Monday, November 30, 2009

Proud to be Ngai Tahu

This is quite a long post. I cover a bit of ground from the recent insults to Ngai Tahu over the maori party and national ets deal, a little history and then I discuss why bringing Ngai Tahu and the four other iwi into the ets debate is just a white elephant. I also talk about what i think the various parties are up to.

Have you noticed all of the insults to Ngai Tahu because of the ets deal recently? How often have we heard about fat-cat, and elite southern gentry corporate iwi called Ngai Tahu. It's Ngai Tahu and four other iwi, no doubt there is some unintentional compliment in there because of the mana of Ngai Tahu but is it really true? Are Ngai Tahu a fat-cat, elite iwi taking advantage of the country and other maori to line their already fat-cat pockets?

The many people who think and say that Ngai Tahu are a fat-cat iwi know nothing of Ngai Tahu.

Ngai Tahu have struggled against high odds to be in the position they are in today. It didn't happen by chance, it was a result of a lot of hard work, from iwi members at all levels of the iwi. The inferences you make about the iwi insult all Ngai Tahu IMO.

Do you know who you're talking to?

Ngai Tahu whanui are unique. We are Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Waitaha. Our ancestors lived in Te Wai Pounamu for generations. We are a people of this land just like Tuhoe are a people of theirs.

This information is from the Ngai Tahu website. I encourage you to read it and think about it. Our story is real.
“Ngāi Tahu, our tribe had its first contact with Pākehā (European) sealers and whalers from around 1795. By the 1830s Ngāi Tahu had built up a thriving industry supplying whaling ships with provisions such as pigs, potatoes and wheat. Shore stations were established from 1835 under the authority of local Ngāi Tahu chiefs.
We are smart and learnt early the new ways. What a true partner in this island and country we could have been if we were allowed to have our land and our resources and the ability to develop our desinty.
Many Ngāi Tahu women married whalers, and the tribe was no stranger to European ways. When seven high-ranking southern chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, it was seen as a convenient arrangement between equals.
"By 1849 when the Crown began defaulting on the terms of a series of ten major land purchases dating from 1844, earlier suspicions of the Crown's good faith by some of the Ngāi Tahu chiefs were confirmed, and the Ngāi Tahu Claim 'Te Kerēme' was born.”
“When Ngāi Tahu first took its case to the courts, in 1868, the government passed laws to prevent the Courts from hearing or ruling on the case.”
and from the Waitangi Tribunal
"The Tribunal cannot avoid the conclusion that in acquiring from Ngāi Tahu 34.5 million acres, more than half the land mass of New Zealand, for £14,750 pounds, and leaving them with only 35,757 acres, the Crown acted unconscionably and in repeated breach of the Treaty of Waitaingi".
"As a consequence, Ngāi Tahu has suffered grave injustices over more than 140 years. The tribe is clearly entitled to very substantial redress from the Crown"”
“Ngāi Tahu received cultural redress in the form of confirmation of the ability for Ngāi Tahu to express its traditional kaitiaki relationship with the environment, tribal redress, an apology from the Crown, acknowledgement of the role of our taonga Aoraki and economic redress in the form of a payment of $170 million plus the ability to purchase property from the Crown.”
The iwi has taken those assets and built them and developed delivery mechanisms to provide support for iwi members. That hasn't happened by stepping on other iwi or anyone else in this country. Ngai Tahu has been and still is, more than happy to share knowledge both ways with other iwi and work together with them all on mutual projects. There is no rift between iwi, there are disagreements and personality/ego conficts but so what.

Ngai Tahu had to develop the corporate structure:Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, because that is the only structure the government would pay the putea to. It is a corporate structure but it has to manage a massive number of projects and businesses – equivilent to a corportation but quite different as well. The purpose of the corporation and business interests is to provide funding for the regeneration and support projects that Ngai Tahu does with its people. And that ranges across as many areas and projects as you could think of, from whakapapa and tikanga to wetland restoration - to support of education and health initatives. From a savings scheme to language revitilisation. There are so many projects, go here to see the full list. People moan that maori don't fix their own problems – have a good look – Ngai Tahu are working to fix theirs.

