner there is an end. The sooner we settle, the sooner iwi can see the benefits of their settlements, and the sooner all New Zealanders benefit from moving on from grievance. Justice delayed is justice denied.

And the good news is that the completion of settlements is closer than many people think.

The number of remaining settlements is fewer than 50. Many of the remaining claimants have signed agreements in principle setting out the broad parameters of their settlements, and the Crown is engaged with almost all groups.

We are well on the way to the end. And the sky has not fallen. Despite dire predictions from a small minority at the beginning of this process, the quality of life of most New Zealanders has not been affected in any way. Beaches, national parks, rivers and mountain ranges are still enjoyed by everyone in exactly the same way they were before.

What has happened is that iwi have invested in their people and their regions.

Rather than blowing the proceeds of Treaty settlements, as was again predicted by a vocal few, most have acted wisely and developed the capacity of their people.

This is true. Even Tainui which had some problems a decade ago, is doing very well now.

More kids to visit Waitangi

November 30th, 2013 at 7:27 am by Jadis

A new initiative has been set up between the Waitangi National Trust and Westpac bank to encourage more children to visit Waitangi leading up to the 175th anniversary of the Treaty signing.

Figures from the Waitangi National Trust show that of the 100,000 people who visit the Treaty grounds each year nearly half (45,000) are tourists, and nearly half of the 55,000 domestic visitors are from Auckland.

But only 3,000 schoolchildren – or just over 2.5 per cent of New Zealand’s 762,400 primary and secondary school students – make the trek north each year to the historic grounds.

This seems like a low number for a location that has great significance to New Zealand’s history however it isn’t the most accessible part of the country.  It would probably make some sense for the initiative called ‘Our Nation’s children’ to perhaps target Auckland schools. For once I agree with the Principals’ Federation that it would be more difficult to get children from other parts of the country there:

“Look at the cost of a child in Gore catching a flight to Kerikeri; it was $800 for a return flight on Air New Zealand, it’s an awful lot of money.”

“That doesn’t allow for food and accommodation … how sustainable is that over time ?”

I remember visiting the Treaty grounds as a kid.  My parents had a general belief to see all parts of New Zealand on our summer school holidays.  We would scrapbook and write stories about what we had seen and learned each day.  That of course was driven by my parents.

So many New Zealanders have a view of Waitangi as being a divisive and even scary place based on what they’ve seen from protests at Waitangi from the past.  That can be a barrier to visiting.

It would be great to see Waitangi visited as often as Independence Hall is visited in the US.  For interests sake I thought I’d have a look at the websites of the two locations.  The site for Independence Hall (the location of where the Declaration of Independence was signed) is run by the US National Parks Service. It is clearly a very busy park and there’s a tonne to do on site and online.  I then had a look at the Waitangi National Trust site that runs the visitor programme at Waitangi.  I was pleasantly surprised at the level of education available online especially for teachers and children.  The pages related to the new initiative ‘Our Nation’s Children’ are interesting and the schools’ competition certainly reduces the costs for some children to get to the grounds.

One interesting difference is that access to Waitangi is $25 for overseas visitors while Independence Hall is free to all (though extras such as tours are charged). A guided tour at Waitangi is $10 for all adults.  At both sites children under 17 are free.


The last big settlement makes progress

June 28th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Ngāpuhi write:

The historic Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement journey is gaining momentum, with the Government calling for submissions on the Tūhoronuku Deed of Mandate.

In a letter received from the Crown today, Tūhoronuku have been advised that the Crown will be advertising their mandate for public submissions in early July.

Ngāpuhi is by far the biggest Iwi in Aotearoa with an estimated 140,000 members. The Ngāpuhi settlement will be the last of the big Treaty settlements, and Iwi leaders and Government predict it will have a transformative effect on the struggling Northland economy

In September 2011, Ngāpuhi overwhelmingly gave their mandate to Te Rōpū o Tūhoronuku (Tūhoronuku) to represent them in negotiations on settlement of all Crown breaches and grievances against Ngāpuhi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Since then Tūhoronuku has worked to strengthen the Deed of Mandate, giving hapū a greater voice and regional representation.

