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Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill

Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Manawatu Arena, the venue at the heart of this Bill, hosted a massive 2064 events during the year, an increase of 132 on the previous year.

And yet in reports to Palmerston North City Council's finance and performance committee just two days ago, it was revealed that the organisation had a $85,480 deficit in the financial year to the end of June.

In comparable figures, Arena's equity is now down from $99,600 to just $14,121.

The deficit is due, apparently to the bad weather.   Nine speedway nights were affected by the weather, six cancelled outright and three transferred incurring low attendances.

But there is another cost which drives us to oppose this legislation at this third and final reading of the Bill.


And that’s the cultural cost; the community cost; of neglecting and rejecting the relationships with key mana whenua throughout Manawatu.


A significant submission received during the course of the select committee was that by Ngati Kauwhata.

Ngati Kauwhata pointed out the disappointing reality, that some three years on from the passage of the Manfeild Park Act, the Crown is again to enact another Treaty breach against Ngati Kauwhata, by means of this Bill.

One would have thought that a very basic assumption of Treaty justice would be that we wouldn’t seek to create fresh breaches on top of pre-existing claims.

We recall that the submission that Ngati Kauwhata made on the Manfeild Park Bill included the request that representation for mana whenua be provided on the Manfeild Park Trust Board. 

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This did not happen. 
However, Ngati Kauwhata continued with their quest for representation – both at Manfeild Park, and now in this case, with the Palmerston North Showgrounds.

And I have to put to the House the simple question I raised at the first reading of this Bill.


What would be so wrong with receiving the request from Ngati Whatua; with listening and considering their point of view?

What would be so wrong in letting Ngati Kauwhata be part of the governance stucture?

The reality is, Mr Speaker, there are many long-standing reasons for understanding that mana whenua are committed towards upholding their responsibilities as tangata whenua to protect the land and natural resources of their district. 

In the case of Ngati Kauwhata, in order to be able to honour these duties and responsibilities, there must be a clear understanding of the history of the people.

A history in which Ngati Kauwhata have been marginalised from their lands; trapped in poor health to forever keep them dependent on the Crown as beneficiaries.


And we remember the well established advice from Ngati Kauwhata member, Professor Mason Durie, that basically the lack of access to tribal land must be woven into explanations of the chronic poor health status of Maori.
Ngati Kauwhata contend that the land in question is part of the Te Ahu-turanga block, taken from them by proclamation and is subject to two Waitangi Tribunal claims (WAI 784 and 972). 

 Ngati Kauwhata did not sell interests in the Te Ahu-turanga block – it was, in their view, taken by stealth and devious purchasing practices by the Crown and its Agents.
As the select committee members will be quite clear, they have asked that the bill be delayed until the status of the land in respect of ownership can be determined.

There are other reasons too – none the less being the fact that various Treaty claims are ongoing, including a new claim - WAI 1461 regarding the Rangitikei Manawatu Block.  This is a conjoint claim between Ngati Kauwhata, Ngati Raukawa, and all of the te reureu iwi;

So the Maori Party continues to oppose legislation that will allow Palmerston North City Council to take control of Arena Manawatu.

We understand that the council has effectively managed Arena Manawatu in the past two years and that this Bill is merely a formality.

But possession of ownership does not make it right.

To their defence, the Council has undertaken public consultation on the change and have received no submissions in opposition. 

However, it does seem as if there has been any specific efforts to engage iwi.  The Council advised that iwi specific consultation is more on environmental and cultural matters, rather than regarding its strategic economic assets.

The council’s submission to select committee does not discuss any consultation that they may have had or not had with local iwi, including Ngati Kauwhata.

One of the key assumptions made, however, about how this Bill enacts with the heritage and research of Ngati Kauwhata is that they believe they have the right to at least have the land in question considered as part of their claim.

In the end, that is something forthe Waitangi Tribunal to investigate, consider and determine – not the select committee – nor this Parliament.

We cannot, in good faith, support this Bill.


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