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A Warning On Treaty Settlements - Harawira

International Indigenous Nations Treaty Summit

November 12-13, 2006

Treaty Six Nations’ Territory, Alberta Canada

Enoch Cree Nation, Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations

“Using the Treaty of Waitangi as a basis for Maori / New Zealand political relations”

A Warning On Treaty Settlements

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau


My name is Hone Harawira. My history is as an activist for Maori rights, and a supporter of indigenous struggles all around the world.

Following a massive protest throughout the country in defense of Maori rights to the foreshore and seabed, ending with a march of 40,000 people on parliament, I was elected in 2005 to represent my tribal area, as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament, under the umbrella of the newly formed MAORI PARTY.

Maori Party

The MAORI PARTY is born of the dreams and aspirations of tangata whenua (the people of the land) to achieve self-determination for whanau (families), hapu (subtribes) and iwi (tribes) within their own land; to speak with a strong, independent and united voice; and to live according to kaupapa (principles) handed down by our ancestors.

The vision for the MAORI PARTY is based on these aspirations, for they speak to us of whanau whose wairua (spirit) is strong and vibrant; who have fully developed their spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical well-being; and who are confident, secure and pro-active in all aspects of their lives.

Treaty Settlements

As a new Member of Parliament, I have had to give a lot of thought to my position on the settlement of Treaty claims by the many tribes of Aotearoa (New Zealand). I have spoken to claimants, activists, other MPs, elders, tribal leaders, party members, politicians, and ordinary people on the street. I have talked to people who were involved in the first settlements, groups who have recently settled, and to people from tribes that have yet to settle.

A warning

We gathered here today at the International Indigenous Nations Treaty Summit, are all fighting for the affirmation of our treaties, justice for generations of people wronged, and a positive and peaceful future for generations yet to be born.

As part of that struggle, I would like to give you a snapshot of our Treaty settlement processes, and some of the problems we face in Aotearoa in trying to achieve treaty justice.


The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, between the British Crown and Maori as a recognised sovereign people. In its most simple terms, the Treaty ceded governance of the country to the Crown, in return for a guarantee of sovereign authority by Maori tribes over their resources.

As has been the case all over the world where colonial powers have signed treaties, the Treaty of Waitangi was broken before the ink dried on the document, and has been breached on countless occasions ever since.

In 1975, the Waitangi Tribunal was established by the Crown to consider claims under the Treaty of Waitangi, and a treaty settlement process was established soon after that.

In 1991, the Crown offered to settle all treaty claims for one billion dollars. The Treaty settlement process has been a contentious process ever since Maori first rejected that offer.

Since then however, some tribes have settled, and others are currently at various stages of the settlement process.


However, ever since the settlement process began, claimants and lawyers have expressed grave concerns about the process itself, the terms of settlement, the amount set aside for settlement, and the agency charged with managing settlements.

Those concerns have come from claimants and their lawyers all round the country. I list some of those concerns here as a warning for what you may face in the years ahead:

Settlement Process

• Treaty settlements should be to settle grievances arising from Treaty breaches.

• But the Crown has unilaterally set all terms of settlement.

• The settlement process should be determined by both parties affected by Treaty breaches.

Settlement Entities

• The Crown only works with groups which fit Crown plans, even if those groups do not represent traditional structures, and even if sub-tribes and tribes are left out of those groups.

• The Crown is also insisting on dealing with what they call “large natural groupings”.

• Because of that, smaller tribal and sub-tribal claims are being denied due process.

• Maori should determine the entities to represent their interests.

Appointment Of Negotiators

• Negotiators are chosen by their people to represent tribal claims for valid reasons, but the Crown is insisting on approving who can represent treaty claims.

• It is wrong for one party to determine who has the right to represent the other party.

• Each party should determine who their negotiators will be.

Quantum - $1.3billion

• In 1991, the Crown said the country could only afford $1 billion for treaty settlements.

• Since that time however, the Crown has:

• bailed out our national bank for $1 billion;

• bailed out our national airline for $2 billion;

• taken nearly $1 billion every year in tobacco tax alone and

• announced a surplus of $11 billion in its 06-07 budget.

• Clearly, the Crown’s $1b settlement budget is far too low.

• The quantum for Treaty settlements should:

• be agreed to by both parties;

• reflect the need for just settlements;

• not be limited by the budget of the day.

Value of Settlements

• In coming to the table to settle claims, the Crown has a policy of offering less than 3% of the real value of claims.

• In settlement of those claims, the Crown has a policy of paying out less than 2% of the real value of claims.

• Maori are being forced to accept far less than their claims are worth.

• Settlement values should be agreed to by both parties.

Body To Consider Treaty Claims

• The Crown established the Tribunal to consider Treaty claims, sets out the Tribunal's authority, and approves Tribunal members - but refuses to be bound by Tribunal rulings.

• The body to consider treaty claims should be established with the agreement of both Treaty partners, and given such powers, authority and accountability as both parties shall agree to.

• International Indigenous Forums should play a role in monitoring all treaties for compliance.

Full And Final

• Although treaty settlements are massively stacked against Maori, the Crown is insisting all settlements be “full and final”.

• Given the lack of commitment to fair and equitable settlements, it is entirely likely that future generations will revisit the claims being signed off by this generation.

• Treaty settlements should not be “full and final”;

• Treaty settlements should reflect the ongoing nature of the Treaty relationship.

Future Generations

I know that claimant groups want to settle long-standing grievances and move forward in a positive way. But I also know that signing off on excessively unjust settlements consigns future generations to deal with that which we could not finish, and we hamstring them by agreeing that our settlements are in fact, “full and final”.


Maori people have a long way to go before we can achieve justice for our ancestors, and for our grandchildren. We need to:

• affirm the traditional principles which will guide our future direction;

• build strength and capacity within our tribal homelands to achieve more than just economic parity; and

• build the knowledge base to help us succeed as indigenous people, in a developing world.

And we need to build alliances with all other indigenous peoples of the world, to draw strength from one another, to learn from one another, and to show active support for one another.

Coming here and sharing with you all is a positive step in that journey.

Kia ora koutou katoa


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