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Sharples: Manfield Park Bill

Dr Pita Sharples; Co-leader Maori Party

Wednesday 7 December 2005

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to this Bill because I am aware of a current Waitangi Tribunal Claims in relation to the Kawakawa Block - the claim for and on behalf of Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga ; WAI 113.

In 1989, Ngati Raukawa lodged a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal regarding Lake Koputara. This claim alleges breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi regarding environmental degradation, loss of fisheries and loss of access.

There is also another claim relating to the tribal area of Ngati Kauwhata ki te Tonga, submitted in the context of 'surplus Crown and Local Government Lands'.

I think all members in this House need to be cautious of, and respectful to situations in which Treaty of Waitangi claims are in place.

We need to consider what opportunity mana whenua have had to address and resolve their claims through the Waitangi Tribunal before any further decisions are made about Manfeild Park.

Further questions also need to be raised about the nature of whether the land at Manfeild Park is indeed in private ownership.

As members of this House will know, private land is not generally available for use in Treaty settlements.

Claimants and owners of private land are of course free to come to their own arrangements, however the Crown does not consider it appropriate for it to play a role in such a transaction.

I believe we need to ask some hard questions about ownership, about the history of land alienation, of the basis for land transfer, before we can even begin, today, to contemplate the issues affecting the Manfeild Park Trust.

We need to also understand the history, the utility, the management of Maori land - and our experience of land development.

Such an opportunity can only occur through robust consultation with mana whenua, in this case Ngati Kauwhata, before significant decisions are made about ancestral land, resources and the subsequent well-being of the people.

Mr Speaker, mana whenua invest great meaning in the importance of ukaipo, turangawaewae, takiwa and rohe. These are traditional names for our relationship to the land.

Twenty five years ago, the Legislative Review Committee of the New Zealand Maori Council issued a statement which speaks of the importance and relevance of land to Maori: "Maori land has several cultural connotations for us. It provides us with a sense of identity, belonging, and continuity.

"It is proof of our continued existence not only as people, but as tangata whenua. It is proof of our tribal and kin group ties....It is proof of our link with the ancestors of our past, and with the generation yet to come. It is an assurance that we shall forever exist as a people, for as long as the land shall last." Mr Speaker, to Maori, the Land is our Mother. Our whenua is the afterbirth; and is absolutely central to our sense of identity.

It explains why we are determined, and why we have the passion, to maintain our connections between tangata whenua, atua, tïpuna; between people, land, spirituality, and our ancestors and history. The significance of whenua is core to our culture, to our mana, to our belief system, to our being. The land is both history and our future. In this matter then, the question one keeps returning to is this question of history. Whose history preserves the value of the whenua on which the Manfeild Park Trust has come to rely?

Most New Zealanders would know that the Manfeild Autocourse is one of New Zealand's premier motorsport venues.

How many would know it is also part of the KawaKawa block last surveyed in the 1800s.

The history of the Kawakawa block is an interesting one - worthy of further discussion.

>From the accounts we have received, earlier last century two Pakeha farmers raised a bank loan from the BNZ to improve the land on the Kawakawa Block.

However, these two farmers encountered financial problems and so the bank moved in to take the land to cover their debt.

Since that time, the land has been subject to a number of private sales, with ownership now claimed by the three parties named in this Bill.

Nearly 75 years ago, in 1932, a petition was brought here to Parliament by tribal elders outlining the alienation and unlawful taking of their land, known as the Kawakawa Block, in which Manfeild Park is situated.

However due to a series of mishaps, this petition was never tabled in Parliament.

The building in which this petition was housed, burnt down with all the documents being lost.

What should not be lost is the memory that Ngati Kauwhata hold of that time.

While the fire may have destroyed the petition, its flames did not destroy the oral histories passed down to their descendants today.

This Parliament has a responsibility to consider that there are others who have a claim to the land.

We must not let the efforts of those who petitioned this very Parliament last century, to be seen to have been in vain by those who petition this very Parliament in 2005.

This Bill is based on the post-colonial premise that ownership has only been vested in three separate entities: the Manawatu District Council; the Feilding, Industrial Agricultural and Pastoral Association; and the Manawatu Car Club Incorporated.

This is a view of history which is different to the view I articulated earlier.

We need to be able to recognise that in Aotearoa a history existed before the arrival of Abel Tasman.

In fact, 1000 years of history.

As we say,

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitu te whenua.

The people may come and go, but the land will remain for ever in the memories and the minds of the people.

The tribal elders who were on their way here in 1932 are now represented in their descendants who have lodged the claim before the Waitangi Tribunal.

These descendants are truly the living faces of their ancestors.

Nga kanohi ora o ratou kua mene ki te po.

It is for this reason, that the Maori Party can not support the Manfeild Park Bill 2005.

No reira, tena tatou.


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