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WAI 262 - Insights and Perspectives

Te Ururoa Flavell
MP for Waiariki
Monday, October 10 2011; 11am
Te Puna Matauranga, Te Awamutu (Te Wananga o Aotearoa)

WAI 262 - Insights and Perspectives

There are many reasons why is a perfect time to be speaking to the Ko Aotearoa Tenei: Report of the Waitangi Tribunal into claims concerning law and policy affecting Māori culture and identity (Wai 262).

First and foremost, I acknowledge all of the claimants for the pathway they laid down in the historic claim they first took to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1991 (WAI 262).

Just over a month ago, the whanau of the six original claimants from Ngati Kuri, Te Rarawa, Ngati Koata, Ngati Porou, Ngati Wai and Ngati Kahungunu came together at the tangihanga of the last of the claimants, the kuia Saana Murray.

And so we think of the journey they went through, the passion and commitment they endured until their dying days, forever waiting for resolution.

The WAI-262 Claim on indigenous flora and fauna and Māori cultural and intellectual property rights was lodged twenty years ago, and the Waitangi Tribunal hearings were completed in 2007.

Resolution was not achieved in the lifetime of the original claimants; but there is no turning back for those left behind. We must carry the torch of those who lead the way before us.

But there is another reason I am particularly pleased to be talking to this report today.

Just 24 hours ago, Waihoroi Shortland, the Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tokerau, launched his campaign by announcing our Te Tiriti o Waitangi policy.

A key aspect of that policy is our commitment that whanau, hapu and iwi will lead the response to the Waitangi Tribunal Report’s on WAI 262 with our full support. We state also that we will encourage our people to engage in the discussion of implementing the findings; and so I am very pleased to be here today – at Te Wananga o Aotearoa – to be discussing something of such critical importance for Aotearoa as a whole.

And indeed, this institution is uniquely placed to be discussing such a pivotal report.

I want to reflect on the thinking that Buck Nin has captured in Ko Te Uaratanga o Te Wānanga o Aotearoa - Mission Statement:

Ko te whakarite mātauranga e hāngai ana ki ngā wawata o tēnei whakatupuranga, ki te whakaū hoki i ngā moemoeā o ngā whakatupuranga o te ao tūroa, ki te whakatikatika kia mārama ai ki te hā o te ao tawhito
Ki te whakatō ki roto i te hinengaro tangata te mōhiotanga o ngā taonga tuku iho, tō tātou reo, tō tātou Māoritanga e pai ai tā rātou torotoro i ngā iwi o te ao i runga i te māia me te manawanui
Ki te whakamana i te pūmanawa moe ki te ako hei taumata e hīkoi whakamua i roto i te ao hou
Ki te whakatakoto takoha e whai hua ai. Kia manawapā anō
Kia mutu tonu, he kāinga pai tēnei ao

To provide education that best fits the aspirations of this generation, enhances the dreams of future generations, prepares for understanding the essence of past generations
To equip people with knowledge of our heritage, our language, our culture so they can handle the world at large with confidence and self-determination
To empower one's potential for learning as a base for progress in the modern world
To make contributions of consequence. To care
To make our world a better place

In so many respects, the investment made in making the world a better place by the learning provided at Te Wananga o Aotearoa reflects the aspirations of WAI 262, Ko Aotearoa Tenei.

The report concludes that New Zealand wins when Maori culture is strong.

It is the first Tribunal inquiry written from a ‘whole-of-government perspective – and it is the first Tribunal inquiry to specifically address the Treaty relationship beyond the settlement of grievances. In this way, it makes it blatantly clear, that the defacto position of setting up historical Treaty settlements as the principle vehicle for protecting matauranga Maori and taonga, is neither sustainable nor fair and just.

