Monday, August 10, 2009
Paul Majurey: Two-way Crown view adds to Treaty delay
Crown officials have been dogged by wide-ranging criticism of their Auckland negotiations with Ngati Whatua since they began in 2003. But, proving there is no monopoly on ineptitude, some Hauraki Maori Trust Board representatives have rejected a Crown offer to urgently start, and fund, long-awaited Treaty negotiations with the Marutuahu and other Pare Hauraki tribes. The rohe (customary area) of the Marutuahu and other Pare Hauraki tribes encompasses about 810,000ha between Matakana Island near Tauranga in the south to Matakana near Leigh in the north. This is the ancestral home of more than 15,000 people, nearly 80 per cent of whom belong to the Marutuahu iwi of Ngati Maru, Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Tamatera and Ngati Paoa. The other related iwi of Pare Hauraki descend from various waka. The Waitangi Tribunal has added: "The traditional history of Hauraki is dominated by the invasion and settlement of much of the region by iwi collectively known as Marutuahu ... the Marutuahu 'empire' was largely maritime-based." These tribes have experienced two very different Crown images in recent years. Its benign face belongs to the Office of Treaty Settlements team managing the Treaty claims of the Marutuahu and other Pare Hauraki tribes. It methodically laid a platform for the offer to urgently commit Crown resources and ministerial priority to negotiate a comprehensive Treaty settlement The Crown recently advised the Waitangi Tribunal of "the two main representative bodies that have been the focus of Office of Treaty Settlements' work in the Hauraki district - the Hauraki Maori Trust Board and the Marutuahu Working Group." The Crown's only condition for progressing this Treaty settlement process is that both groups agree to work together during negotiations. Most on the Hauraki board won't; all the Marutuahu Working Group will, having received an overwhelming mandate to represent the four Marutuahu tribes along with Te Patukirikiri and Tumutumu of Pare Hauraki. The rationale for a joint approach is underscored by the Crown's recent decision to withdraw its mandate recognition of the governance body for the Te Ati Awa because of "infighting". To regain mandate recognition and recommence the settlement process, the people of Te Ati Awa - whose rohe includes areas of Taranaki - will need to go back over some old ground. The Crown's malevolent face is the Office of Treaty Settlements' group behind the decision to offer exclusive rights (to Ngati Whatua) for the Crown's cultural and commercial assets in central Auckland and the Devonport naval housing portfolio - this despite the recorded customary interests of the four Marutuahu iwi throughout the Auckland isthmus and North Shore. It was this type of inexplicable Crown favouritism which prompted the recent Waitangi Tribunal inquiry hearing. The report from that is expected to be published in early May and may lead to the Crown having to dump its controversy-prone Treaty negotiations policy and practice. Janus-like, the Crown projects itself in opposing directions. Its misconceived decision to pick a winner may see the Ngati Whatua deal carted back to the repair shop. Conversely, the Crown's commitment to a joint iwi approach as a bridge to urgent negotiations has exposed those few Hauraki board representatives who covet a monopoly on power ahead of an inclusive and enduring Treaty settlement for a landless people A summary of the Hauraki negotiations impasse shows:* 2005: The Marutuahu Group and Hauraki board hold widespread mandating hui as most people of Marutuahu and Pare Hauraki descent live in urban centres between Auckland and Wellington. The two groups subsequently file applications to have their negotiations mandates recognised by the Crown (a required precursor to Treaty negotiations). * June 2006: The Waitangi Tribunal releases its Hauraki Report confirming significant Treaty breaches by the Crown against the Marutuahu and other Pare Hauraki tribes. The common denominator for its various findings is the systematic acquisition of land by the Crown, including via raupatu, which led the Tribunal to confirm: "The fact that Hauraki Maori have lost more of their land than most iwi [and] it was not only that [they] lost nearly all their land. It was the manner of losing it that divided and pauperised them." * October 2006: The Treaty Minister and Maori Affairs Minister decline the separate Marutuahu Group and Hauraki Board mandate applications, instead foreshadowing the call for a joint approach. As the ministers consider recognising two separate mandates could worsen internal relationships, they recommend "further steps should be taken to promote co-operation and unity among the claimant groups". * February 2007: The Marutuahu Group and Hauraki Board meet with the ministers and officials. While Marutuahu agree to work together with the Hauraki Board, some board representatives declare the Crown must negotiate with it alone. The ministers refuse, however, to overturn their October decision. The Hauraki Board's retort following the year-long Landcorp deferral on the sale of the Whenuakite Station was to seek a comprehensive remedies hearing before the Waitangi Tribunal. The board hoped this would force the Crown to negotiate solely with it. However, the Tribunal rejected the Hauraki Board's application mainly because of Office of Treaty Settlement evidence confirming the Crown's promise of funded, urgent negotiations with both groups. Wanting to break the impasse, some Hauraki Board representatives moved resolutions at a recent meeting to work together with the Marutuahu Group, but the motion was defeated by three votes. While a handful of Hauraki Board representatives try to stare down the Crown away from its joint approach, the Marutuahu and other Pare Hauraki tribes are prevented from even starting negotiations on the five-year-plus road to a Treaty settlement. While this stasis remains locked in at the behest of a few, the landlessness continues, the opportunity costs escalate - from deferred transfer of settlement assets - and the Crown stands ready to send these claims to the back of the queue. * Paul F. Majurey is a lawyer who belongs to all the Marutuahu tribes and represents them in both the Tamaki Makaurau Inquiry and Hauraki Treaty mandate negotiations.