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Third Reading: Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ka Mate Haka Bill

Hon Dr Pita Sharples

Minister of Māori Affairs

17 April 2014

Third Reading: Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ka Mate Haka Bill

Mr Speaker, today we welcome the sons and daughters of Hoturoa, captain of the great Tainui Canoe.

Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou katoa.

Mr Speaker, nearly two centuries ago the people of Ngāti Toa Rangatira resided at Kāwhia, on Waikato Tainui’s western coast, from Aōtea to Huikōmako.

Ko Tainui te waka

Ko Hoturoa te tangata

Ko Ngāti Toa Rangatira te iwi.

Their incredible heke or great migration south is stuff legends are made of.

Mr Speaker, in the early 1800s as they faced conquest in their northern lands, the people of Ngāti Toa Rangatira turned south.

Led by the renowned Chief, Te Rauparaha, Ngāti Toa Rangatira and their allies’ embraced technology. Armed with muskets they conquered tribes across the southern North Island and the northern South Island.

The Ngāti Toa Rangatira heke included their women, children and kaumātua. They too walked hundreds of kilometres. Many would die along the way from Kāwhia to their new homelands in Kāpiti.

Mr Speaker, by the time the Treaty of Waitangi was signed – Ngāti Toa Rangatira was exercising tino rangatiratanga as mana whenua over the lands they occupied on the south-west coast of Wellington at Ōhariu, Porirua, Kāpiti Island and across parts of the Horowhenua coast.

In Te Tau Ihu O Te Waka a Maui their main areas of occupation were the Wairau, Port Underwood and the Pelorus Sounds.

Mr Speaker, by the time the Treaty of Waitangi was signed the global whaling industry was burgeoning with whaling stations established across Ngāti Toa whenua. The flax trade was also booming.

Ngāti Toa Rangatira weren’t just part of the emerging economy in this part of the country: they were leading it and they were owners of it.

But the Treaty of Waitangi – signed by Te Rauparaha – changed the ground rules forever.

The Crown’s military action and land purchases were pervasive and unrelenting.

Ngāti Toa Rangatira economic power: ruined

Ngāti Toa Rangatira political power: devastated

Ngāti Toa Rangatira people: left virtually landless without reserves or endowments.

Mr Speaker, all those things the Crown has taken from the people of Ngāti Toa Rangatira can never be replaced: and yet they honour the Crown today with their generosity and their willingness to settle their historical grievances.

Most Kiwis have heard the famous whakataukī:

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He Tangata. He Tangata. He Tangata.

What is the greatest thing of all?
It is people. It is people. It is people.

New Zealanders often ponder about what things best define us.

Our mountains? Our artists? Our rugby?

But without someone to climb that mountain, without a person to write that book, without an incredible captain to lead that team: without people, we have nothing to define us.

Mr Speaker, the greatest thing of all about New Zealand?

It is our people. It is our people. It is our people.

Fearless. Ingenious. Straight Up.

These are some of the words that help explain our Number Eight Wire mentality.

So it’s not surprising that before anyone else: our ancestors went where no man or woman had gone before.

Conquering a third of the surface of the planet and writing the final chapter of human exploration and settlement.

It’s not surprising that the guy who decided to knock the bugger off and climb the tallest mountain on earth was from Tuakau.

It’s not surprising that the most successful sports team on the planet wear black jerseys.

And Mr Speaker, when it comes to a unique, defining cultural symbol that sets New Zealand out from the rest of the world: it’s not surprising that the rest of the world thinks of one word.


And - it’s not surprising that the Haka New Zealanders know and is known for above all others is a Haka like no other!

A triumphant, defiant celebration of life over death.

Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka Ora! Ka Ora!

Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka Ora! Ka Ora!

Composed by the warrior chieftain Te Rauparaha as he cheated death – years later the words of Te Rauparaha resound through the generations.

His words have come to define the Human spirit: Fearless. Ingenious. Straight Up.

The haka - Ka Mate - is our most powerful icon and symbol for New Zealand’s most favourite pastime: punching above our own weight.

Nearly 200-years later, the words of Te Rauparaha resound through the generations.

Mr Speaker, from this day on the Crown acknowledges and recognises the significance of Ka Mate as a taonga, as an integral part of the history, culture and identity of - Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

I am proud to be part of a Government that honours, respects and recognises the whakapapa of Ka Mate.

What also pleases me is the impetus in this bill for those who perform Ka Mate: to do it properly.

In the immortal words of the great All Black captain Buck Shelford who helped resurrect the correct performance of Ka Mate:

“Do it F-ing right or don’t do it at all!”

Mr Speaker, I am proud to be part of a Government that today stands alongside the whānau of Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Today we resolve historical grievances with honour, with mana and with the generosity of the sons and daughters of Hoturoa.

From the house of Toa Rangatira to the New Zealand House of Representatives.

Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou katoa!


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