The report urges the Crown to be bold; to dare to have the courage to enact a genuine commitment to the Treaty principles, through control of taonga where that is justified, and an ‘infusion of the core motivating principles of matauranga Maori – such as whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga – into all aspects of our national life’.
I want to talk in more detail about two of these aspects – te reo and matauranga Maori – as being particularly relevant to what you do here at te Wananga o Aotearoa.

But I want to firstly just set the scene of the challenge articulated by the report, and I quote from its first chapter:

Doing nothing is not an option. In fact, we think New Zealand should take a leading role in developing a domestic framework for the protection of taonga works and mātauranga Māori.

This report is a new lens through which our identity can be crystallised. It is the vehicle through which our relationship with the Government can evolve. And it is the means by which our kaitiakitanga can be entrenched for our future generations.

The report speaks of things Māori upheld and treasured since our ancestors, or ‘Kupe’s people’ as the report refers to us, arrived on these fair shores.

It refers also to Pakeha, or ‘Cook’s people’, and the relationship between our peoples as essential to the way we look at ourselves and our culture. It is also described as necessary to find a whole new approach to economic prosperity and ‘social cohesion’.

The Tribunal’s response note that the change has come about because of greater Māori participation in the economy by iwi organisations, urban authorities and individuals. This progress has been possible because of a combination of the Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlement process and the natural evolution of generational attitude changes to the disparities existing between Māori and Pakeha. The Māori Renaissance has well and truly dawned and the light is upon us now.

The Tribunal’s vision is this:

“Demographers tell us that to assure the economic well-being of New Zealand in the next generation, the growing Māori workforce and Māori capital must move from the margins to the core of our economy, and quickly.

It is obvious that law and policy must be developed with the express and urgent objective of capturing – not squandering – Māori potential.

This choice is not about pandering to the Māori grievance industry or preying on Pākehā guilt, as the detractors would have it. It is about gearing up to meet the challenges of a future that our grandparents could not have predicted.”

It sets out, therefore, a clear challenge that our future health and wealth as a nation must strike the balance between the interests of Māori and Pakeha so that they no longer have to compete to the point where one interest prevails at the expense of the other.

I said earlier, that a crucial platform in our Treaty policy is to encourage our people to engage in the discussion of implementing the findings from the WAI 262 report – to bring the perspectives of whanau, hapu, iwi to the fore.

A number of important Māori artists, academics, business people and lawyers gave evidence during the Inquiry and a number of those people have spoken publicly about the report since it was released in July.

Aroha Mead gave evidence on behalf of Ngāti Porou. She noted that the Crown can no longer see itself as ‘Pakeha’ and refer to Māori as ‘the other’, especially because the Crown has taken over decision-making rights for many aspects of Māoritanga, including place names.

Tā Moko artist Mark Kopua commented that the report has good intentions. It is a motivating factor for Māori to legitimately push forward and assert their tino rangatiratanga over their taonga, but the hardest part is finding the collective strength to come up with solutions that work for everyone. But one thing that the Government must remember is that the relationship that Māori have with their taonga is akin to their whakapapa. They cannot own it, they must belong to it. It must be a part of them.

No amount of money can buy an ownership right to taonga or haka, or a bird-snaring ritual or the healing powers of manuka honey or karakia. It is about allowing Māori to have a say and not to be scared of a new and innovative approach. For Māori artists, this report sits alongside their work because they are already doing what the recommendations are telling to Government that it must effectively facilitate.

Renown Ngati Kahungunu lawyer, Moana Jackson expressed his disappointment that the report did not go far enough. He was critical about the Tribunal’s apparent lack of commitment to Māori rights. He also criticised the choice of the Tribunal to use the word ‘interest’ over the word ‘right’, because it implied that Māori were only entitled to something that was less than the legal notion of ownership.

This, he says, caused the media to jump and exclaim that all was ok New Zealand, Māori do not own the forests and the birds. And so he has asked the question – how does the Tribunal’s report, match the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi? How does it align with the right to tino rangatiratanga, to self-determination expressed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Does the report confirm the inherited right of Māori to control how taonga are protected?

