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Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana report released

Waitangi Tribunal releases Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana report

The Waitangi Tribunal has today issued a 500-page report on the raupatu (confiscation) of Maori land in the Tauranga district, following the war of 1864. The Tribunal’s inquiry is not the first but it is the fullest inquiry into the confiscation that has ever been conducted. In contrast to the Royal Commission of 1927, which reported on the Tauranga confiscation and concluded that Tauranga Maori had not been badly treated, the Tribunal has found that they have substantial grievances. These grievances have never been fully addressed by the Crown.

The Waitangi Tribunal has found that the Crown made numerous breaches of the principles of the Treaty in the way it confiscated land at Tauranga in the nineteenth century. As a consequence Tauranga Maori were prejudicially affected - especially in the form of land loss and subsequent economic marginalisation.

The Tribunal found the loss of land by Tauranga Maori was similar to that suffered by the iwi of Taranaki and Waikato. It recommends that the Crown should, therefore, seek to settle the claims of Tauranga Maori with comparable redress, while taking into account the relative size of the three different districts.

The report covers 55 separate claims. The claimants represent the hapu of several iwi, including Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Waitaha and the Marutuahu people. (See attached map)

The Waitangi Tribunal heard the claims between February 1998 and December 2001.

The report focuses on the following issues:

War at Tauranga

The battles at Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) on 29 April 1864 and Te Ranga on 21 July 1864 followed on from the Waikato war. The Tribunal found that the Crown breached the Treaty in substantial ways by landing troops at Tauranga and attacking local Maori. This resulted in large-scale loss of life and property on the part of Tauranga Maori. The Crown then used the resistance of Tauranga Maori as an excuse to confiscate their land, breaching the Treaty obligation to allow Maori to retain ownership and control of their land. The Crown justified the confiscation on the ground that Maori were in ‘rebellion’. However, the Tribunal rejected this justification because it failed to take into account the circumstances of New Zealand in the 1860s.

Loss of land

The report details the loss of Maori land as a result of raupatu (confiscation). The Crown initially took a 50,000-acre area known as the ‘confiscated block’ from Tauranga Maori. However, the rest of the district was not left untouched. The entire district, estimated at 290,000 acres, was later included in the confiscation proclamations. Though the land outside the 50,000-acre block was then returned to Maori, most of this was alienated from Maori over the next 20 years. The Crown purchased some 90,000 acres within the district known as the Te Puna-Katikati block and a further area of ‘returned land’, estimated at 75,000 acres, and was sold to the Crown or private purchasers by 1886. At this time Tauranga Maori retained only an estimated 75,000 acres of relatively poor quality land and this was no longer held under customary title.

The confiscated block

The confiscation of 50,000 acres of land in the central part of the district, was a Treaty breach that was never really contested by the Crown in the Tribunal’s inquiry. The Crown did argue that because the amount of land finally taken from Tauranga Maori was relatively small, little actual prejudice to Tauranga Maori resulted. The Tribunal rejected this and concluded that the Tauranga confiscation was a grave injustice on the part of the Crown, which has severely hindered the aspirations of Tauranga Maori since the 1860s. In particular, the Tribunal found that the hapu of Ngati Ranginui, who lived largely within the confiscated block, lost most of their land and have suffered deprivation as a result.

Te Puna-Katikati Crown purchase

In August 1864, in an effort to acquire more land, some government ministers took a number of Ngai Te Rangi chiefs to Auckland and persuaded them to sign a deed to sell the land from Te Puna through to Katikati. The chiefs of Ngati Pukenga, Ngati Ranginui, Marutuahu, as well as many of Ngai Te Rangi, were not consulted and thus never agreed to sell their land in the area. Despite the protests of these rangatira, the Government insisted that the land had been sold. Some chiefs not party to the original transaction eventually got some payment but they were not allowed to keep their land. The Treaty of Waitangi promised Maori they could retain their land for as long as they so desired but the Crown did not allow Maori to retain Te Puna-Katikati. The Tribunal found that this, too, was a significant breach of the Treaty.

Returned land

The report also details the fate of the land returned to Maori outside the 50 000 acre-confiscated block and the Te Puna-Katikati block. The Crown used land commissioners to ascertain rights to this land and returned it to them over the next 20 years. But it was returned in individual rather than customary title and could be sold to the Crown or Pakeha without the consent of local chiefs. All but some 75,000 acres was sold by 1886. The Crown took advantage of this situation to purchase some significant blocks of land including, even, the sacred mountain of Mauao (Mount Manganui) – despite the protests of the leading chiefs of the area.

The Waitangi Tribunal concluded that:

Tauranga Maori suffered considerable prejudice as a result of breaches of the principles of the Treaty arising from the Crown’s confiscation, return and purchase of Maori land in the Tauranga district in the period before 1886.

It is the recommendation of the Tribunal that the Crown move quickly to settle the Tauranga claims with generous redress.

One member of the Tauranga Tribunal – the honourable Dr Michael Bassett – has written a five-page dissenting opinion in which he takes issue with three of the general findings of the majority members. These are: that the Crown was not justified in taking military action against Tauranga Maori in the 1860s, that the Crown breached the Treaty by individualising the tenure of Maori land at Tauranga, and that the Crown failed to adequately supervise the alienation of returned Maori land. However, despite his dissenting views on these points, Dr Bassett concluded that the other Treaty breaches suffered by Tauranga Maori were serious enough to warrant generous redress from the Crown. He states in his opinion that, ‘my conclusions do not warrant any lessening of the quantum of settlement made with Tauranga Maori.’

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