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Ngati too much? Government treaty payout rewards Ngati Toa for genocide.

No one is against compensation for genuine Treaty grievances, but is Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson going too far by approving a payout to a tribe that committed genocide and ethnic cleansing? Waitangi scholar DR JOHN ROBINSON says New Zealanders--both Maori and Pakeha--need to know what Ngati Toa really did and judge for themselves whether payment is justified

The years following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi were joyous for great numbers of Maori. The many decades of bloodshed, when intertribal wars killed around one-third of the population in an orgy of genocide and ethnic cleansing, came to an end. Slaves were absolutely delighted to be free at last, able to return home and live at peace, no longer facing the ever-present threat of marauding war parties come to kill, eat and enslave them, to steal and destroy their land. Previously productive land that had been deserted as survivors moved away from threatening neighbours was once again filled with everyday life.

From the 1820s and throughout the 1830s, Tamaki (the Auckland peninsula) and much of the land from Waitemata to Thames--fertile and previously heavily settled--was empty as the inhabitants had been killed, enslaved and driven away, and remnants were fearful to return. That was until the

Treaty and coming British government brought the setting for peace.

  "With threats such as these [fear of utu attacks by a number of
  tribes] hanging over the region, it was not until Tamaki became
  the site of the capital, with the concomitant prospect of the
  governor's peace and of enriching trade, that Ngati Whatua felt
  they could safely resettle many of their people back at Orakei."

There followed the great peacemaking of 1841-42. Surely those peace talks and the resettlement of the land is something to gladden our hearts and celebrate. The story was repeated across the country, as in Taranaki newly freed slaves returned from Waikato in 1841. Around Cook Strait the tattered remnants of conquered tribes started to put their lives back together under the protection of the colonial British government after the whirlwind had been extinguished.

Power, control and ownership had been brutish; the Maori word for property, taonga, was translated in 1820 by Hongi Hika as "property procured by the spear". (2) Many Maori had suffered and even some winners in the many battles (such as Tamati Waka Nene) recognised the suicidal damage being done and the need for a national government to provide law and order. The promise alone brought about great change, which was voluntary, carried out by Maori--there was little British force in those first years.

A few warriors wanted to hold to their powers and to continue the bloodshed and conquest, and now their descendents grieve over that loss of power and ask for an apology and compensation. Such a suggestion is absurd, obscene even. Yet it has been met with a more than sympathetic response. To hold on to power the National Party has dumped its policy for equality and taken up the divisive race-based Maori Party position in their coalition government. They are raiding the public purse in a number of truly remarkable and outrageous settlements, and none is more extreme than the Ngati Toa settlement currently before Parliament as part of the omnibus Te Tau Ihu Claims Settlement Bill.

While the assertion of British law was a great good done to those slaves, it is now regarded as a wrong by the descendents of the slave-takers, who complain and seek restitution for loss of the freedom to raid other tribes. It is claimed that "the Crown's actions were in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi in respect of the Crown's unjustified strategy and campaign (both military and political) to crush Ngati Toa Rangatira resistance to land alienation and to Crown policies, to weaken the influence of Ngati Toa Rangatira and their chiefs, and cause division within the iwi" and "the Crown pursued a deliberate policy of intervention which had the effect and purpose of undermining the traditional leadership of the iwi, the disruption of traditional balances of power in the area, and the dislocation of social relationships between iwi". (3)

The Deed of Settlement includes considerable payments for those actions and the Bill includes an apology for the supposed wrongs of government.

  "The Crown unreservedly apologises for the breaches of
  Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles
  which have hurt and caused prejudice to Ngati Toa Rangatira.
  The Crown is deeply sorry for its actions that intentionally
  undermined the mana and rangatiratanga of leading Ngati
  Toa Rangatira chiefs. In particular the Crown apologises for
  its indefinite detention of Te Rauparaha, and deeply regrets
  that it has failed, until now, to acknowledge this injustice in
  an appropriate manner." (4)

The historical account, only belatedly written after the settlement process was completed, names features of Ngati Toa sovereignty and chiefly autonomy (rangatiratanga) and gives some idea of how such control came about, and just what were "traditional balances of power in the area", including "social relationships between iwi".

Claims are based on the situation as it was in 1840, when "Ngati Toa Rangatira had established a powerful position in the Cook Strait region with settlements in the lower North Island and upper South Island (Te Tau Ihu)." (5) It is important to consider the manner in which that "powerful position" had been established, as recompense for the loss of that position implies acceptance of the manner in which it was established.