This is a useful place, I believe, to look at two particular aspects in the report, to get the grips with the detail of its findings.

Chapter 5 deals with Te Reo Māori, and I want to read directly from the report as it establishes a clear position of its status.

“Not only must there be a great concern about the language’s health, therefore, and in particular the health of the tribal dialects, but there must also be a deep unease about the Crown’s responses to the situation. In the late 1970s, after decades of governmental neglect or worse, te reo had reached a time of crisis. But Māori action breathed new life into the language. In fact, so powerful was the Māori commitment to revitalisation that, in the 1980s and early 1990s, it practically knew no bounds.

How else can one explain the growth, in just a decade, of the kōhanga reo movement from nothing to the scale of its operation in 1993? How else should one view the surveys at that time that showed enormous Māori demand for Māori-medium education?

We suspect that, but for bureaucratic and political failure to capitalise adequately on this momentum, te reo Māori would not be in such a worrying state today.” (Page 469)

This last sentence is a damning indictment of Kawanatanga as a bureaucratic and political failure.

In essence it says – as so many other reports have also indicated – that Government initiatives are not working. The number of speakers of te reo Māori is decreasing.

But it puts the challenge fairly and squarely between the Treaty partners. Māori and the Crown have an equal obligation to save the language and the challenge should be confronted in the form of a pure expression of partnership.

The problem will not be solved without unreserved commitment, motivation and passion for the cause. The two parties must be willing to work together with an agreed set of objectives, the first of which is use of the language wherever and whenever possible, in Government, in the courts, in the workplace, in schools, in the home.

The status of the language will therefore be heightened and alongside these initiatives, reforms should be made along two clear pathways:

Te Taura Whiri o Te Reo Māori should function as a Crown-Māori partnership and could be the lead language sector agency with increased powers to help develop and approve of Māori language plans in central and local Government departments, State-funded schools, State-funded broadcasters. The agency could also help develop and approve of all State-funded school te reo curricula, set training targets for te reo Māori teachers. Te Taura Whiri can then regularly report back on their progress.

And equally important,

Local iwi become te reo Māori authorities in their rohe, their planning and decisions being implemented into planning by the central agency.

These recommendations must form an essential part of our forward planning – as the Maori Party- and as whanau, hapu and iwi.

From the perspective of the Maori Party, we are certainly committed towards advancing the drive for the revitalisation strategy for te reo rangatira while also ensuring better co-ordination of the range of language initiatives currently existing.

We must keep our paepae warm; encourage our whanau to learn at home; live, speak, think, dream in te reo. Ko Aotearoa tenei – this is our culture, our identity, our foundation.

We must take urgent action to address the policy failures of Governments to date. If we are committed to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi, then we must be committed to the survival of te reo.

The second area I want to touch on is that covered by Chapter 6 – When the Crown controls Mātauranga Māori.

As each of you will be aware, Mātauranga Māori is Māori knowledge. This includes Māori language, science and technology, laws, history, systems of property and value exchange, and rituals and ceremonies. It also includes forms of expression such as art forms like weaving, carving, tā moko, haka, whaikōrero, and so on.

But, more fundamentally, matauranga Maori incorporates core Māori cultural values Of these, the defining principle of mātauranga Māori is whanaungatanga, or kinship – the philosophy that explains the intimate relationships between iwi and hapū and the natural world. Another core value is that of kaitiakitanga, or cultural guardianship – the system of law through which iwi and hapū are obliged to nurture and care for taonga (treasured things).

The Waitangi Tribunal looked at the concept of Matauranga Maori as very much part of the crossroads that we face as a nation. The crossroad represents the extraordinary cultural renaissance of tangata whenua and the rise of Maori creativity in the arts, music and literature contrasted with the ongoing cultural loss, and the ongoing challenges around economic growth and social cohesion.

