Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wai 262 - it's big

Well the Wai 262 report has been published and it is a wide ranging long document that unfortunately I have not been able to read yet. But I have read the fact sheets and I’m getting my head around what the report is saying. So this is just an initial reaction and I’ll continue to add thoughts and other commentary as it comes along. I don't mean to be too negative with the report as it was needed after such a long wait, but some of the language makes me feel a little uneasy - have I got it wrong and are seeing shadows? 

It is time for the Crown–Māori relationship to evolve from one based on historical grievance to an ongoing partnership based on mutual advantage. This partnership must secure the place of mātauranga Māori in New Zealand law, and in government policy and practice. This partnership is what the Treaty of Waitangi envisaged. But it is also necessary for New Zealand’s future – for its prosperity and its sense of nationhood.
This term ‘historical grievance’ is a problem for me – it seeps some sort of blame and is a loaded term. Yes there is a ‘historic’ nature to the claims and relationship but the same exploitation is happening today to Māori. As it always is in the Māori world the past is there, and the future, within the now.

‘Mutual advantage’ is a nothing term  and I just don’t feel very good about the language and tenor of that whole bit.
This lack of a place for Māori culture in contemporary law and policy compounds a wider picture of social disparity, reflected for example in educational performance, employment and incomes, and the current crisis in Māori health. It also continues a national story in which the Crown, either deliberately or through neglect, has largely supported one of New Zealand’s two founding cultures at the expense of the other.
Hang on, ‘one of two founding cultures’ what the hell does that mean? I’m sorry but that is not right IMO. That is diminishing the mana of Māori. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by rangatira and the Crown. There was no settler government or culture. Yes the kiwi culture has developed since then but the Treaty was with the Crown. There is Māori culture, the indigenous native culture of this place and then there is everyone else. All others who have come and made this place home, all those who have been born here and died here, who have loved here and cried here. All have been welcomed, all are welcome to come to this place of Māori.
Yet these concerns mask the underlying good will and respect that characterises the relationship between Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders. This good will is making the settlement of historical injustices possible. And once those injustices are resolved, it can provide a basis for the nation to move forward, for the Crown and Māori to establish a relationship based on mutual benefit, and for New Zealand to develop a new national identity based on the partnership between our founding cultures.
I’ve already talked about the ‘founding cultures’ bit. The ‘goodwill’ is an amazing term considering the whole process from start to finish is designed and managed by the Government to help achieve their aims. Is this term supposed to imply some choice in the matter? The Government offers the settlement and the Iwi says yes or no – that isn’t choice or consultation or discussion or partnership – it is the same old same old.
The Treaty of Waitangi gave the Crown the right to govern and enact laws, but that right was qualified by the guarantee of tino rangatiratanga (full authority) for iwi and hapū over their ‘taonga katoa’ (all their treasured things). The courts have characterised this exchange of rights and obligations as a partnership.In this context, tino rangatiratanga means that iwi and hapū are entitled to exercise authority over their mātauranga, and to exercise authority over their relationships with taonga such as cultural works and parts of the environment that are significant to their culture and identity, so that they can fulfil their obligations as kaitiaki.
That is good and I have found while reading the documents that there are many good bits.
Ko Aotearoa Tēnei provides a framework for Treaty partnership in 21st century New Zealand. It makes recommendations for forms of partnership in many areas of Crown activity, including education, science, culture and heritage, conservation, resource management, indigenous flora and fauna, language, and patents.

Another good area but the next bit is not so good in my view.
This framework does not seek to elevate Māori cultural interests inappropriately above the interests of other New Zealanders. In a modern, democratic New Zealand, the ‘full authority’ envisaged by the Treaty will no longer be possible in every case. But the framework does seek to ensure that Māori interests are at least at the table when decisions are made – so they can be fairly and transparently balanced alongside other interests, rather than sidelined as they often are now.

I just don’t understand this language – ‘inappropriately’ WTF are they writing this with Don Brash in mind or what. I’ll goddam ‘transparently balance’ some other interests all right cos at least I’ll be at the table. I thought the Waitangi Tribunal had more grunt than this pacifying stuff – just be quiet or you’ll upset people.
The path that embraces partnership recognises and values Māori culture as one of New Zealand’s founding cultures. In so doing, it provides Maori with a positive platform from which they can address social issues and contribute to national prosperity; it moves the Crown-Māori relationship from one based on grievance and negativity to one based on mutual advantage; and it provides the basis for future in which all New Zealanders can look forward with optimism to a shared future. It is, the Tribunal says, time to perfect that partnership.
What can I say that I haven’t already said – told off I have been, I’m negative and just saturated with grievance, along with many if not most of my brothers and sisters – we just have to get off our arses and give it a go – instead of hitting the bottle, the bong or the kids – then we can have some mutual advantage and we can optimistically look forward to shared future – yay

As usual the Waitangi Tribunal can only recommend and the Government will decide what, if any, to accept and put into practice.

This is just the introduction because the other fact sheets are intriguing too – what do they mean when the say Māori don’t own indigenous fauna and flora? What do they mean by ‘own’? Lots of questions but lest it seem that I am completely down on this report – I’m not, I am pleased it has been released and it covers so many important areas – I thank the authors and researchers and I only wish that it could have been sped up because the time taken has been a disgrace.

Good response from these politicians

But Maori Party MP Rahui Katene, daughter of one of the original claimants John Hippolite, said the report had been watered down and politicised. "The claim is about tino rangatiratanga or Maori control of things Maori," she said. "The report goes nowhere near dealing with that." The tribunal identified only one breach of the Treaty of Waitangi - the Tohunga Suppression Act, 1907, which banned rongoa (traditional healing). The act was repealed in 1962. But Katene was scathing: "To say there is only one breach is really ignoring the reality of what happened to each of those claimant iwi, and iwi all around New Zealand."

Lawyer Annette Sykes, counsel for one claimant group, said her claimants had asked Mana Party leader Hone Harawira about taking their concerns to Parliament.
  Good stuff also from Joshua and Simon

1 comment:

Simon Lambert said...

Ae, I'm starting to get a little nervous. Perhaps the wording you note is a reflection of the relationship between the Maori Party and National? Nothing direct, of course, but it seems way more conciliatory than I would have picked a few years ago.

The size of this beast - pages, breadth and depth - mean we can only analyse it over an extended period of time, perhaps dissipating its impact (to the disadvantage of Maori), and although we can all point to areas of interest, how can it all come together?!

So just a big long 'hmmmmmm' from me at this stage.