Once the Government recognise the Tuhoronuku mandate, the Tuhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority (Tuhoronuku IMA) comes into existence, holding elections for new representatives during the latter part of this year.

Settlement negotiations with the Government are expected to begin early in 2014, with the Government saying it hopes the process will be concluded by year end.

This is the last major historical Treaty settlement. Having the Crown recognise the mandate of Tuhoronuku to negotiate the settlement is key. It is often the most tricky part of the negotiations – ensuring that the negotiators have a widely recognised and supported mandate from the Iwi and hapu. Once you get that sorted out, the actual negotiations around the settlement are less complex (but still far from simple).

If there is a Ngāpuhi settlement by the end of 2014, then all the major settlements will be concluded. And I unashamedly say that is a good thing. Even though some doubt they will be enduring, what is their solution? To just stop the settlement halfway through and say no more settlements? Think if the Government did that in Christchurch? Those who have their insurance claim already done are okay, but those who have not yet had it processed miss out entirely – tough biscuits for them.

Guest Post: David Garrett on full and final settlement

June 11th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by former ACT MP David Garrett:

Why Maori grievance settlements are not “full and final” –  and how  they could be.

From  the time of  its election in 2008 this government has done one thing consistently – pay out large sums of taxpayers’ money to supposedly achieve “full and final” settlements of a plethora of Maori grievances. Almost every week the galleries of Parliament are filled by one group of Maori or another who proceed to sing beautifully as the Bill settling “their” grievance, supposedly once and for all,   is passed into law. But that won’t in fact  be the end of it, and all the players know it.

First some history.  In the 1940’s the Labour government of the day made real and genuine efforts to settle Maori grievances which had been festering for years – and they had been, despite the claims of some on the right that “grievance” is very recent  phenomenon.  To take just one example, it is quite true that since their land was confiscated after the Land Wars of the 1860’s, Tainui had been bitterly protesting what they claimed was unjust and unlawful  confiscations of land. And they were right.

Back in 1926, the government of the day set up the Sim Commission – chaired by a [then]  Supreme Court Judge –   to investigate   claims of unjust land confiscations in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Taranaki. Its report was released in 1927, and recommended  compensation of about $500,000 per annum in today’s money be made. For twenty years, nothing happened, and the grievances festered through another generation.

Then came the Waikato-Maniapoto Maori Claims Settlement Act of 1946, which gave force to an agreement reached personally between Prime Minister Peter Fraser and Princess Te Puea. In his biography “Te Puea”, Michael King describes the settlement negotiations, and in particular the final session, at which Fraser agreed to pay 5000 pounds (a million dollars today) per year for ever, and an additional 1000 pounds per year for 45 years, commencing in 1947. Similar Acts were passed around the same time “settling” the claims by Taranaki iwi and Ngai Tahu. All of those settling Acts were overturned less than 50 years later.

It is now claimed that: 1) the settlements were negotiated with the wrong people; and/or 2) they were for trifling sums; and/or  3) the sums were eroded by inflation. As to the first, it didn’t get any higher than the PM on one side, and the most respected Maori leader of her day on the other. As to the “trifling sums” claim, that is clearly nonsense.  It is certainly true that 6000 pounds in 1946 was not worth anything like the same amount thirty or forty  years later because of inflation. But anyone who retired on a fixed income before inflation became a phenomenon  had that problem. It simply wasn’t considered at the time.

Fast forward into the 90’s, and the Tainui  and other iwi convinced the government of the day  that the “settlements” of 50 years earlier weren’t settlements at all;  the whole issue was revisited, and millions of taxpayer dollars were paid. Again, the new settlements were given force in legislation – the laws passed in the 1940’s simply being repealed because they were no longer convenient.

But we did not learn the lessons of the 1940’s, and we still haven’t. Those prior settlements could simply be written out of existence because the laws which gave force to them were not entrenched; they could be repealed by any government able to muster a simple majority, as any government can.

Now, twenty years on from the settlements of the 90’s, were are still “settling” grievances, and still passing laws which can be repealed when the next generation decides to have a crack.  The Attorney General claimed on National Radio recently that the current settlements will not  be revisted,  yet again, in 40 years time. In making that claim, he is at best being disingenuous.