So what is the role of the Crown in guiding us through the crossroad? Let me, again, refer to the report:

“There are some Crown agencies for which mātauranga Māori is very much core business. Working in education, the arts, culture, heritage, broadcasting, science, and archives and libraries, these agencies engage with mātauranga Māori in a variety of ways. Some are its custodians, some its owners; others fund it, while others again are responsible for transmitting it.

As such the Crown is practically in the seat of kaitiaki. For instance, today Māori children often learn about their culture in schools rather than at their koro’s knee. Documents in archives and libraries may be the most complete sources of particular knowledge. The State often provides the key financial support for the creation of taonga works. All of this places particular obligations on the Crown to protect both the mātauranga itself as well as the interests of kaitiaki in it.” (Page 491).

It is evident, therefore, that the Crown argues that they have the right to govern.

Provided that they consult actively with Māori over issues relating to the use, education and protection of taonga works and mātauranga Māori, the ultimate decision about the way forward lies with them.

So do we just leave it up to the protocols and policies dreamt up in the administration of mātauranga Māori such as Te Papa, the National Library, Archives New Zealand, NZQA and the Ministry of Education?

I say not. Protecting and transmitting mātauranga Māori is a responsibility shared between Māori and the Crown. The parties need one another to bring forth a willingness to co-operate and find common ground.

The Tribunal recommends principles based on working together; and I want to share some of these approaches as a basis for your further discussion:

Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage should take a leadership role to improve the levels of co-ordination and collaboration between agencies that look after mātauranga Māori, perhaps with the help of a Crown-Māori partnership entity;

• For the Protected Objects Act, Te Papa help private owners of artefacts work with kaitiaki, Māori to share decision-making capacity alongside the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. There is the suggestion that a restitution fund should be established to enable kaitiaki to reacquire their taonga on the open market;

Creative New Zealand have a research project called ‘The Health of Māori Heritage Arts’ – this should be used as an information base for identifying funding priorities and criteria, TPK to use Marae survey to identify improvement needs for Marae, TVNZ features more Māori language and cultural awareness programming, perhaps teaming up with Māori TV;

• There needs to be a constraint on the commercial use of mātauranga Māori in documents and images held by the Crown in archives and libraries. This can be achieved by including kaitiaki in decision-making;

• The establishment of Crown-Māori partnership entities in education agencies;

• The establishment of Crown-Māori partnership entities in research, science and technology agencies which is responsible for making decisions that boost research and funding capacity for mātauranga Māori and ensures priority is given to such initiatives.

I come back to your own mission statement at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, 'To equip people with knowledge of our heritage, our language, our culture so they can handle the world at large with confidence and self-determination'.

Ko Aotearoa Tenei demonstrated the need for valuing rather than ignoring or avoiding the interests and responsibilities of tangata whenua in the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expression.

It sets up a challenge to question how the Crown currently manages the custody or control of taonga Maori or traditional knowledge.

And it invites us to be part of the national debate that is required, to demonstrate respect for Maori culture and identity.

We know that the recommendations contained the report, when implemented are set to become the policy revolution of the century. Anyone can reform policy. But it takes the political will of a bold Government; and the united call of a passionate people to carry through the legacy of the original claimants into the brave new future envisaged. The Maori Party believes that not only can we do that – but we must –for the future wellbeing of our mokopuna and their mokopuna after them.

I want to leave the last words to Justice Joe Williams, presiding officer of the Wai 262 Inquiry:

“You will see that the reforms we propose are wide-ranging and detailed. They need to be, to address the problems we have uncovered. But, more importantly, they are the building blocks of a big and audacious vision, a perspective on a country of the future whose founding cultures have made a lasting kind of peace, where they have given one another the room each needs to grow and, with new confidence, made space also for the later migrants to join this unique project.

We are ambitious but not unrealistic. After all, this is Aotearoa, built on a Treaty partnership that we may yet perfect.”


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