Te Ururoa Flavell speech - (Otamataha) Empowering Bill
New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha)
Wednesday 25 September 2013; First Reading
Te Ururoa Flavell; MP for Waiariki
I move, that the New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha) Empowering Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Māori Affairs Select Committee to hear the bill.
As I stand to open the kōrero on this bill, I want to firstly acknowledge Albert Puhirake Ihaka, the Chair of the Otamataha Trust and promoter of the bill. His leadership and your perseverance in bringing this bill to fruition I think must be commended.
In achieving this significant moment in the Statute, recognition must also go to Alan Tate, the Trust Administrator, who has managed the preparatory work to get here today. He has liaised with the Department of Internal Affairs; Land Information New Zealand; Trinity Wharf; Te Pihopa o Aotearoa; the Registrar-General; the Solicitor-General; Crown Law – all agencies who have a direct interest in this bill.
And I want to also acknowledge all of the Trustees: Morehu Ngatoko Rahipere, Desmond Matakokiri Tata, Joanne Ngapeeti Gear, Peri Reweti Kohu, Sylvia Hemoata Willison, Rena Uruhina Bennett, Raewyn Ngakumama Keith and William Charles Retireti McGuigan.
I first met the Trustees in September 2009 to discuss their proposal to introduce a private bill to vary the terms of a Trust affecting land at Dive Crescent, Tauranga Moana. Four years later, of course, it is a great day to see this Bill finally come before the House.
But if I thought four years appeared to be a significant time to wait, it pales into comparison with 117 years that these people have had to wait.
For this Bill, in acknowledging and recognising the mana of Ngati Tapu and Ngai Tamarawaho, also appreciates their status over land which has been held by the New Zealand Mission Trust since 1896.
The Bill transfers land in Tauranga and other property from the New Zealand Mission Trust to the Otamataha Trust so that it can be used for the beneficiaries of the Otamataha Trust rather than on the 1896 trusts.
At the heart of the bill then we are talking about two Trusts.
The Otamataha Trust was established by the hapū of Ngati Tapu and Ngai Tamarawaho to own and manage land and other property acquired through the historical common interests of those hapū in Tauranga Moana.
The New Zealand Mission Trust Board is a body incorporated under the Religious Charitable and Educational Trust Boards Incorporation Act 1884.
The purpose of that Act was to hold the assets of the Board on trusts for the spiritual benefit and spiritual instruction of Māori people in the North Island or failing that, the evangelisation of heathen races in any part of the world.
We have to remember that we’re talking about 1884 – and the Mission Trust Board itself which was a byproduct of the Church Missionary Society.
The Church Missionary Society was formed out of the global goal to send the missionaries to “Africa and the rest of the heathen world” to “propagate the knowledge of the Gospel among the heathen.”
It would be a little remiss of me, as the Co-leader of the Māori Party, to avoid the obvious which is to comment on the use of the word, heathen, to marginalise, oppress and discriminate Māori as the Other. It fits within the context of political, social, economic and cultural discrimination of the day – a time in which tangata whenua were described in other comparable terms – such the noble savage; and other terms denoting an immoral status.
It was anticipated that the introduction of the Gospel to indigenous people would transform them from this supposedly heathen state to a world of civilisation. The process of converting indigenous populations to the doctrine of Western Christianity was meant to achieve beneficial return for the native congregation.
It’s outside the scope of this bill to pass any judgment on the Church Missionary Society other than to note its role in the land in question.
The Church Missionary Society was established in Tauranga in 1835. In 1838 and 1839 the Society purchased two blocks of land at Te Papa; the Te Papa peninsula being the site of central Tauranga today.
The 1838 purchase was carried out by deed by Reverend A N Brown on behalf of the Church Mission Society; charged with purchasing land at Tauranga including Otamataha from tangata whenua. The 1838 transaction however, has never been accepted by tangata whenua as a sale of the land to the Church Mission Society – and therein lies the genesis of this bill.
For the core issue at the heart of this Bill is to recognise that the awarding of the Crown grant in 1852 was in itself contrary to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
In 2004, the Waitangi Tribunal in its “Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana: Report on the Tauranga Confiscation Claims”, after considering the manner in which a Crown Grant for the land was awarded to the Church Mission Society concluded, and I quote:
‘we find that Godfrey failed to ascertain and acknowledge the conditional nature of the transactions under Maori customary law and that he wrongly concluded that the CMS (Church Missionary Society) had fully and fairly purchased the whole of the area. The Crown, in accepting Godfrey’s recommendation and finally awarding the CMS a Crown grant for the whole area, was therefore in breach of the Treaty principle of active protection.’ “
Fifteen years after the awarding of the Crown Grant, the Church Mission Society in 1867 gifted the Crown four-fifths of the land and military settlers were settled on it.
On the 28 September 1896 the residue of that land including Otamataha was transferred by the Church Mission Society to the New Zealand Mission Trust Board.
Fast forward a century – and in 1996 the New Zealand Mission Trust Board handed back control of the land to the new trustees appointed by Ngati Tapu and Ngai Tamarawaho.
That all appears to be very positive – but there was a catch.
Although the new trustees had control of the land, they are still obliged to use the land with the new Sebel Hotel built on it. The Trust would collect the ground rent from that hotel.
It has always been the intention of the two trusts that it be changed so that the two hapū can benefit from it directly.
So two years after the control of the land was passed over, in a Deed dated 20 September 1998 the then trustees of the New Zealand Mission Trust Board, in recognition of the manner and the process by which the land was acquired from tangata whenua, resigned as trustees.
They were immediately replaced by new trustees representing the hapū of Ngati Tapu and Ngāi Tamarawaho.
This Bill then puts right a wrong that occurred over a century ago.
In the letter that Albert Ihaka wrote to the Clerk of the House of Representatives in submitting this bill, he summed up the purpose in one clear statement : “The reason for this bill is to enable property to be used for the benefit of people and hapū from whose tupuna that property was originally derived”.
That property will be transferred from the charitable trust that currently holds that property to a new common law trust.
The beneficiaries of this new trust – and indeed this bill – will rightfully be, the descendants of the tupuna from which the property was originally taken.
And so ultimately, the history and the context for this bill rests with the mana of Ngāti Tapu and Ngāi Tamarawaho.
We look forward to learning more from these hapū about their historical common interests in Tauranga-Moana and Te Papa. That common interest extends from Tauranga Harbour to the Waikareao Estuary and includes all of the land North of that line including reclaimed land at Sulphur Point and adjacent harbour bed.
At the select committee process we also will learn more about the significance of their whakapapa to Tapukino in the case of Ngati Tapu and Tahuriwakanui in the case of Ngāi Tamarawaho.
My fervent wish is that these people, who have waited well over a hundred years for justice to be done, will now be able to see this injustice righted in as quick a timeframe as can be realistically achieved.
I commend this bill to the House today.