Wai­tangi Tri­bunal hear­ings re­veal­ing

Kapiti News - - News -

On Tues­day, I had a timely glimpse into the abil­ity of the New Zealand psy­che to live in one place but have dif­fer­ent re­al­i­ties.

Most of us were un­aware that the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal was hear­ing sub­mis­sions in Ka¯ piti. The se­cond of the three-week ses­sions for lo­cal iwi claims was held at South­ward Car Mu­seum. The five-per­son panel con­sisted of Deputy Chief Jus­tice Caren Fox, Prof. Sir Ta­mati Reddy, Sir Dou­glas Kidd, Dr Grant Phillip­son, and Ta­nia Simp­son. The sub­mis­sions cov­ered the role and im­pact of lo­cal gov­ern­ment in the pro­gres­sive loss of Ma¯ ori land. A key pre­sen­ta­tion was a sub­mis­sion by Suzanne Wood­ley, a sub­stan­tial re­search pa­per un­der­pin­ning claims by Te Ati Awa and Nga¯ ti Awa Ki Ka¯ piti.

It may be use­ful to look at po­lit­i­cal power as ex­plained by po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist, Dr Steven Lukes, ti­tled The Three Faces of Power. The first, open face of power, re­lates to di­rect ex­er­cise of power where the de­ci­sion maker and the process is vis­i­ble. The se­cond, shaded face, is the sub­tle ex­er­cise where de­ci­sions are made within a com­plex sys­tem but the agenda lead­ing to it, and the con­text is set by those that wield this power. The third, hid­den face, is where the power is so in­sid­i­ous that it shapes peo­ple’s think­ing. Where you don’t know that de­ci­sions you make by ‘free choice’ has ac­tu­ally been shaped by ‘the sys­tem’. An easy ref­er­ence is the im­pact of so­phis­ti­cated ad­ver­tis­ing tech­niques.

Suzanne Wood­ley’s pa­per doc­u­ments the sys­tem­atic loss of Ma¯ ori land start­ing with the com­plex lo­cal au­thor­i­ties which had ju­ris­dic­tion over the tribal lands of Te Ati Awa/Nga¯ ti Awa ki Ka¯ piti. Up un­til 1989 these in­cluded high­way boards, road boards, county coun­cils, county town com­mit­tees, bor­ough coun­cils and dis­trict com­mu­nity coun­cils. The re­search ex­poses the lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion for lo­cal Ma¯ ori. Prior to 1989 only a sin­gle coun­cil­lor, Te Aputa Kauri, was elected to the Waikanae Bor­ough Coun­cil in 1971. This was due to the vot­ing sys­tem where the right to vote was de­nied Ma¯ ori landown­ers who had cul­tur­ally-de­fined mul­ti­ple own­er­ship and, fur­ther, the sys­tem was weighted to give mul­ti­ple votes to Eu­ro­pean landown­ers. The pa­per then out­lines the use of a rat­ing sys­tem where Ma¯ ori land was rated ir­re­spec­tive of whether the land was rev­enue pro­duc­ing or not, or whether own­ers were able to pay. Le­gal tools, like charg­ing or­ders and re­ceiver­ships, were used to re­cover rates even when landown­ers were not iden­ti­fied or no­ti­fied of the rates. From 1963, the use of the law changed from land taken for com­pul­sory leas­ing to vest­ings in court for com­pul­sory sale.

The re­search notes that un­der s109 of the Rat­ing Act 1925: “There was no pro­tec­tive mea­sures for the own­ers . . . no re­quire­ment to in­form all or any of the cur­rent own­ers of the pro­posed vest­ings

. . . or even to check to en­sure that rates had been cor­rectly levied on the cur­rent owner at the cor­rect ad­dress. Nor was there any re­quire­ment to en­sure that the own­ers re­ceived a fair price for their land at the cur­rent val­u­a­tion when the land was sold. There was no pro­vi­sion once the vest­ing or­der was made for sales to be halted if own­ers were lo­cated and un­der­took to pay the rates ar­rears. It was ac­knowl­edged by the Depart­ment of Ma¯ ori Af­fairs in 1967 that the whole ob­ject of the ex­er­cise was ‘ . . . in law, to get rates paid with­out any con­cerns for the wel­fare, or wishes or in­ter­ests of the former pro­pri­etors of these lands’. The aim in­stead was to re­coup rates for the lo­cal au­thor­ity.”

This hor­ror story of sys­tem­atic alien­ation of Ma¯ ori land in Ka¯ piti was de­liv­ered by lo­cal iwi to the learned mem­bers of the Tri­bunal. The irony is that Ka¯ piti, es­pe­cially Waikanae, is also the rest­ing place of an out­stand­ing Ma¯ ori leader. Born on Ka¯ piti Is­land, of Ma¯ ori and Eu­ro­pean parent­age, Wiremu Te Kakakura Parata was a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and Min­is­ter. He had gifted tribal land for de­vel­op­ment of Waikanae town­ship. It was his 1877 land­mark court case over Ma¯ ori land that led to Chief Jus­tice Sir James Pren­der­gast to de­clare the Treaty worth­less and a “sim­ple nul­lity”. Given the ac­tive his­tor­i­cal in­volve­ment of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in this sys­temic alien­ation it’s not clear whether lo­cal au­thor­i­ties can con­tinue to hold the po­si­tion that they are not re­spon­si­ble for Crown obli­ga­tions un­der the Treaty. The ev­i­dence and sub­mis­sions be­fore the Tri­bunal hear­ings in Ka¯ piti is likely to stim­u­late re­newed de­mands for jus­tice and resti­tu­tion.

PHOTO / JACK PEN­MAN

Stained glass win­dow at the St Luke’s Church al­tar. Left is Wi Parata Te Kakakura. Faith­ful ser­vant of God. Mid­dle St Luke. Right In mem­ory of Oc­tavi­ous Had­field. Maori mis­sion­ary in this dis­trict.

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