Is it just envy that causes people to call Ngai Tahu fat-cats?

A success building performance worries the weak and inspires the strong.

The claim was paid just over 11 years ago - that's 132 months. Ngai Tahu have proven that if you give maori the ability to manage their destiny they will do so. The putea was a fraction of what was taken or owed but it was something and it is taonga. Yes, Ngai Tahu can swing some muscle via it's relative Te Wai Pounamu economic size, and they do make mistakes but overall they are benign and often positive for everyone. Ngai Tahu add value to the community and to this country.

To use terms like fat-cat and elite, is lazy, rude and inaccurate. The evidence is right before you everywhere around the rohe, that Ngai Tahu are contributing to the betterment of everyone. But we won't be treated as plastic maori. The big error people make about maori in general and Ngai Tahu in particular is that they fail to realise the dynamic nature of the society. When europeans arrived maori weren't static they were on a journey of development, and they still are. Some people want maori to stay they way they imagine them to be, but that won't happen.

Just because we have worked hard and built our putea doesn't mean we don't have individual bad apples or people that take advantage – so what. You could say, “I was not talking about iwi members just the corporate elite.” Ummm who are these people? Who is flying around in a lear jet drinking $500 beers on the back of the iwi? There are no middle men here. the leaders of the iwi are part of the iwi and they are accountable to the people who elect them. When you call Ngai Tahu a fat-cat iwi you are insulting all Ngai Tahu. There are individual members of the iwi who are very rich, again so what? They didn't get their by stepping on Ngai Tahu heads – they played the game in the world and succeded.

The ets deal in regards to the denigration of Ngai Tahu is a white elephant. First the lay of the land as I see it.

Labour caused the formation of the maori party through the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Politics is the game of getting up front wins while appearing to be getting long term wins. Politics is shortermism dressed up as longterm vision. It is a finite game, ruled by the election cycle. You have to get the wins otherwise there is little point being there.

What win does the maori party want? Repeal of that hated law. That is the game. That is the goal. Everything else is secondary. Time will tell on the rightness of the path chosen. It is impossible to know at the moment whether the tradeoffs are worth it.
The really big problem for the maori party isn't the trade offs though – it's whether or not they can actually get any repeal in the way that they would want. And that stumbling block is National.

What win do the nats want? To stay in power. What will they do to achieve that? Whatever they have to. Would they break promises to the maori party to appease a middle electorate redneck majority just to stay in power? Yep without even blinking. Why would they do that? Because labour is pulling those people into it's orbit by appealing to their overt and covert racist mentality. What can we do? Well, we could do what they're doing.

So what's in it for labour. What win do labour want? Power again for sure but they also want to destroy the maori party.They want their maori seats back. They want to protect their maori from the bad maori. They also want to split the nats from maori – a bit of wedge driving. It's a fair strategy but the cost to labour is something they may have underestimated just as they did when they enacted law on the Foreshore and Seabed. Labour is building a track record of this – whether the misguided and simpleton approach of trying to find dirt on john key to their utter disbelief that the electorate would reject them so resoundingly. They are making a big mistake. Many forgave but few have forgot the rogernomics years but that was the labour party in action. They continue to riducule the feelings of betrayal and disbelief from maori around the Foreshore and Seabed law.

Labour have abdicated their left credentials and clearly stated the centre or middle is their ground – move over National. The vacume in the left will be filled, perhaps by the greens, or some new entitiy. I'd like to see a maori left part to contest with the maori party and also in the general seats. The days of the dinosaur big parties is nearing the end and no refenedum on MMP will save them.

The only party that actually cares about the ets and the dismal prognosis for the future is the greens. Powerlerss, they can only stand and watch the freakshow that will be copenhagen. Too little too late – leaders of the world you have let us all down.

