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Turia: The Removal of Treaty Related Legislation

Te Moana Nui a Kiwa Whakapukahatanga Ihi

South Pacific Professional Engineers for Excellence Annual Conference

Cross-Cultural Communication: The Engineering Challenge

Saturday 23 September 2006; 3.00pm

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

'The Removal of Treaty Related Legislation'


I want to share a story of two brothers, Harry Delamere and Roger Dansey.

Harry was born at Tapuaeharuru (Taupo) in 1874 and Roger at Ohinemutu in 1885. Their mother, Wikitoria, was the daughter of Ihakara Kahuao, leader of Ngati Rauhoto hapu of Ngati Tuwharetoa. Harry joined the civil engineering section of the railway service as a cadet, he later studied at the School of Engineering, Canterbury College; and may well have been the first qualified Maori engineer.

Harry supervised construction of the Dunedin railway station and in 1910 went overseas to work on underground railway projects including the London Underground. Returning home, he was responsible for the design and construction of the Auckland-Pukekohe line.

Harry was second lieutenant in the Maori contingent, later transferring to the Pioneer Battalion where his engineering qualifications were invaluable. He was placed in charge of railway construction and transport organisation for the battle area, leading to him being awarded the Military Cross for 'distinguished services in the field'. Like his brother, Roger also studied engineering as well as playing for the Maori All Blacks. In 1915 he became an officer in the Maori Contingent of the Expeditionary Force. He was instrumental in the rushing of the trenches in the battle of Sari Bair at Gallipoli, and later became responsible for organising light railway operations in France.

The lives, and early deaths of the Dansey brothers, exemplify what Sir Apirana Ngata described in his booklet 'The Price of Citizenship'; in which he implied that Maori had paid for their citizenship in blood.

Two Maori citizens, sacrificing their well-being, utilising their talents and considerable engineering expertise, for the benefit of the nation.

Ta Apirana believed that by spilling blood, showing true valour, on the battlefield, Maori would be fulfilling their obligations as citizens (as in article three of the Treaty) and would be accepted as such.

The Dansey brothers demonstrate the Treaty of Waitangi in action - tangata whenua who were conscripted in line with the kawanatanga principle - assuming the Government has the right to govern and make laws. Tangata whenua who under the Treaty should be entitled to equality under the law. Tangata whenua who gave freely, willingly, of their life - honouring the duty to act reasonably and in good faith.

And yet, whilst their non-Maori peers returned to comprehensive rehabilitation schemes, ten percent of Pakeha soldiers being assisted to acquire land under the Government's repatriation programme; only 39 Maori pioneers (1.8%) were entitled to the same assistance.

So what does all this have to do with the opportunities for Maori to pursue a career in professional engineering, or indeed the aspirations and achievements of civil engineers?

Believe it or not, my decision to draw on a war-time analogy, was not influenced by knowing of your group, SPIES, the South Pacific Indigenous Engineering Students association.

But it perhaps does bear some light on the way in which Maori have been severely under-represented in all sectors of Engineering.

It is particularly ironic that Maori are under-presented in the engineering profession considering the formidable systems of entrenchments and fortifications that distinguish our history.

Of particular note are the fortification lines in the Waikato at battlesites such as Meremere, Rangiriri and Paterangi. The national historic heritage workshop held in 2002 described the frontier defence systems and massive stockades recorded since the 1840s. I quote:

"Much has rightly been made of Maori skill in developing fortified pa to withstand artillery bombardment and leave the garrison able effectively to repel an assault. Such pa were developed out of a centuries old tradition of fortification engineering".

The complex bunkers, the angled trenches, the skilful designs demonstrated that not only were Maori capable of planning such ingenious defence, but also highlight a shrewd use of engineering and construction knowledge.

I have come today, at the invitation of the Associate Dean Maori in the Faculty of Engineering, Kepa Morgan, to share some ideas around your theme: cross-cultural communication - the engineering challenge - with particular focus on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Dansey brothers enlisted in the war effort as a consequence of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty, founded on the principle of a partnership between Maori and the Crown. The Treaty which provides for Maori to retain tino rangatiratanga alongside the rights and privileges of citizenship. The Treaty which bestows on the Crown a duty of active protection of Maori people in the use of their lands and waters to the fullest extent practicable.

It is this same treaty which has been breached in the taking of land for public works. Public works which have been used to justify the confiscation, the alienation and the theft of land from Maori. Actions which have resulted in what Morrie Love, in his paper, 'The interface between Maori and Engineers' defines as, "a legacy of grievance against the notion of public works and per se engineering works".

So how did it come to pass that Te Tiriti o Waitangi, was abused to such an extent as we see manifest in legislation such as the Foreshore and Seabed Act; in the ongoing impact of the fiscal envelope; in modern day confiscations such as the most recent invention of Crown stratum seen in Te Arawa Lakes Settlement?