  "In the early years of the nineteenth century, ... a taua ...
  continued south [from Taranaki], plundering as it went. ... Kapiti
  Island was taken from its inhabitants by Te Peehi Kupe. Later in
  1824, Ngati Toa Rangatira and its allies won an important victory
  over other tribes in the Kapiti district. ... Six heke, or
  campaigns following a preliminary reconnaissance took place
  during the period of 1827-1832. These included an attack on
  Kaikoura led by Te Rauparaha and on Kaiapoi when Te Pehi Kupe of
  Ngati Toa Rangatira was killed. In 1830 there was a further
  sea-borne attack on Banks' Peninsula and a major attack on Te
  Hoiere, Rangitoto, Whakapuaka and places further to the west. A
  further campaign in the summer of 1831-2 involved a three-pronged
  attack on Kaiapoi planned by Te Rauparaha, with three separate
  taua converging on Kaiapoi. ... The victory at Waiorua [1824] also
  enabled Ngati Toa Rangatira and allied tribes to establish
  themselves and undertake further migrations from the Kapiti Coast
  to settle in Whanganui a Tara (Wellington), Te Tau Ihu (northern
  South Island) and Te Waipounamu. ... The taua into the East Coast
  set the foundation for Ngati Toa Rangatira settlement and
  development of ahi kaa rights to some areas, and latent rights to
  further land as identified by the Waitangi Tribunal." (6)

Any "position" was gained by attacking, killing, enslaving and driving out the inhabitants of those places. A full and honest historical account would include reference to those deaths. Many of the war parties were led by Te Rauparaha, whose son has described some of the major attacks. (7) While the casualties are only approximate estimates, they do show the scale of the actions.

At Mokau: "The Ngati Tama cut up the bodies of the slain and carried them to their pa to be cooked, as was the Maori custom."

At Wairau: "About 500 were killed in the battle, four pas were captured and a thousand women and children were slain."

At Rangitikei: "Three pas were captured and 200 men and 800 women and children were killed, while others were brought to Kapiti for slaves."

At Akaroa: "Two hundred men were killed and perhaps 300 or 400 women and children; many were also brought aboard the ships as slaves. Heaps of men were left dead ashore."

At Whakapuaka, near Kaiawa: "Some of the men were spared but about 200 were killed, as well as 600 women and children. The killing continued as they moved along the coast to Whakatu (Nelson), Waimea, Motueka and Taitapu. The people were decimated, with the remnants being left as slaves..."

At Kaikoura: "What a wonderful war party! Everywhere lay dead Ngai Tahu. About 500 men were killed and 800 women and children."

At Wanganui: "The pa was captured and its people killed as they tried to escape. The survivors slept out in the bush and were hunted and killed by the war party for the next four days. Probably a thousand people were killed and many were taken prisoner."

The killing in my neighbourhood at Taputeranga does not even warrant a mention, being just one of a multitude of attacks on Maori across the whole area. In these accounts the focus is on chiefs while slaves, women and children are numbers only, of lesser account in Maori culture. Ngati Toa wish to inherit grievance but refuse to acknowledge the inheritance of responsibility for that widespread mayhem.

The scale of the killing should be noted, with 1,600 killed in battle and twice that number (3,500) of women and children slain in these battles alone. These were acts of terrorism, of genocide and of ethnic cleansing. Back in those times, this warfare might be considered as just part of Maori tikanga, but it is monstrous that any position based on such war crimes should be accepted now--in 2013-as justification for position whose removal demands compensation.

The Bill reference is that victory enabled Ngati Toa Rangatira and allied tribes to "establish" themselves, and that a taua "set the foundation" for Ngati Toa Rangatira settlement. These are all rather mundane words for a campaign involving mass killing, acts of terrorism and ethnic cleansing on a huge scale.

Instead of recognising, and lamenting, this bloody history, the Bill offers a wide range of special powers to Ngati Toa: holding reserves in fee simple, granting of governance arrangements, and memoranda of understanding with eleven councils giving special involvement with planning and control of large swathes of the coast. There is also a considerable power to insist on their nga paihau (the redress instrument which has referred to as an 'overlay classification' in other settlements), which would permit Ngati Toa to insist on their cultural, spiritual and historical association with what they consider to be sites of significance. These many provisions give this small group an enormous power over public lands. And seas as well, as "The Crown acknowledges Ngati Toa Rangatira's role as a kaitiaki over the coastal marine area" (the poutiaki area) including Cook Strait, Porirua Harbour, Port Underwood and Pelorus Sound. (8)

Money settlements include a financial and commercial redress amount of $40,000,000 and "$10,000,000 in recognition of the Crown's actions in undermining the maritime domain of Ngati Toa Rangatira in the Cook Strait region in the nineteenth century". (9) A 2009 letter offering a settlement had described this 'maritime domain' as a 'maritime empire'. Whatever you call it, the claim was that Ngati Toa once had effective control over the Strait and was thus able to move about and attack other tribes. To lose that freedom to ravage is now considered a wrong.

The Waitangi Tribunal is a one-sided champion of extravagant Maori claims but even they found this one step too far. Here 'overlordship' is used rather than 'domain' or 'empire', but the message is clear.