This so called deal between the maori party, 5 iwi and national is a white elephant because the maori party don't really care about Ngai Tahu and their redress. The maori party want the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the subsequent vesting of rights with maori. National just want the ets legislation passed. The 'world leaders' all seem to have made a pact to turn up to copenhagen with their hands washed. National seems to be in the mood to do and say anything to get to copenhagen with the deal done – I wonder why?

And Ngai Tahu itself, I can only give my thoughts but Ngai Tahu made it clear what the purpose of the land was for – to create a farming base for the iwi. They were prepared to go to court to seek legal judgement. Have a look at the history of our iwi – we don't go to court without a good case. Ngai Tahu believed that they could prove that the crown knew about the likelihood of the accumulation of debits and withheld that information, deliberately, to enhance their side of the negotiations. Don't forget the context – this is the negotiation for the apology and redress to the iwi, from the crown for injustices, deceits and lies over many many years. Ngai Tahu didnt and aren't asking for anything other than fairness. Whether the case was sound or not, will not be known but the fact that this injustice has been somewhat rectifyed is actually good and not related to any deals between the maori party and national. It was a wrong that had to be righted and convienently it was able to be righted within these negotiations. It should have been righted anyway. It is not related to any deals at all. Yet Ngai Tahu get tarred as if it was their fault. We get called fat-cats fro wanting fairness. I listened to Mark Solomon on Jim Moras show and although he was treated rudely he got his points across. There was a wrong that we were prepared to fight to get righted. It is quite simple. The crown knew that the land was to be used to develop farms for our people. Once again people looking after themselves – that is a good thing. I'd like them to be organic, self sutaining, energy efficient, permacultured, communities that provide models for others to follow.

I'm proud to be part of Ngai Tahu whanui – to have a strand of whakapapa that connects back to the ancient times. I have lots of other whakapapa lines as well they are all me and we get on fine. If you really think about Ngai Tahu and the struggles over the years and the struggles now, to maintain and build our culture one person at a time, against insurmountable odds of distance and 'kiwi' culture you would be proud too, of Ngai Tahu. If you read our stories of what and how the land and everything in it became and coexists you would be grateful that that knowledge is still around. The land was named and the passes known when europeans arrived. They saw waste and unproductive land while Ngai Tahu whanui saw bounty and histories and knowledge and connection. To judge Ngai Tahu, by calling us a fat-cat iwi and elite, some kind of high gentry farmers, is to understand nothing of us; all you are doing is showing your ignorance.


Anonymous said...

Can you please enlighten what Ngai Tahu have done for their iwi.

Certain so called leaders abuse, intimidate their own whanau.

Of course its all swept under the carpet, abuse of positions causing uncalled grief for families.

Ngai Tahu is a bloody discrace.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon

I am Ngai Tahu and an active runaka member and while I have concerns about certain people who want to direct dosh to their own pockets (Representatives included)there is much to celebrate.

In short - I as an iwi member consider I have made a contribution and not as a paid person with my hand out - but as a volunteer as most Runaka members are

I suspect the question you intended to ask is what has TRoNT done for the iwi. If it is what you meant I disagree - if you have not got benefits from being a member it is because you are not looking in the right places and not participating.

As a result of TRoNT initiatives I am able to connect both to my past, shape the present and the future as a result of the Settlement opportunities and the funding available via the NT Fund, funding to PR, programs run by the Office and my Runanga, not to mention the direct monetary benefit offered to Whai Rawa members - some many millions of dollars a year for over 10 years has gone into our communities as well as preserving and growing the capacity to continue to do this into the future

our rights as iwi members have been secured and protected and so on.

However, I sense you prefer to see the bad rather than the good ...

Anonymous said...

Dear anon..

I'm not looking at the bad...JUST REALITY OF WHATS IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES. Many are yet to see the good...

Look at the public display of what has gone on for the last few years.

A leader who refuses to step down even when his kaumatua's have asked on national tv for his resignation.

In house fighting for New Zealanders to watch through newspapers and tv.

Fantastic example of unity and professionalism.

