Letter To The Chairman Of The Nga Puhi Runanga
Open Letter To The Chairman Of The Nga Puhi Runanga
Tena koe Sonny,
I would first like to thank you for the role you played at Waitangi this year. The feedback about the events has been positive, even in the media!
There is, however, a matter of grave concern that Nga Puhi urgently needs to address, and this is the approach to our Treaty claim. There has been a fairly firm suggestion from you, Hone Harawira, and others, that we not seek redress through the Tribunal, and instead, approach the United Nations.
The basis for this - apparently - is that the Tribunal cannot deliver a satisfactory settlement to us. Hone asked the question on Saturday: 'What will our grandchildren think of us if we accept just 3% of what we are entitled to?" My question is: "What will our grandchildren think of us if we turn down millions of dollars to seek redress through the United Nations and end up with nothing?
Acting on principles is fine, but we are a pragmatic people, living in a pragmatic world. Principles will not pay for university study for our young people. Principles will not allow for the economic development of Nga Puhi. Look around at cases like Ngai Tahu. They settled for a similarly small amount, and through prudent management, are now one of the largest corporations in New Zealand. We should trust ourselves and our leaders, just as Ngai Tahu did, to manage any settlement to our long term benefit. And as for seeking redress through the United Nations, we must all acknowledge that the UN does not make enforceable decisions, and does not have the authority to deliver to us even one square foot of land.
I recall my great grandmother, Matire Ngapua, went to the League of Nations in the 1920s on behalf of Nga Puhi, and was unsuccessful. There is no precedent for the UN having returned anything to indigenous peoples anywhere in the world. I hope we are not so naïve as to believe they will deliver anything concrete to us.
Sonny, the Tribunal is unsatisfactory - we all agree with that. But it is the best option we have. When I look at some of our people living in shacks, with no power or water, and few prospects for getting out of the poverty cycle, I could not look them in the face and say we will work to resolve our poverty issues through the UN. It would be a waste of time, and a tragedy for the future o Nga Puhi. I would urge immediate reconsideration of the iwi's stance, for the benefit of all of us.