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Nothing to fear from gang treaty claims - Greens

18 September 2009

Nothing to fear from gang treaty claims - Greens

The Treaty of Waitangi claims lodged by two gangs will air the impacts of 1940s and 50s government policy shifting Maori from rural areas as a cheap urban workforce, the Green Party says.

"This is an important New Zealand story that needs to be told," Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"While the Government dismisses the claim by a number of gangs as time-wasting, the fact is that treaty claims can be made by any person who wants to have an investigation of a breach of the treaty. The key here is that no compensation is being sought, only the right to have their story told. Who could possibly be afraid of that?

"In the 1940s and 50s many Maori were effectively forced from their lands, either because of government confiscations or lured as a cheap workforce. Once in the cities, there was no support and many Maori were left with no community, poor housing and miserable incomes.

"Some good things arose, such as urban marae, but it can come as no surprise that some would have turned to gangs to provide that community, however negative it is perceived.

"Ultimately it is for the Waitangi Tribunal to determine the merit of claims and whether they should be heard or not. The government has no business predetermining the outcome of their deliberations and should stop interfering in this quasi-judicial process.

"Whatever the view of gangs held by the community, we should never be frightened of hearing stories of our history, both the good and the bad," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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