I last wrote about the Mohaka-Waikare confiscation injustice. This injustice was corrected by the Tribunal, but not before creating fresh grievances among Tareha's descendants.
To link back to the curriculum, the foundations of our nationhood are grounded in a racial hierarchy. It comes from a European imperialist idea of civilisation. Picture it as a pyramid; at the top, the civilised, in the middle, barbarians, and at the bottom, savages.
Below are historical examples in action.
Despite the common view of Maori as savages incapable of politics, Napier MP Donald McLean sought to correct Maori parliamentary exclusion. He explained in 1867, Maori paid £45,000 in taxes and still owned three-quarters of the country. "On these bases alone, Maori should not feel that parliament excluded them."
The 1868 Maori Representation Act enabled my tipuna (ancestor), Tareha Te Moananui, to be an MP and the first Maori to speak in a settler-colonial parliament – a first for an indigenous person in any European empire in history.
Years later, colonial leaders attended the 1911 British Imperial Conference. British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith praised leaders for the "common trusteeship" given to all races. In contrast, New Zealand and Australia's leaders advocated exclusionary policies based on race.
Domestically, they backed no direct allusions to the civil rights of indigenous people, while internationally, appealing for imperial sympathy to keep borders closed to all non-European migrants. New Zealand's then Prime Minister Joseph Ward said "the matter of racial purity ranked in importance with defence". These historical examples suggest a policy and ideology that lingers to this day.
In June 2004, the Waitangi Tribunal released its Mohaka Ki Ahuriri report. The report covered 20 Hawke's Bay claims spanning from the Tutaekuri to the Waiau rivers. Regarding the Mohaka-Waikare confiscation, the Tribunal found the Crown had breached Treaty principles for attacking those at Omarunui and following land confiscations. The report recommended compensation to those Wai 299 claimants whose land was stolen.
In determining the Crown's Treaty obligations to the Wai 299 claimants, it excluded any findings to those named in the original 1870 Mohaka-Waikare deed (including Tareha and his descendants).
The findings abandoned Tareha's interests to produce favourable outcomes for the Wai 299 claimants. The Treaty principle of equity recognises that the Tribunal avoid making findings that create fresh grievances.
After the report's findings, four groups sought mandates to represent various hapu and iwi in Treaty settlement negotiations.
In 2009, the seven hapu of Ahuriri gave their mandate to Mana Ahuriri Incorporated. One of the key aspects of all settlements is the Crown apology, which includes formal Crown acknowledgments and a historical account.
The historical account sets the context of relations, the Crown acknowledgments record the harm leading to the apology.
As explained, the events at Omarunui and subsequent Mohaka-Waikare confiscation do not lend themselves to a goodies-versus-baddies story.
It requires a careful truth-telling approach.
In a worst-case scenario, the Crown recorded the conflict at Omarunui as Crown versus Maori in the Ahuriri Hapu Deed of Settlement. In October 2016, the Tareha whanau warned the Crown that it would damage relations and create fresh grievances if it mis-recorded the historical evidence. In November 2016, the Crown pushed ahead regardless.
The current debates about New Zealand's nationhood are rooted in our past. Despite attempts to reconcile, the Crown reneged on its promise of a robust and durable settlement to focus on expedient deal-making.
The Crown's stance made clear assumptions about power. The way forward must be inclusive and collaborative. The strands of the past must become the ties that bind, not divide.
* This opinion piece is the third of three pieces on the subject by Ngati Parau historian Mat Mullany