"Historian Dame Judith Binney has slated John Key's refusal to return ownership of Te Urewera National Park to Tuhoe, saying his claim that it created a precedent was "quite wrong".
Tuhoe's situation was unique, and Key "could have responded to it if he'd understood the history clearly". The Crown had not acted honourably in its dealings with Tuhoe and it was time it did, Binney said.
The Crown's confiscation of large amounts of Tuhoe land during the wars in 1866 and 1867 "was not justified and neither has it been compensated for".
Moreover, in 1896 the Liberal government of Richard Seddon had passed a law giving the tribe a large degree of self-government or tribal authority over its area – a measure that was "absolutely unique", Binney said.
After Seddon's death in 1906, the government moved further away from the concept of Tuhoe tribal authority, and by "awful pressure and brutality" had acquired about 330,000 acres of Tuhoe land by 1921.
The government passed an act in 1916 "to retrospectively legalise all the purchases up till that point". In 1958 the Urewera National Park was formed out of land that Tuhoe had owned in 1896.
The government should now "give back the land or a form of authority over the land", Binney said.Well there it is all laid out in black and white. The land was stolen and confiscated illegally in a unfair, exploitive way. It is time to sort this out and it is time for the government to stop trying to wriggle out of it's obligations to right wrongs.
I am very pleased that Dame Judith is healing well from her accident.