 Firstly neither he nor anyone else knows what will happen in 40 years – the more honest Maori leaders are now admitting that no generation can bind the next. Secondly, Finlayson is well aware that the legislation he  sponsors now  is no more legally durable than that passed 50 years ago – these most recent laws can also be repealed by any future  government with a simply majority.

 There is at least a possible solution – entrenching  the laws being passed with gay abandon so  they cannot be repealed without a “supermajority” of – say – 75% of MP’s in favour. Or if we really want to be serious,  unless there is a popular referendum with a similar majority.   While legal academic opinion is divided on just how effective such entrenchment attempts  would be, it would at least be a signal that this government was serious; that the settlements of the last 20 years were intended to be full and final, that this was accepted by the grievants, and that any attempt to reopen the can of worms would simply be a venal attempt to get more money.

 Why hasn’t this government entrenched its “settling” Bills? There are various answers, none of them complimentary.  Finlayson and his ilk simply cannot argue, when we go down this path again,   that everything was done at the time to finally close the books. Until that is done – as well as our constitutional arrangements allows – none  of the settlements now being made can be considered “full and final”.  And the Attorney General knows it.

I agree with David Garrett that you can not guarantee what people may try to do in 50 years.  You can’t pass a law banning people from advocating something. However there are a number of reasons why I think the current settlements will be durable, which I’ll do a separate post on at some stage.

Herald on Tuhoe settlement

June 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The whole country ought to be celebrating the historic settlement with Tuhoe signed at Parliament last week. Tuhoe marked the occasion by turning up in large numbers, filling Parliament’s Banquet Hall, Grand Hall, Legislative Chamber and lobbies as well as the Pipitea Marae nearby. It puts to rest grievances that have festered for up to 160 years in the Ureweras where Tuhoe resisted the Treaty of Waitangi and asserted their independence.

If there was one Iwi which I thought a settlement may never happen with, it was Tuhoe.

It ought to be noted that the Office of Treaty Settlements does not always contest claimants’ versions of history. Settlements are considered more important than rigorous historical inquiry. But the Tuhoe have ample support for their version from the Waitangi Tribunal and academic research. They stand to receive $170 million in compensation. The agreement has yet to be ratified by the tribe but last week’s turn-out at Parliament gives confidence that it will be. Mr Kruger hopes some of the $170 million will be used for water supply, sewerage and electricity to remote communities.

Sounds good.

The Tuhoe deal is one of 12 done with iwi in the current financial year. The Government’s aim to have all outstanding Waitangi claims wrapped up in two more years is now in sight. Since 1990, 62 settlements have been reached and while 60 remain, the Crown is talking to claimants in every area. Often the first stage, getting agreement between claimants on their representation, is the most difficult.

At times, National has seemed in too much of a hurry to finish the settlements and put history behind us at last. Nothing will be gained if today’s deals do not satisfy more than the present generation of claimants.

The settlements can never match the monetary value today of the resources iwi lost. They will be “full and final” settlements only once they have managed to lift overall Maori levels of education, employment, business and wealth.

I disagree. The settlements are about resolving grievances, not about “closing the gaps”. What Iwi spend their settlements on, and whether they lead to an increase in education, employment and wealth is up to them. Some Iwi have decided to lease their fishing quota to foreign crewed fishing vessels, rather than have local companies create jobs for locals. That is their decision to make – to have an emphasis on wealth over jobs. But in no way does their decisions on how to use their settlements, mean the settlements can not be regarded as full or final.

South Island settlements now complete!

April 20th, 2013 at 2:37 pm by David Farrar

Chris Finlayson has announced:

Today’s signing between the Crown Ngāti Tama ki Te Tau Ihu at Onetahua Marae in Golden Bay marks the final deed of settlement for historical claims in the South Island, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson announced.

“This government is committed to resolving all historical Treaty grievances, and so it is a monumental occasion as we sign the last outstanding deed of settlement for historical claims in the South Island,” Mr Finlayson said.

