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Flavell - Historic Places Trust Amendment Bill

Tuesday 27 June 2006

Historic Places Trust Amendment Bill: Third Reading

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

I talked earlier today of the loss to this nation of two treasured koeke.

Last night, we mourned the loss of another of our greatly treasured kuia, indeed the loss of a legacy, in the passing of the kuia, Guide Bubbles Mihinui. We spoke earlier today of her passing in the House.

Moe mai e kui i nga ringaringa o te wahi ngaro.

Guide Bubbles learnt her craft as a protégé of Guide Rangi (Rangitiaria Dennan) and Guide Bella (Bella Papakura).

In the mid 1930s, her grandfather, Waretini, said that Bubbles had had enough Pakeha schooling, and it was time for her to learn the family traditions, tourism and the oral history of the old people.

She became an apprentice guide in 1936 and in 1938 was appointed as a guide for the then Government Tourism Bureau.

Following the death of Guide Rangi, she became senior guide at Whakarewarewa in 1970. In all she spent some seventy years in service to the community, guiding people from all over the world around the geothermal areas of Whakarewarewa.

Her legacy is of critical importance to this nation, her experience part of the rich history of this land which must not be lost to future generations. Te Arawa has lost a cultural icon - one of the treasured line of guides who have placed Whakarewarewa on the map.

It is fitting then, that today, we come to the Historic Places Amendment Bill, appreciating the significance of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in giving emphasis to the 'historic places of heritage'.

Our sites of significance, our places of cultural heritage, are hugely important, Mr Speaker, to tangata whenua.

Our cultural history is enshrined in these places; they demonstrate and describe the stories which present a picture of the foundation of this nation.

In valuing these historic places, we can all play a part in preserving the vitality of Aotearoa for years to come.

It was thus of great disappointment that we came to this Bill, realising the Bill, in essence, would do very little to strengthen the protective powers of the Historic Places Trust or indeed the Maori Heritage Council.

One of the major concerns with this Bill is in the representation of Maori as discussed by Sue Kedgley.

At the second reading of this Bill we raised the concern around the newly redefined requirements for Maori Board Members serving on the Historic Places Trust.

Our particular concern was the removal of ethnicity, the deletion of Maori as one of the key factors in board membership. The Bill serves to reduce and dilute the strength of Maori representation to having knowledge about Maori - rather than being Maori.

The Historic Places Trust, the Maori Heritage Council, and other submitters opposed this, but the Select Committee chose to ignore their submissions and instead continue the practice of targeting Maori. Post Orewa, Post- Budget - the word we are getting very clearly is don't mention the word Maori, don't ask for any budget money for Maori, don't be Maori.

The Maori Party was therefore very happy to support the SOP put forward by Sue Kedgley to amend clause 19 which respects the importance of whakapapa as the foundation of Maori identity.

In a literal translation of this concept, "Papa" is anything broad, or flat and hard such as a flat rock, a slab or a board. "Whakapapa" is then to place in layers, lay one upon another.

Hence the term Whakapapa - describes both the recitation in proper order of genealogies, and also names the genealogies.

The picture we get through whakapapa is of building layer by layer upon the past towards the present, and on into the future. Whakapapa may include not just the genealogies but the many spiritual, mythological and human stories that give strength to the genealogical backbone of a people.

This is a concept one would think to be absolutely tied to the core work programme and philosophy of the Historic Places Trust, Mr Speaker. Indeed it is a concept which the Attorney-General sought specific legal advice on in 2004, in asking whether the Historic Places Amendment Bill was consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The advice received by the Attorney-General noted that the specific responsibilities of the Council in relation to Maori culture and heritage would be enhanced by the involvement of Maori because only persons of Maori ethnicity possess the following attributes :

* Whakapapa and whakawhanaungatanga connections (based on descent and ancestry).

* Kaitiakitanga (guardianship status) of Maori heritage.

The advice received by the Attorney-General clearly noted that whakapapa and whakawhanaungatanga are the fundamental relationships between Maori and cultural heritage; and the basis upon which Maori can claim standing on marae and communicate effectively with tangata whenua at a local level.

It went further to explain that for Maori, the kaitiaki relationship with heritage is reserved for appropriate persons of Maori ethnicity and tribal affiliation, involving the safeguarding of knowledge of the existence and significance of sites.

If that wasn't proof enough, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage also advised that appointments made to the Council solely on the basis of a person's qualification and experience without reference to Maori ethnicity would affect the credibility and mana of the Trust in relation to its statutory responsibilities to protect Maori culture and heritage.

Given this background, it was extremely disappointing that the amendment to clause 19 was not supported by the House.

And I want to refer to the comments that the Minister, Hon Judith Tizard, made at the committee stage, where she stated "I do not agree that anyone required, as in this legislation, to have knowledge of Maori heritage and Maori spiritual values should necessarily be Maori".

The advice presented to the Attorney-General, just two brief years ago, noted, and I quote

"In our view, the provisions of the Bill that require the Council to include four Maori members are rationally and proportionately connected to the aim of enhancing the ability of the Trust to fulfil its functions under the Historic Place Act. Accordingly, we consider that the limitation is justified in terms of section 5 of the Bill of Rights Act".

So what has happened in two short years to have such a turnaround?

Tangata whenua consider sites of historical and cultural significance as central to sustaining a living Maori culture, the basic premise of the Treaty of Waitangi and the Treaty principle of active protection.

The significance of whakapapa in the concept of Maori representation is thus essential to ensure the Trust has the capability to provide protection of taonga consistent with its functions and powers.

Mr Speaker, what we see now with this weakened legislation is that anyone can 'be Maori'.

The Maori Party believes that if Government was truly genuine in its intentions towards tangata whenua representation that the Board would call for nominations mandated by hapu and iwi - not open the floodgates to everyone.

The other concerns that we raised throughout this debate, was the need for the Historic Places Trust to have increased powers in order to provide protection to wahi tapu; and the importance of local hapu/iwi knowledge to inform decision-making of the Trust;

We do not believe that this Bill addresses the need for entities such as the Historic Places Trust to have some type of formal relationship with whanau, hapu and iwi or indeed with other entities such as those involved in ecosystem protection and restoration.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I return to Whakarewarewa for a final model of the importance of strengthening the cultural and historic heritage provisions for Maori.

Seven years ago in June 1999 the Te Arawa Standing Committee of Rotorua District Council, was presented with a survey of one hundred Te Arawa Leaders which expressed particular disquiet in relation to tourism that nothing was being put back into the culture - even though it was promotion of things Maori.

The leaders suggested that Maori could benefit by having the meeting houses and villages at Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa maintained. The report further recommended that the Council should work with the tourism industry to identify its costs and benefits to Te Arawa.

This report promoted the example of local government, central government, and iwi working together to maintain the precious cultural and historic heritage of our significant ancestral sites.

Our historic places, our wahi tapu, our heritage sites tell us the story of a nation - just as Guide Bubbles, protected and preserved the treasured cultural landscape of Te Arawa.

This is what this Bill should have done.

We are saddened that the heritage of a nation; the significance of tangata whenua contribution to the shaping of Aotearoa; will not be enhanced by the legislation coming before this House today, and for that reason, we will not be supporting this Bill.

ENDS

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