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Flavell: Mauao Historic Reserve Vesting Bill

Mauao Historic Reserve Vesting Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

Thursday 13 December 2007

There’s a short video clip on You-Tube called ‘Mauao Bombs’ which features some Maori kids in baggy black pants, doing bombs off Salisbury Wharf in Tauranga.

The creative acrobatics and diving prowess of these young rangatahi is capped off at the end of the clip by a close-up on the sign, “NO JUMPING”.

The comments alongside the video clip say “It’s a shame the council decided after decades of fun to ban jumping from this wharf”.

Having a healthy appreciation as I do of the skills it requires to jump off a bridge – having spent some of my childhood perfecting the art of bombing at school and anywhere else I could show off to the ladies – the video grabbed my attention as I was thinking about this Mauao Historic Reserve Vesting Bill. For those unfamiliar by the way, Mauao is the original name for what most now know as Mt. Maunganui in Tauranga.

And it made me wonder whether the mana and integrity of Tauranga Moana iwi will find itself as constrained by the enactments of this Bill, as the Mauao boys are constrained by the local council bylaws.

The big question as we consider this Bill Mr Speaker is;

How will the ownership rights of Ngai te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga be respected when all rights remain with the Crown through the Minister of Conservation, devolved in part to the Tauranga City Council.

Who will end up doing the jumping and who will end up nailing down the signs of possession and control?

I ask this question, Mr Speaker, with all due respect to the signatories from Tauranga Moana.

As I understand it, Ngai te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga sought a comprehensive package with respect to transfer of title, management arrangements and Treaty settlement negotiations for Mauao.

Their expectation was that they would receive the entire Mauao historic reserve. Their expectation was that the process and outcome would uphold the mana of the three iwi of Tauranga Moana.

To cut to the chase, they want their maunga back…it’s that simple. And in case someone does the old scare tactic of…the Maoris will not allow access, I am clear that that claim is rubbish just as it was for the Seabed and Foreshore legislation.

So, the challenge for this House is to gauge whether the way in which this Bill vests the fee simple estate of Mauao historic reserve in the trustees of the Mauao Trust goes anywhere near this expectation.

In its most practical form, the Bill gives effect to the agreement to introduce vesting legislation in relation to Mauao, signed by the Crown and iwi in August of this year.

And importantly, the Bill makes explicit the objective of the Crown to build healthy relationships with Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui, Ngati Pukenga and Waitaha.

It all seems pretty good stuff.

Positive expectations of the iwi; constructive commitment from the Crown and at the heart of it all, the acknowledgement of the historic significance of Mauao.

As the story goes that the Patupaiarehe gave the name Mauao to this mountain following a battle of love between a humble nameless hill and the great chiefly mountain, Otanewainuku, both vying of the love of Puwhenua.

Unsuccessful in his pursuit for the heart of Puwhenua, the Nameless One longed for the sea. The patupaiarehe drew on all of their magical powers to drag him to the place that he now stands which marks the entrance of Tauranga Moana. He became known as ‘Mauao' - ‘Caught by the Dawn' and in time, he has assumed greater mana than his lifelong rival Otanewainuku.

Mauao features throughout the mythologies and whakapapa known to Ngati Pukenga, Ngai te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Waitaha.

But the archaeological landscape within the Mauao Historic Reserve is also of lasting local, national and international significance. It represents the physical remains of approximately six hundred years of human occupation.

The archaeological features on Mauao have considerable cultural significance to iwi of Tauranga Moana.

In short, it is the most sacred landmark in the whole Tauranga area and it is the reason Tauranga iwi have actively resisted any commercial imposition on to the mountain.

Huge pa sites from Ngati Ranginui and Waitaha were located on the mountain. The history also includes the occupation of Ngaiterangi iwi through the Battle of Kokowai; and the archaeological heritage of Mauao as a wahi tapu ensures the historical and cultural significance will never be lost.

There is also a post-contact history in which Government of the late 1800s forcibly acquired ownership of the mountain by forcing owners to pay for expensive surveys of the land. Surveys which in themselves were so prohibitive that owners were eventually placed under no alternative but to sell their interests to extinguish debt. According to other records, fossicking by European settlers also desecrated the mountain.

The sacred maunga of Mauao is central in the stories and whakapapa of Tauranga Moana iwi and Waitaha. His name features in the tribal pepeha. He is central to the mana, rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga of the three Tauranga Moana iwi.

So think about it.

Clause seven of this Bill, states that the general law continues to apply as if the Mauao historic reserve were still vested in the Crown.

Iwi only have the title. That’s right. This is a Clayton’s return of the maunga which has the potential to completely stifle the ownership interests of Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga.

Yet again, we remember the words of Nopera Panakareao, at the signing of the Treaty, who had passed the comment, ‘The shadow of the land goes to Queen Victoria, but the substance remains to us’. Only a year later he was to rephrase his original statement, concluding, ‘The substance of the land goes to the Europeans, the shadow only will be our portion’.

In the case of Mauao it must be said that there was concern about the difference between the shadow and the substance, even before the vesting agreement was signed.

On 14th July this year Ngati Pukenga attended a ratification hui at Hairini Marae at which 87% of them voted AGAINST signing the agreement. At this stage the understanding was that if the vote of the four iwi was split, or consensus not reached, another hui would be called a month later for a final vote to be taken.

But hello, what happened? Suddenly the Crown intervened and shifted the threshold of the vote, concluding that a mere 66% of all voters would be sufficient.

A decision made without consulting or notifying the iwi runanga – and in particular the people of Ngati Pukenga. All done behind the shadow of the Crown.

Mr Speaker, we have on the record information which informs us that Ngati Pukenga twice voted resoundingly for not signing the agreement.

We have also statements which describe how the resolve of Ngati Pukenga has been tested unduly and unnecessarily, and I quote:

“The process thus far has been seriously flawed and our people have been alienated because the mana of our iwi was not respected”.

We contrast this statement with the emphasis the Crown gave in the preamble of the Bill, about their so-called commitment to healthy relationships with the iwi of Tauranga Moana.

Yet again, the Crown comes up sadly wanting.

We have a situation by which for all intents and purposes Mauao remains in Crown ownership.

We have a situation in which Tauranga Moana iwi were unable to find resolution to their concerns about the long term impacts of Clause seven which clearly sets out the Crown continues to bear the rights and obligations as if it were the owner of the reserve.

Iwi wanted to know exactly how clause seven would have an impact. Ngai Te Rangi remind us that although their old people wanted the maunga returned at all costs, the price of clause seven is too high.

I have met with representatives of Ngai-te-Rangi and they too are not happy. It’s the classic divide and rule tactic; it’s also the same old story with Settlements; Take it or leave it, but if you leave it, don’t come back and don’t moan. So what happens? The people become divided. And is an all too familiar feature of the interactions set in train by Crown intervention.

One wonders when the Crown will ever fully understand the lifelong impacts and trauma that come about through provoking such division and conflict amongst neighbouring iwi.

These are iwi –just like the high spirited young boys jumping off the wharf – who see Mauao as central in their identity, their sense of who they are.

They deserve the House’s full respect for the integrity and commitment they have always upheld in trying to achieve the best outcomes for Tauranga Moana iwi and for Mauao.

We will support this Bill through to select committee to ensure all of the voices that need to be heard in this debate have the chance to put their concerns.

But we will always be watching to see that securing Mauao remains of the highest priority for those iwi who have always called it he maunga tipua, he maunga tapu, ae, he maunga nui.


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