This is the 62nd deed of settlement signed by the Crown since 1990. It is the 36th to have been signed since November 2008.

“This government is committed to just and durable settlements of these grievances in a timely fashion,” he said. “We have increased the rate at which settlements are being reached, so that full and final resolution of these issues is accomplished sooner for the benefit of Māori and all New Zealanders.” …

“Over the past four years the completion of all historical settlements has gone from being a vanishing point constantly beyond the horizon, to being recognized as an achievable goal that is now well advanced,” Mr Finlayson said.

The only major area which has a settlement yet to progess is in Northland, where Iwi find it difficult to agree on who does the negotiation.

Over around 25 years, the settlements will total around $1.5 billion. That is not a huge amount of money considering the Government is spending around $70 billion a year.

I expect the final historical settlement to occur in this decade. That will be a very good thing. Many Iwi such as Ngai Tahi have gone from grievance mode to achievement mode.

The completion of historical settlements will not mean an end to Treaty issues. There will still be arguments over resource consent issues, water rights, airwaves and the like. You can’t pass a law saying people are not allowed to argue!

A constitutional issues poll

April 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curiablog the details of a poll by ResearchNZ on constitutional issues. Pleased to see 58% support for a four year term, but that is not the surprising result.

If NZ does adopt a written constitution, 58% said they support incorporating the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi into it, with only 35% opposed.

I’m a bit surprised by that level of support. Mind you if you asked along the lines of “Do you think the Supreme Court should be able to strike down laws that it finds are inconsistent with the Treaty of Waitangi“, you may get a somewhat different result.

Spectrum is not a taonga say Government

February 22nd, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Hamish Fletcher at NZ Herald reports:

The Government says it will not set aside any spectrum for Maori when it auctions it off later this year.

In third quarter of this year the Government hopes to allocate parts of the radio spectrum, which will become available after the switchover to digital television.

The allocation of this spectrum will allow telecommunications companies to build fourth generation (4G) mobile networks that provide much faster mobile broadband speeds.

“Indications are that by using the spectrum for 4G mobile networks, we can expect economic benefits for New Zealand of up to $2.4 billion over the next twenty years,” Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams said today.

I’m pleased to see this decision. It is stretching credibility to say that the electromagnetic spectrum was what people had in mind as a taonga when the Treaty was signed in 1840.

Equally difficult to claim there was customary usage of it under the common law!

Oaths vs Speeches

November 9th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Personally I’m not sure MPs should have to swear an oath at all. The oath is just a piece of formality. But if we are to keep an oath, then it should be as non controversial as possible – something like uphold the law, do your duty and serve the people of New Zealand.

So I wasn’t a big fan of changing the law so MPs could include a reference to the Treaty of Waitangi in their oaths. That creates multiple oaths. If MPs want to mention the Treaty of Waitangi they can do so in their speeches.

NBR reports:

What some see as another bid by the Maori party to take New Zealand down the road of racial separatism has been rebuffed in Parliament.

Te Ururoa Flavell’s private member’s bill allowing people to pledge to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi when making legal oaths was thrown out by 69 votes to 52.

National, ACT, United Future and New Zealand First all voted against it.

So Labour, Greens, Maori and Mana voted for it.


Ansell on his Treatygate campaign

October 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Ansell blogs:

You’re invited to Treatygate/Colourblind State speech, Remuera Rotary Club, next Monday 8th October, 6.30pm.

If you’re in Auckland this coming Monday evening, I’ll be making my first speech about the Treatygate/Colourblind State campaign to the Remuera Rotary Club.

(At the Remuera Bowling Club, just to confuse you.)