How did the foundation of our constitutional framework, the source of the Government's claim to moral and political legitimacy, get overlooked? As civil and environmental engineers, as students interested in the study of infrastructure, this question is pivotal to your understanding of Aotearoa as a modern state.

Part of the difficulty comes from successive Governments who have deliberately presented the Treaty as a source of conflict. They have developed policies to settle 'grievances'. They have minimalised the advice of specialists as 'lawyers in a Treaty gravy train'. Even the role they give to the Treaty Minister is telling - while other Ministers are the Minister of Health; of Education; of Finance; Mark Burton is known as the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

Heaven forbid that tangata whenua should ever believe they were in charge of the Treaty relationship.

Against such a context of crisis politics, Labour and New Zealand First have been happy to support a Bill to delete Treaty principles from legislation. Deletion. Removal. Obliteration. Tactics of suppression and omission, to remain in charge of the natives.

The ripple effects of these actions are enormous.

I know that some outsiders may well see the bricks and mortar of engineering and construction as purely the finished product - the bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, railways, water supply, wastewater and disposal systems, the essential infrastructure of our community.

But in the engineering profession, as you well know, the challenge of planning, designing, constructing and maintaining community facilities must include an evaluation of any social and environmental effects.

Central in the analysis is the relationship between tangata whenua and engineers envisaged in the Resource Management Act. What is the adequacy of the consultation with mana whenua? What is the historical significance of proposed sites of interest to Maori within the rohe? How are Maori interests protected with respect to rivers, geothermal resources, minerals, sand, shingle, oil and gas? The Treaty articulated the commitment of our ancestors towards preserving the tino rangatiratanga of Maori, emphasizing Maori land ownership, demonstrating chiefly authority.

The late Sir Robin Cooke of Thorndon described it as "simply the most important document in New Zealand's history.....a nation cannot case adrift from its own foundations".

And yet currently we have before the House a Bill - supported by Labour- which does precisely that - casting the nation adrift by eliminating from all New Zealand statutes any reference to principles.

My urgent concern relates to how this outright attack on the Treaty as the basis of our constitutional partnership is influencing other sectors.

In Education, we have already seen the Treaty removed from the key principles of the new national curriculum. Ironically when we asked in the House what would the removal of Treaty principles from education achieve, the Minister, Parekura Horomia, responded that it would enhance the Treaty in practice.

The question must surely be asked - if mathematics was to be taken out of the curriculum, would that improve the study of maths? Just this week I spent some time with nursing students who advised me of their fear that the erasure of Treaty principles would also impact drastically on their capacity within the health sector to protect the retention of cultural safety within their curriculum.

The profession of engineering, as I understand, is about critically reviewing structural projects; analysing and enhancing support systems, having a keen eye for firm foundations.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi provides us with such a structure, a living instrument for an evolving partnership between Maori and the Crown. Quite simply, it represents an exchange of promises between sovereign peoples, giving rise to mutual obligations.

We are at a critical juncture in our history in which it appears one part of the partnership is trying to extricate itself from an enduring compact.

We must not become distracted from the urgency of addressing these issues by the all-time low standard of political behaviour and attitude.

The Maori Party, as the independent Maori voice in Parliament, has consistently advocated for politics which addresses the issue rather than stooping to character assassinations which belittle individuals.

And the issue, quite simply, is to ensure Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured as the key means of symbolising and articulating commitments, responsibilities and relationships for two partners.

In doing so, we look to the science of engineering to advance our thinking, and to ensure indigenous solutions have effective voice in the vital challenge before our nation now.

I was immensely reassured by the Marae digipoll released this morning, which confirmed that for Maori - both on the Maori roll and the General roll - Treaty issues remains our most important issue by far - in fact some ten percentage points higher than other issues.

We must build on this united position, to ensure we preserve Te Tiriti o Waitangi as our founding document. Finally, I want to end with a comment from writer, illustrator and cartoonist, Harry Dansey - son of Harry Delamere Dansey, Harry Dansey, also a member of the 28th Maori Battalion, stated in his role as Race Relations Commissioner for New Zealand that it was important to "legislate against actions dictated by prejudice".

The Maori Party this week has done exactly that - with our private members Bill to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

But we also raise the call - we do not want to have to be in the same position next year of repealing the Bill to remove the Treaty from legislation. Submissions for the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill are due Wednesday 20 October. This is your chance to have a say! It is a challenge I know we can all live up to. Our future depends on it.

Our nation is built on it. Our relationships rely on it.

To paraphrase the 28th Maori Battalion: For the Treaty! For the People! And for Country! AU - E! Ake, ake, kia kaha e!

ENDS

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