10 reasons why the government should return the Waitara lands



Taranaki are anticipated to host subsequent yr’s nationwide commemoration of the New Zealand Wars and but the Waitara land-grab that sparked the Taranaki Wars has nonetheless but to be absolutely resolved.

The primary nationwide commemoration of the New Zealand Wars (Te Pūtake o te Riri) was held final month in Northland. The gathering took over the small Bay of Islands city of Kororāreka/Russell because it remembered the native battles that had taken place there simply 5 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

For a lot of contributors, it was a possibility to awaken to a historical past that had lengthy been marginalised within the public consciousness. For too many New Zealanders, the truth that our nation was additionally based on battle and land confiscations has been a shameful historical past that had been lacking from our training.

Because the inaugural commemorations wound up, the job of internet hosting subsequent yr’s occasion was ceremonially handed over to elders from Taranaki. Which means the subsequent nationwide commemorations will likely be held in Waitara – the place the conflicts over the disputed sale of what was often known as the Pekapeka Block exploded into the Taranaki Wars (1860-1866).

The 2019 commemorations will entice nationwide significance not simply due to this tough historical past however as a result of the Waitara land-grab that sparked the Taranaki Wars has nonetheless but to be absolutely resolved.

Parliament remains to be sitting on the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Invoice, which it retains delaying earlier than it reaches its third studying.

This Invoice is a contentious piece of laws that hopes to resolve the way forward for the Waitara leasehold or “endowment” lands, which had been initially confiscated by laws after the Taranaki Wars.

To the dismay of many Taranaki residents – Māori and Pākehā – the native district council remains to be searching for to promote the lands that it holds, somewhat than return them to the unique house owners – the hapū of Manukorihi and Ōtaraua.

Many individuals are asking: How is it, after the 40 years of apologies and settlements following the Māori Land March, that councils and our authorities are nonetheless in a position to do that? What is going to it take, now 178 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, for our present politicians and neighborhood leaders to do the best factor?

Listed below are ten the explanation why the Waitara Lands ought to be returned:

1. The lands had been stolen. They need to be handed again as merely as doable.

Of their submission in opposition to the Waitara Lands Invoice, the Manukorihi Hapū o Waitara mentioned: “We oppose the [Bill] in its entirety and would love all of the Lands be returned to the Hapu o Whaitara for free of charge and with no strings hooked up … Our major concern in relation to the Invoice: The land was stolen: Hoki Mai Te Whenua, due to this fact return it. At a current hui, a query was requested, what do you do whenever you steal one thing? A toddler replied, ‘You give it again’.”

2. There have been quite a few inquiries into the Waitara Lands and Pekapeka Block and all have dominated on the aspect of the tangata whenua.

The truth that the Waitara lands had been illegally confiscated just isn’t in dispute. Sir George Gray mentioned so after his evaluate in 1863. The Sim Fee mentioned so in 1927. The Waitangi Tribunal mentioned so in 1986.

On the Māori Affairs Choose committee listening to at Owae Marae in Waitara in February 2017, the chairman Chester Borrows confirmed to the entire gathering that the unlawful nature of the land confiscations was not in dispute. (The New Plymouth District Council Mayor and Taranaki Regional Council chairman, who had been each current, nodded in settlement).

Former Prime Minister and Legal professional-Normal Sir Geoffrey Palmer has mentioned concerning the Pekapeka Block: “… There could be little land of better cultural significance than the land beneath dialogue right here.”

And but the authorized consensus across the standing and significance of those lands has not but resulted of their return.

three. The Crown and Taranaki Councils have rather more to achieve than to lose by doing the best factor and returning the Waitara lands to their unique house owners.

The advantages when it comes to peace and reconciliation to the communities of Taranaki will likely be felt for generations to return.

This final result was highlighted by the late Sir Paul Reeves, when he spoke to the New Plymouth District Council on the problem of the Waitara leasehold lands again in 2003. The previous Governor Normal mentioned that, as an Anglican Bishop, he had been in the identical place because the council, having to resolve whether or not sizeable and useful tracts of land ought to be returned to Maori.

Reeves mentioned that “in every occasion we deliberated very rigorously, we mentioned “sure”, and we gained rather more than we might ever have misplaced. Above all, we developed good working relationships [with Māori] that proceed to at the present time…”

four. The Waitara Lands had been unnoticed of the Te Āti Awa settlement.

There’s a widespread view that compensation for the Waitara leasehold lands was included inside the Te Āti Awa settlement. That is although the hapū of Manukorihi and Ōtaraua opposed this, and the small print of the compensation proceed to be disputed by the surviving negotiators.

Within the remaining studying of the Te Atiawa Claims Settlement Invoice in November 2016, former Minister of Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson mentioned, “I acknowledge that one of many feelings being felt by someTe Āti Awa at the moment will likely be frustration across the situation of the Waitara Endowment lands. I hope this will likely be a technology that reaches some decision over this land…”

When the Home got here to contemplate the Waitara Lands Invoice in 2017, Chris Finlayson acknowledged that the Waitara situation had been left unresolved: “There was one situation that hung over me like a cloud and it was the Waitara lands.”

5. The present Invoice is an enchancment, however it’s nonetheless absurd.

The present Invoice has had two readings in Parliament in 2017, and it has been massively re-written within the course of. The important thing shift between the primary and second readings has been the popularity of the hapū of Manukorihi and Ōtaraua.

