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Ihumātao | National Party Solutions | More Problematic than Helpful
Former Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson and National leader Simon Bridges- Photo image supplied

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Ihumātao | National Party Solutions | More Problematic than Helpful
Dr Rawiri Taonui

This column looks at the National Party proposals for resolving the stand-off over the Fletcher Residential Special Housing Project at Ihumātao.

Simon Bridges

National Party and Opposition Leader Simon Bridges believes the solution is for the Save Our Unique Landscape (Soul) ‘protestors’ (his reference) to go home. This is more problematic than helpful. The ‘protectors’ (their preference) are already at home. They have lived there for several hundreds of years.

Bridges, has also said he would back the Police, one presumes to clear the site with force if necessary. He forgets that 41 years ago at Bastion Point, when taken Māori land was wrongly offered for sale as housing, it took 800 Police and army personnel to arrest 222 protestors in then the largest police action against Māori since Parihaka in 1881.

In a conscientized social media environment sensitive to injustice, Soul have already demonstrated that were able to mobilise 2000 then 5000 supporters on-site within a few days of an eviction notice. Therefore, Bridges’ proposal may require a Police operation against Māori on scale with that of Parihaka, Bastion Point, the arrest of Rua Kenana in 1916, and the Tūhoe ‘Terrorist Raids’ of 2007. An unwise suggestion; but understandable from a politician himself facing eviction in the polls.

Ihumātao has gone three times to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples all of whom have expressed grave reservations about the proposed Fletcher development and called for proper consultation with mana whenua including obtaining their ‘free, prior and informed consent’ before the project proceeds. A large scale and now unnecessary Police action, particularly given the current mediation facilitated by Tainui-Waikato, would risk inviting widespread international condemnation.

We need also cognise that history has fallen on the side of many Māori causes originally condemned. Naida Glavish was fired for saying ‘kia ora’ - today te reo is everywhere. Hinewehi Mohi was vilified for singing the national anthem in te reo - we now sing the bilingual version. Ngā Tamatoa and Waitangi Action Committee protest action at Waitangi led to the Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty of Waitangi settlements. The Takaparawha Bastion Point arrests led to the return of land 10 years later. The arrest of protestors led by Tuaiwa Eva Rickard at Raglan Golf course also ended in the return of their land. There have been apologies for the Rua Kenana, Parihaka and Tūhoe debacles.

police 3

Photo supplied

Chris Finlayson

Former National Minister of Treaty Settlements, Chris Finlayson, has said that last month’s Soul march to the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s electorate office in Auckland should have gone in the other direction to the Kīngitanga led Tainui - Waikato tribal group who being ‘very wealthy’ have a ‘fantastic opportunity to step up and buy the land’.

Finlayson forgets that his failure to step up in the former National government has contributed to the debacle at Ihumātao. In 2008, Finlayson introduced a two-step process to negotiate firstly the Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Deed of Settlement (2012) covering the shared interests of 13 iwi across central Auckland, followed by individual agreements with each iwi on specific claims. This included the South Auckland iwi of Ngāti Tamaoho, Ngāti Te Ata, and Te Ākitai Waiohua, each of which suffered confiscation alongside Ihumātao after the 1863 Pākehā War on Waikato Māori.

However, in an egregious omission with direct consequence in the dispute now unfolding at Ihumātao, Ngāti Te Ahiwaru - Ngāti Māhuta (Te Ahiwaru) the principle mana whenua group at Ihumātao were excluded from the Tāmaki collective exercise. Had Te Ahiwaru been included, an individual settlement including the original confiscation at Ihumātao would already have been concluded or sufficiently advanced to have pre-empted a solution to Ihumātao either through a cash settlement, willing seller willing buyer mechanism or a Crown, Council, mana whenua accord or partnership.

HASHAA

Overlapping the timespan of the Tāmaki collective process, National’s Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act (2013) (HASHAA) aimed to establish Special Housing Areas (SHA) to increase the construction of affordable homes. Already left outside of the Tāmaki Collective Settlement, and for that reason without a sufficiently mandated body, Te Ahiwaru were further marginalised by a non-consultative HASHAA over-riding legislated provisions for good faith consultation with Māori in place since the State Owned Enterprise Act (1988).

First proposed by Fletcher Residential in November 2013, eight months later the Auckland Council and the National government had designated the Fletcher project as SHA62 before consultation had occurred with the Te Ahiwaru Ihumātao community. Te Ahiwaru did not learn what was proposed until early 2015. By then it was a fait accompli to which they were invited to add tokenistic trinkets of culture in exchange for a buffer zone they could do nothing with and 40 houses they might never own or be able to hold long term.

The irony is that the HASHAA legislation is now falling apart. Wellington City Council has effectively canned nine projects. Councillors in Auckland and Wellington have said that the National government bullied them into the legislation, house prices have been higher than in many non-special housing areas, HASHAA has undermined local codes and derailed consultation and participation by the community which is the foundation of good local government. Labour will not extend HASHAA beyond September 16 this year, yet in a paradox of fate HASHAA continues to hold Te Ahiwaru to ransom.

whanau

Photo supplied

National’s mismanagement also allowed Te Kawerau ā Maki, a West Auckland iwi with descendants living at Ihumātao, to compromise their antecedent Te Ahiwaru as mana whenua. The tension between the two led to the formation of Soul, the action at Ihumātao and the recent events we all know.

Finlayson also said he did not think the land had been confiscated. This is just ignorant. As the Minister overseeing the Tāmaki negotiations, he should have been familiar with the Sim Royal Commission Report (1928) and the Waitangi Tribunal Manukau Report (1985). The Sim report condemned the confiscation at Ihumātao as an ‘excessive’ and ‘grave injustice’ among the worse in the country because the Crown had forced the Ihumātao community into rebellion. The Manukau Report went further stating in the firmest terms that none at Ihumātao were in rebellion, rather the Crown without justification or provocation had attacked them in direct violation of Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi

Tainui - Waikato

National cannot expect Tainui-Waikato to front the cash. Pākehā New Zealand has benefitted by countless billions of dollars from the Tainui - Waikato and South Auckland confiscations.

The Crown has a duty to contribute to a purchase if that is the solution at Ihumātao.

The Crown also has a duty because in 1995, Tainui were paid less than $200 per hectare in cash compensation for 360 000 hectares of confiscated lands when the average rural price was $5000 per hectare and that for urban areas much higher again. It is morally unjust therefore to expect them to both fix the Crown’s mess and pay the current market value of $36 million for Ihumātao.

Finlayson is right, Tainui-Waikato have very prudently rebuilt their capital base. He would also understand that it is fundamentally good business acumen to not take fiscal responsibility for the bungling of fools on much larger budgets who have already ripped you off.

Finlayson also suggested Ihumātao be turned into a golf course. Given the number of wāhi tapu and burial caves one suspects that many putters might not make it back to the club house.
 

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