You’re invited, and so are the media. …

Well, here’s a few things they didn’t tell you:

  • In 1840, those old chiefs were queuing up to take the Queen’s money for huge tracts of their land. Why? Because they had no use for it. Their tribes were tiny, and they knew nothing of farming or forestry. They just saw it as waste land, so why not swap it for something useful?
  • In 1860, the largest-ever gathering of chiefs thanked the British for giving them law and order and property rights, for abolishing cannibalism and slavery, and for saving their people from extinction after a quarter century of intertribal genocide. (If only today’s Maori leaders were as grateful!)
  • As war loomed, the rebel tribes were warned that if they took up arms against the Queen, they’d have their lands taken and given to people who could be trusted to keep the peace.
  • All major Treaty claims were settled by 1947 – before the Pandora’s box was stupidly reopened in the 1970s.
  • Some claims have now been settled “fully and finally” four and five times – with no end in sight.
  • Hobson’s long-missing final Treaty draft was found in 1989, then hushed up by state academics. Why? Because that draft said the same things as the Maori Tiriti (the only treaty Hobson recognised). And both the draft and the Tiriti make it clear that the Treaty was with “all the people of New Zealand”, not just Maori. And neither makes any mention of Maori owning forests or fisheries.

On Monday in Auckland, at the Remuera Rotary Club (which meets at the Remuera Bowling Club), I’ll be putting up my evidence against the Treatygate fraudsters.

More crucially, I’ll be putting up some solutions about how we can put an end to the Treatygate rort, and chart a more unified course.

Should we hijack the hijackers with a written constitution of our own?

Should we petition for a referendum to sweep away the whole Treaty gravy train once and for all?

Or should we start a one-off, one-term, totally incorruptible, single-issue political party to force the government to start running New Zealand as a democracy?

Should be an interesting speech.

The students’ constitution

September 7th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Isaac Davison at NZ Herald reports:

The Waitangi Tribunal would have binding powers to remedy Treaty breaches in a written constitution drawn up by 50 of the country’s brightest young people.

The draft constitution, developed by law, history and communications students at Parliament, also called for New Zealand to become a republic and for four-year parliamentary terms.

I agree with a four year term (essential in fact) and a republic. The Treaty issue is more difficult.

Lead facilitator Dean Knight, from Victoria University Law School, said the group made it very clear that the Treaty of Waitangi should be central to a new constitution.

The final document, which is published online today, said: “The tribunal may provide a remedy to a claimant if a breach of a right arises from a breach of the principles of Te Tiriti.”

Mr Knight noted that the gathering did not reach a consensus on this clause. “What they’re signalling is enhanced powers for the Treaty of Waitangi, moving towards binding recommendations, but not necessarily going as far as striking down legislation.”

At present, the tribunal could make recommendations which Government could choose to ignore.

Otago University law student Louis Chambers said the biggest sticking point in developing the document was how strong the constitution would be. “We had to ask: ‘Is the constitution a symbolic document that guides the New Zealand public or is it something that you can actually go to the courts and enforce if it is not complied with?”‘

The group eventually decided that the Bill of Rights would be strengthened, and the Waitangi Tribunal would be given greater powers. But ultimate responsibility would be left to Government, and the judiciary would not be able to declare any law invalid if it breached the constitution.

I support there being a written constitution. Having seen a Government retrospectively amend the Electoral Act to keep a Minister in Parliament, I am convinced we need safeguards from a non-benign Government.

I’m not against the Treaty of Waitangi being part of a constitution, but with two caveats.

  1. It must be the Treaty itself in the constitution, not these nebulous “principles of the Treaty” that have taken a life of their own.
  2. The constitution, and hence the Treaty, must be amendable

You can not put something into constitutional or supreme law, which is unamendable. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights is amendable. The US Declaration of Independence is not, and hence has no status in law.

If people want the Treaty to be part of our constitution, they have to provide for a mechanism which can update it


The treatygate campaign

August 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Ansell has blogged on the treatygate campaign, as reported yesterday by Critic. His plan is:

  1. Launch Colourblind New Zealand, and set a goal to lock in one law for all by December 2014.
  2. Raise a $2 million fighting fund so the politicians know we’re able to embarrass them.
  3. Petition for a referendum at the 2014 election. Question: “Do you want New Zealand to be a Colourblind State, with one law for all, and no racial favouritism of any kind?”
  4. How to make the PM obey the referendum result? Run lots of bold Treatygate ads telling voters just who has been conning them, and how.
  5. If media refuse to run these ads, use rival media to expose them as part of the con.
  6. Bombard government MPs with instructions from their voters to obey their will.
  7. Support local body campaigns on Maori wards (typically attracting an 80% NO vote).