  "We consider the idea of a sustained 'overlordship' to have
  little basis in Maori customary thinking ... the idea of an
  overlordship is now seen as the legacy of an imperial
  rhetoric." (10)

It is simply unbelievable that now, 173 years after the Treaty was signed, $10 million may be given with an apology for asserting the law and preventing further bloody raids, eventually bringing peace to the region around Cook Strait. Such action has only been possible in a shonky process, carried out by one Minister, Finlayson, who has worked previously as a lawyer for Maori complainants, talking in private to a family group who are out to take whatever he will give.

Another prominent complaint noted in the Bill concerns the capture and detention of Te Rauparaha--"the Crown's seizure of Te Rauparaha in 1846, and his subsequent detention were in serious breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles". (11) Te Rauparaha was a renowned, experienced and deceitful warrior chief who had led many of the murderous attacks prior to 1840 and was a leader of the group that executed eleven defenceless captives in 1843 at Wairau. Although he had twice signed the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Rauparaha had no intention of keeping his word, as he made clear shortly after the killing at Wairau. He was intent on continuing his old ways.

  He said, "I am the king of all this land. I have lived a king,
  and I will die a king, with my meri in my hand. Go! I am no
  beggar! Rauperaha will fight the soldiers of the Queen when
  they come, with his own hands and his own name. ... As for
  Wikitoria, never mind that--woman ... Who is she that she
  should send her books and her constables after me? What
  have I to do with her? She may be Queen over the White
  people; I am the king of the Maori! If she chooses to have
  war, let her send me word, and I will stand up against her

Wakefield then reported "I asked him, whether he had not signed a paper to say the Queen was his chief, when Mr Williams brought it to him, and also on board the man-of-war? He turned round sharply and said, 'Yes! what of that? They gave me a blanket for it. I am still a chief just the same. I am Rauparaha! Give me another blanket to-morrow, and I will sign it again. What is there in writing?'

Thus one of the most powerful of the 512 chiefs spoke of the much vaunted Treaty of Waitangi, which he had signed twice according to all accounts." (12)

In 1846, when fighting had broken out in the Hutt, Governor Grey received a report of a letter bearing Te Rauparaha's signature, addressed to the inland and up-river natives of the Wanganui tribes, urgently inviting them to join their chief Te Mamaku and his ally Te Rangihaeata in the campaign against the European settlements. Grey then ordered the capture of Te Rauparaha--surely a sensible action as the rebellion threatened to spread. Had Te Rauparaha been put on trial, he would have had worse conditions and be held in a common gaol. Instead, Te Rauparaha was well treated; he was more a guest than a prisoner. Te Rauparaha understood this, and had no complaint with his captivity.

Te Rauparaha had played a part in the local history of Island Bay, where I live, in the battles of 1821 and 1827 that took place on the island, Taputeranga. The people who had been living here for centuries (Ngati Ira) were attacked and driven away by marauding war parties from Taranaki. That island too, with its bloody history, is to be given to Ngati Toa--another reward for past killing.

Settlements such as this give credence to the extreme grievances now voiced by so many Maori speakers, who believe that every perceived wrong is a consequence of a wicked colonisation by an evil people who came to harm their ancestors and steal their land. The great good is forgotten as the country is split into racial groups with unequal rights in a push towards a Bantustan nation. The absurdity of payments and apologies for bringing peace to a troubled land must end.


(1.) Stone R C J 2001. From Tamaki-makau-rau to Auckland. pages 181-182

(2.) Kendall T 1820. A grammar and vocabulary of the language of New Zealand. page 207

(3.) Ngati Toa Deed of Settlement sections 1.39.1 and 1.44.1

(4.) Te Tau Ihu Claims Settlement Bill, clause 426 (2)

(5.) Te Tau Ihu Claims Settlement Bill, clause 424 (1)

(6.) Ngati Toa Deed of Settlement sections 1.5, 1.12, 1.13, 1.17 and 1.18

(7.) Butler P (ed) 1980. Life and times of Te Rauparaha. Written by his son, Tamihana Te Rauparaha.

(8.) Ngati Toa Deed of Settlement section 5.23

(9.) Ngati Toa Deed of Settlement sections 6.1.1 and 6.1.2

(10.) Robinson J L 2011. The corruption of New Zealand democracy; a Treaty overview. quoting Waitangi Tribunal 2008

(11.) Ngati Toa Deed of Settlement section 1.39.2

(12.) Wakefield E 1845. Adventures in New Zealand, from 1839 to 1844, with some account of the beginning of British colonization of the islands, pages 334-335, 374-375, 378-379. As quoted in Butler 1980, Life and times of Te Rauparaha, pages 83-84.
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Publication:Investigate HERS
Date:Aug 1, 2013
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