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State of the Nation Address Te Ururoa Flavell

State of the Nation Address Te Ururoa Flavell; Member of Parliament for Waiariki Tuesday 21 February 2006

Madam Speaker, during these last few days, I have listened to some of the debate about a state of the nation. For te ao Maori, there is a different view and in the time available, I intend to place just one matter that the Maori Party believes is important to this nation and must be addressed urgently.

We go further and offer a solution to that problem that is practical and could be positive in its outcome for Maoridom and the country. To put things in context, one hundred and sixty-six years ago, Te Rarawa chief Pane, of the Kare Ao hapu (also known as Panakareao) told the people at Waitangi: Ko te atakau o te whenua i riro i a te Kuini, ko te tinana o te whenua waiho ki nga Maori' 'only the shadow of the land goes to the Queen, but the substance remains with us.

What followed was the first Government purchase, the Mangonui transaction.

It would not be long, before over 16,000 acres of Northern land would be awarded to six Europeans, and the remaining 446 acres left for several hundred Mäori.

It was these sales which led the Te Rarawa rangatira to reverse his famous saying, concluding that only a shadow remained after all.

Madam Speaker, the Treaty has, and always has been, about an ongoing partnership. I listened just the other night to a collection of speeches pulled together by Henare Te Ua of Prime Ministers and Maori leaders, and all have the same tenor about their hopes and dreams based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. In fact all spoke of nationhood and a need for all parties to address mistakes made.

Our people talk about it in statements like 'Kei te Tiriti tona ake tapu, tona ake mana, tona ake wairua, tona ake mauri'.

The Treaty has its own sacredness, its own strength, its own spirit, its own lifeforce. Many refer to it as a covenant.

The trouble is that the Treaty is generally only spoken about in terms of the English version. There is in fact a version written in Maori which is quite different to the English version but it gets little press. We will revisit this in the future but what is clear is that there have been breaches of a document which was to set out how we would live together.

The greatest challenge that faces this nation, is the urgency for successive Governments to demonstrate willingness, and an openness to respect this contract.

The dollar may rise and fall, mortgages may move by half a percent each 6 months but it is the relationships between us that causes the biggest disruption to the country. Remember the land marches, Bastion Point, the great hikoi of 2004!!!

To address the matter of relationships, there is an urgent need to develop a solution which resolves historical Treaty claims, which achieves fair, timely and durable settlements, and which creates a pathway forward for us as a nation.

We must address issues of past land alienation and confiscation; get rid of the Crown's assertion of unconstrained sovereignty and take action.

The Maori Party today is calling for an independent and immediate review of the settlement process undertaken by the Office of Treaty Settlements. We do this for several reasons.

The signing of the treaty implied two distinct peoples willing to regard and respect the other as a partner in the treaty - for the benefit of the nation. One partner should not profit at the expense of another. Each party should honour the other.

The Office of Treaty Settlements currently controls both the outcome and the process on Crown terms. Our people have called them the Thief, the Prosecutor and the Judge all wrapped up in one.

Fairness demands that the negotiations framework must be agreed to by both parties, up-front.

Yet when looking at the issue of settlements, the former Minister, Hon Margaret Wilson, stated that, "the Crown does not adopt a full compensation or "damages" approach to re-dress, recognising that the cost to the taxpayer would be prohibitive." Well hold on.

What about the grievance? What about justice? They say "justice delayed is justice denied". We must face it. Professor Margaret Mutu suggests that the settlements that have been arrived at are but a fraction of the amount that should rightfully have been paid. The Professor concludes that the settlements paid out so far are in fact .06 per cent of what they were worth.

The difference between what was taken, and what can be returned, represents a massive contribution by iwi to the national economy. But our people talk about settlements in terms of the land. He whenua muru, he whenua me whakahoki mai. Land taken, land returned. Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitu te whenua. People may perish but the land remains.

Madam Speaker, I hear a lot of talk in this house about fairness; about the need for one law for all, for justice. Is it fair that Ngai Tahu's $170 million was 0.01 per cent of the $1192 billion they should have received? Is it fair that Tainui's $170 million was 0.4 per cent of the total value of their claim? Is it fair that this Government is working to a pre-determined fiscal cap, expecting the total value of land settlements to be set at about $1.3 billion? What we are talking about here is $1b Fiscal Envelope cap.

Remember, the policy that was rejected by all tribes when it was taken around the country. Sir Hepi Te Heuheu - Paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa - facilitated the discussion at a national level. The policy of the National Government of that time is now being maintained by the current Labour Government. It seems Mr Speaker that the policy Maori rejected outright in 1997, is actually alive and well.