For my 2c I have long said I think NZ would be better off without the Maori parliamentary seats, and that having race based seats on local bodies is definitely not heading in the right direction..

However I differ from John in terms of how I view the Treaty of Waitangi. I think the settlement of historical grievances is a very good thing, and I do not have a problem with the Treaty of Waitangi having legal recognition – but the Treaty itself, not the more nebulous “principles”.

Also while I think NZ would be better off without the Maori seats (race based seats can only be divisive in the long run), I don’t think it is wise for the majority to remove something which has taken on huge significance with many Maori. The majority of New Zealanders who are of Maori descent have chosen to enrol on the Maori roll, which is significant. This may be partly tactical of course though.

So my preference is to convince Maori that they would be better off to do away with the Maori seats, and instead implement what the 1986 Royal Commission implemented of no threshold for Maori parties contesting the party vote. That of course is not entirely colour-blind – but I think both a better solution for Maori, and a less divisive one for New Zealand.

Critic on Treatygate

August 13th, 2012 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

An exclusive from Critic:

Critic has obtained documents from controversial race campaigner Louis Crimp, setting out a plan for a $2million campaign aiming to make New Zealand a “colourblind” (racially neutral) state. The campaign will be split into two distinct “brands”, known as “Treatygate” and “Colourblind State”.

‘Treatygate” is the “attack brand”, and will involve a series of brief, hard-hitting advertisements designed to incite “anger” in “hothead” voters. Treatygate aims to “expose the 40 year state brainwashing campaign that has distorted the history of Crown-Maori relations”.

Speaking to Critic, John Ansell, the advertising guru behind the campaign, described the planned advertisements for Treatygate as “short sharp little messages with one piece of evidence in each one”, such as that “Maori companies pay 17.5% tax, [while] others pay 28%.”

According to Ansell the primary goal of the Treatygate campaign is to “expose the bias and enrage the public”. “You have to make the public mad… otherwise we’re the passionless people, we won’t rouse ourselves to oppose the politicians unless [the public] have the information.”

The Treatygate campaign is likely to kick off before the end of 2012, dependent on funding.

After the public have been fired up by the Treatygate campaign, “Colourblind State” aims to harness this anger to get 80% or more of the public to vote in favour of a referendum question along the lines of “Should New Zealand be a colourblind state, with no race-based political representation, policies, or funding?”. Ansell intends to submit his referendum question by the end of August, which will give Parliament three months to approve it. After that, Ansell and his fellow campaigners will have one year to gather the more than 300,000 signatures required to trigger a citizens initiated referendum.

I wonder which CIR may gain more signatures – the asset sales one, or this proposed one? I guess the Greens will not be using taxpayer funding to hire staff to colect signatures for this one!

But Labour and the Greens are insisting that a CIR trumps an election mandate. So if this CIR does happen, and gets majority support, will they adopt it as policy?

For Ansell and his supporters, time is of the essence – the Constitutional Advisory Panel, which was set up in 2011 to review NZ’s constitutional arrangements and draft a set of recommendations, is due to report back in September 2013. Ansell believes that the panel is “stacked” in favour of what he describes as “Griever Maori”, and that the panel is likely to recommend that the government “impose a Treaty-based Maorified constitution by 2014”, which would be “the end of NZ as we know it”.

The Treatygate campaign will involve TV and print advertisements, dependent on funding. However, Ansell says: “The NZ media are pretty gutless so they probably won’t run the ads, so we may have to find other ways of getting them to the public – putting them in letterboxes, dropping them from planes, whatever it takes.”

As well as whipping up public sentiment in favour of a colourblind state, Ansell hopes his campaign will “turn people around from the belief that if you say one thing against this rort then you’re a racist. It’s a tough road, because in America you’re a racist if you wear a white hood and want to lynch black people, and in NZ you’re a racist if you want racial equality.”

