COMMENT

I was in the same class at Waipawa Primary as Clive Bibby and remember him as an exceptional artist and good friend.

I have smiled with a "well that's your world view of the situation Clive," reaction to some of his contributions to this paper but having read his "Ihumātao a tipping point – honourable agreements reached in good faith should not be tossed to the wind," article I would like to offer my own version of growing up in Waipawa and the background from my experiences of so-called "legitimately acquired land" and whether or not they involved honourable agreements.

As a 15th generation descendant of a CHB ancestor I was raised by my grandmother and laughed at when speaking Māori at school.

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Subsequently, she spoke little reo to me and in 1958 I was sent to Lindisfarne College where I learnt Latin and French - neither of which have been of much use to me.

In July 1975 my father taught me when and where to go diving at Porangahau. Referring to my afro he also told me to "get a haircut, go to varsity and get a real job". So it was a shock to me when four months later at age 54 he died of a heart attack after shearing all day.

I realised after the autopsy informed us that he had already had two minor heart attacks that he knew he wasn't well.

After that, I went to Porangahau regularly and in 1976 I enrolled at Massey University extramurally where I took up two papers, Māori Language and Māori Society.

The Māori Society paper taught me that the effects of fragmentation (scattered interests) and fractionisation (multiple ownership of one block) were just two resultant instruments of the law which led to the alienation of Māori land.

For example, a Māori whānau farming land in Waipawa which had multiple owners sold the land because of pressure from other owners. If they wanted to build on the two remaining acres (0.8ha) they couldn't because of a law that required you to have 50 acres (20ha) to do so which was the major contribution to urbanisation at the time.

Conversely, Pākeha farmers like Clive's whānau do not have a multiplicity of owners and either leave the farm to one child, split it up among a small number of children or sell it.

The Māori world view is that the land is Papatuānuku our ūkaipō, a poetical term for "mother" and is there, like our waterways, to nurture us, hence the term kaitiaki that Clive uses to express our guardianship of it.

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However, the juxtaposition he takes in one paragraph of his family having "once owned a sizeable chunk ...of pristine farmland", and in another paragraph "being proud of our tenure as kaitiaki", seems to be a contradiction in terms which raises the question of how do we own something we are simply here to have kaitiakitanga or guardianship over?

Put simply "nōku te whenua" means "I belong to the land" as opposed to the land belongs to me. I have a whakapapa (genealogy) from Papatuānuku down to my great-grandchildren which means that we descend or belong to her not her descending from or belonging to us.

Halfway through his article Clive states that "Ihumātao represents an opportunity for a number of participants in this debate", but then expounds his views on one participant only, the Government's and their "responsibility to all mainstream New Zealanders".

The only reference he makes to the hapū is to refer to them as having "unsightly squabbles....and negotiating authority in what are only family disputes". Not a very good preamble to the compromise solution he then suggests.

If the compromise is to benefit all then this can only be achieved through a proper conflict resolution process where the needs of all participants are identified and solutions brainstormed to meet all their needs not just those of "mainstream Kiwis" paranoia that "honourable agreements made by successive governments and iwi are about to be tossed to the wind."

Politicians dance mainly to the tunes of mainstream Kiwis play so don't worry Clive that's not about to happen.

The fact that previous governments and their various agencies decisions to alienate Māori land through to the 1970s have had a devastating effect on whānau.

My personal experience was when my father died there was a statutory requirement that if you were worth more than a certain amount of money you had to pay death duties.

Because of the fragmentation of his scattered land interests, the income of which he received amounted to less than a month's groceries, we had to pay about $3000 in death duties. But wait for it – when my mother died less than a year later because she inherited 1/3 of dad's estate when this was added to her scattered land interests it cost us almost $5000 for her to die!

So what is an honourable agreement? I remember the Bibby family as being very honourable especially with Māori.

However, there is nothing honourable about the laws over the last 170 years that have alienated Māori land and while the sentiment of "past Treaty settlements being full and final" may or may not appeal to us lets not ignore the pecuniary dodgy deals that bailed out a South Island Finance company and another that got John Key his Australian knighthood.

Like Clive's whānau, honourable agreements should start at home first and because my grandparents put up a tent to begin our Porangahau farm in the early 1900s I will encourage my children and grandchildren to honour that as we did two weeks ago planting the riverbanks that are being fenced to honour our river and Papatuānuku.

Don Hutana has a masters degree in mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), a diploma in tertiary teaching, and is a trustee on his family farm.