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New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha) Empowering Bill

New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha) Empowering Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Kia ora rā . Talofa lava i tēnei rangi.

I move, That the New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha) Empowering Bill be now read a third time.

I want to acknowledge the privilege and the honour, of taking up the cause of this bill, on behalf of the uri of Koraurau, Hikareia, and Hori Tupaea.

Today we stand in the long shadow of the koroua rangatira the ilk of Henare Taratoa, Hori Ngatai, Rawiri Puhirake. We are carrying out the wishes of those who whakapapa to the historical hapu of Te Mate Rawaho, to Ngai Tukairangi, Ngati Tapu and Te Whanau a Tauwhao.

It is coming up to close to five years since I met with the Trustees of the Otamataha Trust. I mihi today, to Albert Puhirake Ihaka, for his vision, his perseverance and his leadership in championing this bill.

His very first submission to the Clerk of the House of Representatives was succinct in his purpose : the reason for this bill is to enable property to be used for the benefit of people and hapu from whose tupuna that property was originally derived.

I want to also name in the House the Trustees who have helped to guide this bill to fruition
· Morehu Ngatoka Rahipere;

· Desmond Matakori Tata

· Joanne Ngapeeti Gear

· Peri Reweti Kohu

· Sylvia Hemoata Willison

· Rena Uruhina Bennett

· Raewyne Ngakumama Keith

· William Charles Retireti McGuigan.

And in reaching this very significant reading, I acknowledge to the hard work of Alan Tate, the Trust Administrator, in his conscientious endeavours to leave no stone unturned in bringing this bill to the House

A very distinguished New Zealander, and a former Māori Party member at that, Robert Consedine, has written a very important book with his daughter Joanna in mind, and it is titled Healing our History.

The musician and songwriter Tim Finn made a comment about this book, which I thought was pretty apt to refer to at this very important moment in the history of Ngāti Tapu, Ngāi Tamarāwaho , and Ngāi Tūkairangi —indeed, for Tauranga moana across the board.

This is what he had to say: “I remember singing background vocals on the Australian Aboriginal group Yothu Yindi song “Treaty”. I felt proud at the moment that at least New Zealand had a Treaty. After reading Healing our History, I am reminded that we have no reason to feel smug. The theme for Pākehā of personal responsibility to learn and apply the lessons of history comes through loud and clear. Frank Sargeson : out of print. Ronald Hugh Morrieson : out of print. Literary and historical amnesia spring from the same culture of forgetting. Healing our History reminds us that for all the stories of duplicity, cruelty, and ignorance, there may still be one place where poetry and politics can meet.”

Today at this third reading we trace back over a history in which vast tracks of land were confiscated by the Crown, including the Otamataha site. It is history in which the tangata whenua were positioned as rebels, a space into which the Church Missionary Society took advantage.

This bill remedies the original wrong done in 1835 when Archdeacon Brown purchased two blocks of land at Te Papa , Te Papa peninsula being the site of central Tauranga to this day. I just want to focus on one word in the bill’s title and the fact that this bill is “empowering” legislation.

To empower is to give someone authority or power—to give them the means to control their life, to claim their rights, to emancipate, to unyoke, to unfetter, to unshackle, to set free, and to give freedom.

Well, today is the final step in extinguishing the New Zealand Mission Trust Board and discharging its trustees. Through the legislation we pass today, we will mandate the change in the trust and the beneficiaries, and, in doing so, unshackle the hapū of Ngāti Tapu and Ngāi Tamarāwaho.

I took the step of naming the trustees who have made this possible because we must not unknowingly contribute to the historical amnesia about the story of our nation. The Māori Party has raised an issue directly with the Prime Minister about appropriate ways in which we recognise those events of our past conflicts, events in which pressured strands of whakapapa were desecrated, where land was alienated and dispossessed, leaving the people impoverished.

A key issue at the heart of this bill is that awarding the Crown Grant in 1852 was actually contrary to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. But we must not abandon the broader context of this bill, which was that the actions that resulted in the land transaction at Otamataha were in themselves a punishment metered out to those so-called natives, those heathens, for the battles at Te Ranga and Pukehinahina .

Over the course of this year we have been reflecting on the impact of the Land Wars occurring throughout Waikato at Rangiriri , Waiari , Rangiaowhia , Rākau , and Pukehinahina. In fact, next month we commemorate the last battle, Te Ranga. We must tell the stories beyond the conflict and remember the lives lost, both of British soldiers and of mana whenua who are buried alongside one another. I spoke about that in the second reading.

This was the ultimate miscarriage of justice—the colonial project deteriorating into land being sold by the Crown, invested in the Church Missionary Society. These are not just stories of duplicity, cruelty, and ignorance; this is also a story of a church that took a bold action to seek a pathway for reconciliation. It is a story in which the Waitangi Tribunal has enabled a new future to be rewritten.

The mandate of the Tribunal in 2004 has in effect enabled this legislation to stand to address the Treaty breach of active protection. The tribunal concluded definitely, and I quote from its ruling: “We find that Godfrey failed to ascertain and acknowledge the conditional nature of the transaction under Māori customary law, and that he wrongfully concluded that the Church Missionary Society had fully and fairly purchased the whole area.” It is a story of courage and determination on behalf of Ngāti Tapu and Ngāi Tamarāwaho in working with the New Zealand Mission Trust Board to establish a new common law trust. The beneficiaries of this trust will rightfully be, as Puhirake Ihaka stated, the descendents of the tūpuna from whom the property was originally taken. In the space of less than five years, the Otamataha Trust has worked diligently to rectify the breach over land that has been held by the New Zealand Mission Trust since 1896.

The most recent innovation was to amend the Otamataha Trust Board just two months ago to allow Ngāi Tūkairangi members to benefit through their whakapapa links to their historical hapū of Te Materawaho, whose connections to the land are now recognised in the trustee. A definition of Ngāti Tapu has also been expanded to take this whakapapa into account.

In closing, I want to congratulate my friend and colleague the Hon Tau Henare on presiding over the Māori Affairs Committee , and I acknowledge also my fellow select committee members for their support in allowing this bill to come to its third reading before Parliament breaks up.

I acknowledge, too, the Business Committee of the House, which granted leave to compress the second reading and Committee stage of the bill. The priority for all of us in this House was, indeed, to heal our history, to restore the Otamataha land to its rightful owners, and, in doing so, to offer up the greatest opportunity for meaningful dialogue to be held across the greater rohe of Tauranga moana.

This bill provides the incentive for reconciliation between Māori and the Crown, and Māori and the church. It enables—indeed it empowers—all New Zealanders to learn and apply the rich lessons of history that come through military conquest, through land acquisition, through legislative stealth.

Most important of all, it allows new waiata to be written about the significance of whakapapa, the enduring value of land, and the importance of the tribal connections between Ngāti Tapu, Ngāi Tamarāwaho, and Ngāi Tūkairangi. As I wrap up, I just acknowledge the descendents of those who were involved in this whole issue. They are in the gallery today. They have come down from Tauranga moana. I wish them well. In moving this bill, I commend it highly to the House of Parliament.


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