Funding is the biggest roadblock standing in the way of Ansell’s campaign so far – although he is aiming for a “political party-type budget” of $2 million, several of his donors have bailed out on him, including one “patriot” who had originally pledged $250,000. Despite this setback, Ansell remains hopeful that funding will trickle in over time. “Hopefully we can start with something small and it’ll snowball. I will be putting out my prospectus to as many people I can think of as possible, with deep pockets, who might be prepared to help, and to ordinary people.”

Note John has commented on the articles in the comments below it.

Treaty relativity clauses

March 28th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

After years of speculation, the Government and Ngai Tahu have confirmed a Treaty of Waitangi top-up clause is set to trigger, potentially pumping millions into the beleaguered South Island economy.

Both Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui negotiated “insurance clauses” as part of their original settlements, entitling each iwi to a percentage of all future Treaty settlements once they exceeded $1 billion in 1994 dollar terms.

For the first time, the Government has acknowledged that amount could be reached this year, which would entitle Ngai Tahu to 16.1% and Waikato-Tainui 17% of all future Treaty settlements.

Morgan Godfrey blogs:

If one or more of the larger iwi settle this year, think Tuhoe and Ngati Tuwharetoa, the relativity clause will almost certainly be triggered. The relativity clause ensures Ngai Tahu and Tainui maintain their position relative to other iwi. It’s, as termed above, an insurance clause. 

Under the principles of the Treaty, the Crown is obligated to preserve tribal relations. In practice this means the Crown should not give an unfair advantage to one or more iwi, hence the relativity clause. The clause ensures Ngai Tahu and Tainui remain at the top of the pecking order – at least until Tuhoe and Nga Puhi settle. 

I’m surprised this story’s failed to gain more traction. When the clause is invoked, the consequences will be considerable. Many New Zealanders will resent the fact that some iwi can double dip, some tribes may resent this as well and the National government won’t want to this to stick to them. After all, it was the previous National government that negotiated the clause. 

I don’t think you can fairly call this double dipping, which I see more as coming back twice for the same claim. Any additional payment due to the relativity clauses is part of the settlement agreement.

The ODT continues:

University of Otago politics department associate professor Janine Hayward said the mechanism was “simply an insurance clause” for Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui, which were among the first to negotiate settlements.

“It was a good deal for both to make sure the settlement happened, and Ngai Tahu were pretty brave getting off the blocks first,” she said.

The iwi were the only ones to have negotiated top-up clauses, which came about after the then National government signalled a $1 billion fiscal cap on total settlements.

I doubt one could have got the initial settlements without those clauses, as this was uncharted territory.  It looks like the total cost of settlements will be over $1b in 1994 terms, but even if it reaches $2b, that is not a huge amount of expenditure over a 25 year period – around $80m a year.

This Government is making rapid progress on settling the remaining historical grievances. I don’t think they will all be settled by 2014, but think they probably will be by 2017. It will be a great day when we can put them into the past. That doesn’t mean there may not be ongoing contemporary issues, but the hope is that the focus is more on the future than the past.

Asset Sales and the Treaty

January 31st, 2012 at 12:51 pm by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

The Government is being accused of selling Treaty rights to the highest bidder following suggestions Treaty protections will not be included in new legislation to enact the partial sale of state-owned assets.

Nationwide hui begin next week for the Government to consult Maori on its plans to sell up to 49 per cent of four state-owned energy companies and further reduce its shareholding of Air New Zealand.

The Government is required to pass legislation to remove the four energy companies from the State-Owned Enterprises Act to proceed with the sales.

If a company is no longer an SOE, then its obligations are the same as any other company, such as Air New Zealand.

But in all the fuss about asset sales and Maori, I like this investigation by Cactus Kate:

Ngai Tgahu know all about asset sales so should be supporting National’s privatisation programme. Here are just two recent examples of Maori more than happy to flog off their assets to foreigners who need OIO approvals.
In 2010 they sold 1348 hectares in Kaikoura to an American couple for 7.5 million dollars. They paid 8 million dollars so made a $500,000 loss.

In 2011 they sold 18,000 hectares of forest to a Swiss owned family company for 22.9 million dollars.

So Ngai Tahu sold twice as much land as the Crafar farms. Does Labour and the Maori Party think they should have not been allowed to do so?

