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Address to Ngä Hapu o Ngäruahine Iwi inc
Sunday 30 October 2011, 11am
Kanihi Pa, Hastings Road, Okaiawa
It is a great pleasure to be here at Kanihi Pa at such a critical juncture in your history; in our history.
Just over a year ago, you were setting off on a pathway to sign the Terms of Negotiations, a significant milestone that marks the second phase towards settlement.
And I want to take some time to acknowledge your courage, and your steadfast resolve to develop yourself as a people; to take hold of your future with both hands and steadily move forward.
It has been a big year for us all.
At year’s end last December, the Waitangi Tribunal’s report into WAI 796 was released.
A particular key in that report was that Ngaruahine sought to have much greater involvement in the Crown’s management of petroleum. You told the Tribunal you are not against development, but you are against exclusion.
And I want to quote from that report one of views shared by your executive chair, Daisy Noble.
‘Our interests have been relegated to being merely ‘letter recipients’. That is all consultation has meant for us. We have no determinative role in decision-making; we are not even privy to the decision-making process. We are like a third party. In practice, having a Treaty interest has been no more effectual for us than if we were just a general stakeholder.’
Another equally strong submission came from Mere Brooks:
'It just feels like all we do is write letters of protest and nothing ever changes. Until Māori are brought into the decision making process, then the odds are always stacked against us. It is hard to get councils and big companies who often have little or no understanding of tikanga Māori to come to see things from our point of view. You just end up feeling like you are wasting your breath.’
I think it’s really important that we remind ourselves of the challenges we face and that we prepare ourselves fully to ensure that not only will justice be done, but it must be seen to be done.
We must put our full energy to the task of identifying the flaws and failures; and then creating the settlement that will achieve a settlement that our grandchildren’s grandchildren can be proud of.
Sun Wu, a Chinese military strategist, had an approach to life that provides us with some fresh thinking around the settlement process:
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles;
if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one;
if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle.
It is about understanding all of the various levels in which government operates and thinking creatively how the settlement process can address any issues which arise.
In the Ngati Apa/Nga Wairiki settlement we placed priority on developing protocols with the Minister of Conservation, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister for the Environment.
We sought a springboard for the future that was firmly grounded in our whenua; in the restoration of our lands stretching from Motu Karaka south to Omarupako and inland to the upper Rangitikei.
We could achieve these gains because we know the issues that were impacting on our people, the deficiencies and gaps that needed addressing.
That’s what I mean about knowing your enemies.
But of course the other vital part of Sun Wu’s strategy was in knowing yourself.
One of the really exciting parts of our settlement was the cultural redress package which gave birth to our aspirations around cultural revitalisation and cultural reconnection.
Our proposal was that there be provision made for the gifting of five papakainga properties and opportunity to implement a strategy for the revitalisation of our tikanga.
We also negotiated funding to compile a comprehensive historical record in respect of the transfer of twelve sites of significance.
I can’t emphasise enough has important the whole aspect of storytelling is to our collective momentum.
One of my friends, Robert Consedine, has shown the nation the significance of our stories in healing our history.
Unless we can all articulate everything that has happened to us, we will only ever hope for partial solutions. We have to understand the challenges, the grief, the anger, the resentment and how we can work our way through to a time of optimism.
This Government has made remarkable progress in achieving over 100 separate Treaty settlement milestones.
But we know the legislative process has not been working.
Between 1999 and 2008 Labour averaged just 1.6 deeds of settlement for each year they were in office – most in the final years when Dr Cullen was Minister. This slow progress destroyed momentum and delayed the completion of settlements, disadvantaging iwi economically and socially and prolonging the period of time we were stuck in grievance.
But over this last term of Government –as a result of a very committed Minister in Chris Finlayson – and through the constant and active pressure we in the Maori Party have placed on improving the process – there has been a significant advance.
Jamie Tuuta – the chair of Taranaki Iwi Claims leadership team last year suggested “in order to achieve more settlements there’s a need for iwi and the Crown to be flexible and consistent and to create fit for purpose solutions”.
And so I come back to the importance of this time.
A key section of our Maori Party policy commitment is that around treaty settlements and treaty justice. We want to increase claimant funding; and to quicken the pace of settlement by supporting more cognate bills.
We also want to promote rangatira-to-rangatira negotiation; both with the Crown but with other iwi and hapu.
We have to be creative and transparent about how we manage our relationships with each other; how we maintain inter-iwi unity; what opportunities are there for hapu rangatiratanga in an iwi settlement.
But at the same time we must be prepared to advise the Crown what a fit for purpose solution might look like for Ngaruahine.
And the promise the Maori Party makes to you - is that when you do come up with the radical changes that you think are required to improve the process we will be your strongest advocate.
Our message to ourselves is clear – we can have influence with integrity – which as you will know spells IWI.
Iwi can and must have influence in changing processes that do not enable our aspirations to be protected, safeguarded and realised. But the influence we can have in a parliamentary sense in taking up your issues – is only of value if it reflects the integrity of kaupapa Maori.
We know that we must face our past with courage to build our future together – and that Treaty Settlements are a key means of doing this.
But we also know that this is about doing it for ourselves – we cannot sit in line and wait around for a settlement to be achieved. We must be guided by our people, and motivated by the kaupapa that our ancestors before us have lived by and which provide a solid foundation for today.
It is not for me to tell you what Nga Hapu o Ngaruahine must, can, should do as you move forward.
This is your time – your concerns will inform the negotiating proposal you take to the table.
Your solutions may well shape a new direction for Treaty settlements for the nation.
And importantly, your own histories, your own stories will provide you with the inspiration and the wisdom to lead you forward.