Herald on Tuhoe settlement

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 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.

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