UPDATE: The Maori Party are saying they may quit the Government if there is no treaty clause in the legislation removing the companies from the SOE schedule. This ratchets up the pressure on the Government considerably, but it is worth noting the Government can govern without Maori Party support.

If the Maori Party walk over this, they’ll presumably lose the constitutional review, their portfolios, and I imagine Whanua Ora. The second term was always going to be more challenging for National and the Maori Party – but I guess John Key was hoping flare ups would not occur quite so quickly.

The Maori Party do need to be careful about threatening to walk over an issue. That’s a card you can play only once or twice in a term. If you try to play it too often, then it loses its effectiveness and even backfires.

A new Treaty claim

September 15th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I understand that for the first time ever, the Crown has filed a Treaty of Waitangi claim against an Iwi.

The Government is claiming that Ngai Tahu sold them dud land in Christchurch and they want Ngai Tahu to buy the land back 🙂

Treaty claim lodged to stop VSM

September 8th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour have failed with their year of filibustering the VSM bill. It completed the committee stages last night and is set down for third and final reading on Wed 28 September.

Hilarious to hear Labour MPs use 1984 speak in claiming the bill removes democratic rights from students. They would have you think our soldiers fought in WWII to defend the right for students to be forced against their will to fund a incorporated society that advocates for things they don’t support.

Having failed in the House, NZUSA have come up with a new strategy:

Maori student representatives have formally lodged a claim into the Waitangi Tribunal seeking an urgent Tribunal hearing into the impacts of ACT’s bill to end universal membership of students’ associations. The Tribunal has acknowledged receipt of the claim and is currently being considered as a single new claim. …

The claim seeks the Tribunal’s recommendation that the Bill is:
(a) abolished and
(b) that provision be made to protect tauira Māori, their local roopu, and their national representation.

“NZUSA supports this claim. The government does not seem to care about the real impacts this will have on the ground. The disgraceful fact remains that the government has done no analysis or real consideration of what impact this Bill will have on student services, student representation, and the quality of education for students as a whole,” says NZUSA co-President David Do.

Mr Do is of course a former chair of Princess St Labour.  NZUSA at times resembles the tertiary education wing of the Labour Party.

I have to say it was very forward-looking of Governor Hobson to have inserted the secret fourth article:


Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals that if it establishes any tertiary educational institutes in New Zealand, it shall require all students thereof to become a member of an association of students, and pay whatever fee is demanded by said association, so the association can pay for taonga such as psychic hotlines.

I guess the next step after this will be for NZUSA to ask the United Nations to intervene.


July 2nd, 2011 at 5:29 am by David Farrar

Marty Sharpe at Stuff reports:

Maori do not own treasures such as flora and fauna but they are entitled to a “reasonable degree of protection” over them, a landmark report from the Waitangi Tribunal says.

It also says that unless Maori are given more say on the use of their culture and taonga – as promised in the Treaty of Waitangi – they will continue to figure disproportionately in the ranks of the poor and underproductive.

The Crown “either deliberately or through neglect, has largely supported one of New Zealand’s two founding cultures at the expense of the other”, the tribunal says in a report 20 years in the making.

The report on the WAI262 claim has been described as the most important Treaty development in a generation, but its findings – made public today – are already under fire from both sides of the political spectrum, and nothing is likely to happen to it until after the general election.

Maori Party MP Rahui Katene – the daughter of one of the original WAI262 claimants – said the findings were very political, weak and had missed the point.

Sounds like the Waitangi Tribunal has got it about right, if people on both ends are upset.

Mana Party flunks Treaty 101

June 24th, 2011 at 10:10 am by David Farrar

The Mana Party announced its first official policy this week, the Treaty of Waitangi Policy. It said:

Remove the 2014 deadline for lodging historical claims with the Waitangi Tribunal to better enable iwi with such claims to properly research and state their cases.

The only trouble with this policy is the deadline is not 2014, but was 2008. S6A of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 states:

… after 1 September 2008 no Maori may submit a claim to the Tribunal that is, or includes, a historical Treaty claim

So Mana’s presumably most important policy, is wrong on the most critical of details. That is just appalling.