The Invoice nonetheless falls wanting returning the lands to those house owners however gives to make use of the proceeds of land gross sales for a wide range of functions – some being returned to the hapū, some used for functions of taking care of the Waitara river, and a few for a common Waitara neighborhood fund.

The extent of complexity round these totally different preparations is at instances absurd. And at no time have the Crown or the council negotiators critically drawn up choices for delivering what the unique house owners have all the time requested: the return of their lands for free of charge and with no strings hooked up. 

6. The present leaseholders haven’t any rights to the lands that they’re on. They’re leaseholders.

The present model of the Invoice seeks to allow the sale of the lands to the leaseholders, somewhat than return it to the unique house owners. That is regardless of leaseholders by legislation having no actual rights over the lands, apart from a perpetual renewal of their leases. That is additionally although the leaseholders in 2011 had their authorized case in opposition to the New Plymouth District Council thrown out of the Courtroom of Enchantment.

7. The assorted Taranaki councils bought possession of those lands at no cost, and the broader neighborhood has already vastly benefited – by at the least $60 million in lease funds revamped 150 years.

Within the communications the New Plymouth District Council have achieved concerning the Invoice, they haven’t spoken concerning the profit the neighborhood have already obtained from the lands. Along with the council receiving the land at no cost from the Crown, the council has obtained lease funds over 150 years, off the again of the lands of the hapū. The estimate of those figures was reconstructed from information solely launched by New Plymouth District Council after Native Authorities Official Data Act requests.

eight. The lack of land has had intergenerational penalties for native Māori.

In October 2016, members of the Taranaki Māori Girls’s community led a hīkoi, referred to as Peace for Pekapeka, by way of the streets of Waitara. This sacred stroll included fifth and sixth technology descendants of the unique house owners who had been nonetheless calling for his or her lands to be returned.

The hikoi concluded at Owae Marae the place the Director of Te Kotahi Analysis Institute on the College of Waikato, Dr Leonie Pihama, spoke concerning the inter-generational trauma that had adopted the Taranaki wars, and the theft of tribal property. She mentioned points like an absence of cultural id, poverty or drug and alcohol habit had been all associated to the long-term affect of colonisation and the lack of a cultural connection to the land:

“The hikoi is mostly a reminder that peace has not likely been recognized in Waitara for the reason that unique confiscation of the lands …”

9. The brand new Minister of Justice and the brand new Minister of Native Authorities are the best folks to deal with these challenges.

The Labour-led authorities must seize this chance to settle this previous dispute and resolve it in a method that may be a defining act of justice, peace-making and reconciliation. And so they have two cupboard ministers who’re completely positioned to carry braveness and a contemporary perspective to those issues.

Former Labour Social gathering chief Andrew Little is the brand new Minister of Justice and the Minister of Treaty Settlements. His long-time colleague Nanaia Mahuta is the brand new Minister of Native Authorities and the Minister of Māori Growth.

Andrew Little is a son of New Plymouth, and he has the humility to recognise that, as with different native Pākehā, he has been the heir of ignorance and cultural amnesia. Little says that although he had his youth in Taranaki, he solely realized about its troubled historical past after he left the province. Talking to the ultimate studying of the Taranaki Iwi Claims Settlement Invoice, in March 2016, he mentioned:

“Once I take a look at the mass confiscation, the raupatu; after I take a look at the brutal therapy of those that stood up in opposition to an unjust Crown and unjust colonial forces, not simply being incarcerated, however being incarcerated a whole bunch of miles from their folks and from their rohe; and after I take a look at the therapy of Te Whiti o Rongomai, who preached and lived by a creed of peace and peaceable motion … it’s a matter of superior marvel that the spirit that he represented and the sense of justice that has been pursued has introduced us to this place.”

Nanaia Mahuta is from the Waikato and Maniapoto iwi who despatched many warriors to help Taranaki Māori through the wars of the 1860s. Talking within the Home on the remaining studying of the Te Atiawa Claims Settlement Invoice, she spoke of her deep connection, and of the ethical obligations that had been past the “transactional strategy” of coping with excellent points such because the Pekapeka Block:

“I say … that if we might do one thing extra and higher to resolve this vital excellent situation of Pekapeka, which I imagine is the primary little bit of raupatu land that occurred in our nation, then we might be doing the nation a favour. We’d be doing the mokopuna of Te Atiawa a favour … We’d be doing all of our nation a favour, as a result of we might have stood up, braved the storm, discovered a unique method, and we might have had the ethical fortitude and braveness to do it, as a result of we knew it was proper. If there was one time, that is it, and I say we should always do it.”

10. Our younger folks need to commemorate not simply our tough historical past, however the way it has led to a extra simply and equitable nation.

There isn’t a younger New Zealander that appears on the historical past of the New Zealand Wars and is pleased with what has taken place. They definitely don’t need to flip as much as a commemoration of those wars when there are such apparent excellent points nonetheless to be resolved.

The decision to determine a Nationwide Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars got here from college students from Otorohanga Faculty, led by Waimarama Anderson and Leah Bell, who collected hundreds of signatures and introduced their petition to parliament in 2015.

These younger folks need to guarantee that we don’t go our unresolved historic burdens on to yet one more technology.

In 2018, allow us to carry peace to the Waitara Lands. And let our nationwide leaders come to a province of peace once they arrive in Taranaki subsequent yr to hitch us in commemorating our tough historical past … and what we’ve got achieved about it.



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