Maori should have learnt then that consulting us is but a farce. A dozen or so hui on the Seabed and Foreshore legislation, everyone rejected it in intent and content, but it is still on the books.

Mr Speaker, the problem is that the benchmark has been set against that cap and new tribal settlements are gauged against that level. An injustice created at the start is an injustice transferred to every tribe now, and into the future. Will injustice be a durable solution for the next generation? No, it will come back to bite and bite hard. Think about this. Nga iwi Maori to settle some 23 claims are offered half of what was paid out to save Air NZ. And it is one hundred million dollars less than this Government allocated in the 2000 budget for Skyhawks and Frigates.

I would hope that members of this Parliament as representatives of this nation are fair minded people. That being the case, we need an opportunity to consider the whole process from woe to go.

Fairness is about having a transparent process in place - for the opportunity to be heard.

The Crown has set, and controls the process by which iwi representatives are selected to settle the claims and to establish the governing bodies. The Crown has a hands-on role in deciding who can speak for the tribe in negotiations with the State itself. This is the sort of approach that has resulted in splits in iwi, hapu and even whanau. The Maori Party is determined to see an end to this "divide and rule" approach we are so used to.

If we are committed to removing the shadow of injustice, we must reduce the burden of the process on claimants. A critical part of this will be reviewing the guidelines for ratification to ensure the participation rate is raised, and issues of mandate and cross-claims are given due weighting.

The Crown has made some moves towards acknowledging the very real difficulties that exist in this area. The Waitangi Tribunal's 2002 report dealing with claims by Ngati Haka Patuheuheu, Nga Rauru o Nga Potiki, the WAI 36 Tuhoe claimants and Ngati Rangitihi in relation to the Ngati Awa settlement, is useful in this regard. Judge Carrie Wainwright identified in her report that: 'the Crown did not adequately disclose its policy agenda to the parties affected by the proposed settlement with Ngati Awa".

Judge Wainwright concludes:

"We acknowledge that the management of cross-claims is a difficult area. We think that the Crown should be pro-active in doing all that it can to ensure that the cost of arriving at settlements is not a deterioration of inter-tribal relations. The Crown must also be careful not to exacerbate situations where there are fragile relationships within tribes".

In the interests of fairness and justice, one would think it logical that if settlements are being achieved with tribes which may serve to disadvantage other tribes where there are cross claims, that the process would be managed in such a way as to prevent such conflicts. Well, this is not how it works right now.

These same issues cropped up again in the case of Te Arawa. Again the Tribunal highlighted the glaring short-comings of the Crown process.

"In the case of the Te Arawa mandate, we found that the Crown had failed to adequately identify and address critical issues surrounding the representivity and accountability of the executive council to the kaihautu; and that these were at the core of claimant dissatisfaction.

In our view, the mandating process had not allowed the people of Te Arawa adequate opportunity to debate and discuss these important matters".

Some tribes have returned to the Tribunal three or four times over issues of mandate and still OTS has failed to recognise there is a problem.

The Crown's agenda is settlement at all costs, despite the inevitable fall out that may come with it. This creates ongoing pain for claimants, on top of the frustrations associated with the considerable delay; let alone the trauma of reviewing the histories of massacre and marginalisation.

My colleague from Te Tai Hauauru comes from an iwi who have waited 130 years for their claim to be heard. The resolution of grievances and re-distribution of resources should be a catalyst to improved Maori economic and social wellbeing. It would also accrue benefits for the nation. But we have to do it right. An economic report, commissioned by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust claims funding agency, concluded that New Zealand would benefit to the tune of $96m a year if claims were settled sooner.

Madam Speaker, is it fair that Maori claimants are sacrificing years of their life to researching, consulting, preparing and presenting submissions to the Tribunal, only to achieve a mere pittance for their mokopuna? Some would call for the whole process to stop now to allow tribes to reflect on settlement processes, to have wananga amongst ourselves without the threat of being put to the back of the queue.

For others, there is a desire to settle without delay even taking the crumbs on the table. Why? Because they have seen their peers who may well have started the claims die as they too grow older. Some are just plan tired.

Maybe Sonny Tau had the right idea, when he posed the question about whether it would be fairer for all concerned, for Ngapuhi to take their Treaty claim for the return of tens of thousands of hectares of land to the United Nations or some other international body. The Maori Party says today, that enough is enough.

We must not continue with processes which

* Have been unjust from the start

* splits whanau;

* creates divisions in hapu and iwi;

* institutes long periods of delay; and

* introduces a process of divide and rule.

ENDS


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