Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuhoe leading the way for other iwi

I agree with this call - let Tuhoe govern themselves. Dame Judith Binney's new book offers insights into our country, into our past and future and into us. Encircled Lands: Te Urewera, 1820-1921

From a Weekend Herald Article
"Once, not such a long time ago, in colonial New Zealand, Tuhoe were permitted to rule themselves within the boundaries of what was left of their land.
It was the late 1800s and they were the only tribe to gain legal autonomy from the Pakeha Government. For a short while. Then it was taken away.
The desire for autonomy never dulled though, nor was ceded by the Urewera mountain people; and today it is on the table again with John Key's Government, as part of a singular constitutional claim.
In a powerful new book on Tuhoe, eminent New Zealand historian Dame Judith Binney argues for that autonomy to be restored.
The time has long come, Binney told the Weekend Herald. She believes there is nothing to be feared from a separate Tuhoe nation operating within New Zealand and that the tribe has a strong case.
Such precedents exist around the world, she says, from Scotland and Ireland to Catalonia, which has been restored as an autonomous area within Spain, and the large Inuit state of Nunavut in Canada.
Her book makes plain that Tuhoe never wavered in their efforts to retain self-governance, from the moment colonists first began taking their land.
The book exposes in meticulous detail, gleaned from historical records and oral histories, the scale of the hurt inflicted by a colonial state hungry for farm land, and driven by the mistaken belief there was gold in the Ureweras.
Within the book's 600-odd pages Binney describes how every method possible - confiscation, war, poverty, sickness, starvation, fraud and ever-inventive legal mechanisms - was relentlessly exploited to take more land.
Just one of the many so-called legal methods used was to insist on surveying land, against Tuhoe wishes, only to charge huge sums for the survey then take the debt back in acres and acres of the best land.
It could be done and the benefits could be many.

This historian has written beautifully about Tuhoe - read this article from Catherine Masters to get a sense of her connection.

As Judith Binney says here,
"I think [in the 19th century] Tuhoe worked very hard to make self-government work but they were prevented from fully realising it," said Binney. "What I'm excited about is how it might look now.
"This is what Tuhoe want and there's no reason why it shouldn't happen.
"It would be very easy for an area to be recognised and to come to some flexible arrangement around how the rest of us interact with Tuhoe."
Can't wait to read this book - in fact i'm starting it this weekend.
"Binney has been researching and telling Tuhoe's stories for decades.
Her contribution was recognised by the tribe when it gave her a new name, Tomairangi o Te Aroha, which means the heavenly dews of love.
What an honour for a wonderful historian telling our stories - thank you.

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