I have participated and looked in the right areas only be told I'm not entitled, yet I know of people who have about one drop of Ngai Tahu blood can get handout galores.

If your in with who's who it seems to make a difference.

Look at the thousands spent on stupid glossy mags and on those who receive ridiculous amounts of money to attend meetings.

This goes without saying the amount of misused Ngai Tahu Money.


Add it up, every Ngai Tahu member could get free dental or free health per year.

Oh no lets spend millions on flashy offices and pretty pictures.

How can Ngai Tahu rights of iwi be secured and protected when certain rununga's still can't even get their act together for democratic elections.

EG Kaikoura rununga, still in discussion process with Whakapapa Unit.. What for??? You still don't know who the fuk you are?

This is not a good example, your kaiwhakahaere's people can't even get a election together...

As for Whai Rawa, great idea for those who have spare money to save.

A third of Ngai Tahu iwi live week by week and in debt on low incomes.
So tough luck... aye

Anonymous said...

To Anon III

You have some fair points regarding the prioritisation of spending and ensuring that there is more to go around for tribal members.

We can't afford to do everything for everyone, and the tribe should not (and cannot) take over from the Crown in the health and social services area.

We could do more but will never do so if we don't keep growing the putea etc which in turn requires investment in people and, dare I say it, in somewhere for them to work from.

It is easy to say HQ is too big employs too many non-Ngai Tahu and so on - such a soft target. Simple facts are that without those employees the putea would not sustain this generation let alone those going forward.

Clearly you don't like Mark - your call but as has been said before it is not he who is running the Kaikoura election process. If you are a member there then get along to the meetings and put pressure on the executive.

There are others who have been delaying and are further behind than Kaikoura. And then there were the others where the Chairs of the Runanga were clearly deeply involved in the process to ensure the election of either themselves (Tahu) or others (Wally and Nuk).

I can't see them as leaders with a mandate either.

Anonymous said...

Kia ora Anon 3
This is good korero and many of your points are relevant, but how can you blame the Kaiwhakahaere?
He has one vote at the table and isn't it appropriate that his runanga is making their own electoral process decisions, NOT as a directive from the Kaiwhakahaere just because he is the Kaiwhakahaere, a much safer and democratic process than what has happened at Tuahiwi, Rapaki and Otakou - think about it AND what kaumatua asked Mark to stand down and for what reason - I whakapapa to Kaikoura and have most minutes so what on earth are you talking about? The Public display you spoke about in your korero - you have just contributed to keeping it going.

I do agree however that Ngai Tahu needs a better Social Responsibility Agenda than they have and not focus on just Article 2 issues.

The other thing I want to put out into the general forum - the Corporate HQ is a mess and I lay that squarely at the feet of the CEO - who is at times unkempt (at least he is paid enough to dress appropriately), half of the staff work from home, some days you go into the office and probably 2 persons are working on a floor so why do we bother paying the high city price for a glossy building.

The TRONT reps get it all laid on for them and in the meantime we have a high % underclass living in poverty and over 10 years since the settlement our people are still over-represented in the social welfare system, justice system and so on.

Anon 1 - you are right about the abuse of the positions there is a lot of grief for an iwi with a $500 million asset base and 40,000 odd population base to raise the benchmark.

So few of that 40,000 attend runanga meetings because of the abuse that goes on there, absolute dictatorships, and most decent people prefer to stay away. At the Tuahiwi meeting yesterday there was lucky to be 8 people and average of 15 - 20 per meeting. It's just the same on drone that goes nowhere.

So like anon said "the glossy magazines" - that really isn't who we are, yes millions have gone out into the community but it's the same ones benefitting, some of the others are whakama and very humble and feel the crassness of the rah rah is not the same as kanohi ki te kanohi.

Anonymous said...

What are Ngai Tahu doing for the high % of their people living close to poverty when the highly paid staff are achieving little?

Comment No 5 (December 7, 2009 4:20 PM) is so appropriate. Where are you and why don't you go to work for Ngai Tahu?