History has seen Auckland contested many times, so the iwi are well used to defending their patch.

For generations, Ngati Whatua have been forced to defend our mana and people when neighbouring iwi have come to claim our land and separate us from the generations of our ancestors buried here.

In recent years these invasions have been in the courts, or through words, often involving the rewriting of history or selective memory which is encouraged in the western legal process.

This happens even when the devastation is fresh in the minds of those who were there, when injustice continued to visit our people.

The speech by King Tuheitia Paki at the weekend was a fresh attempt to take our lands and another surprising incursion into politics and other matters unbecoming of the paramount chief of Tainui. An event that should have brought Maori together was instead used for a poorly timed land-grab by the poorly advised King.


Clearly it was geared to ensure the gathered media, officials and leaders, including Prime Minister John Key and his ministers, were on hand to hear that Tainui are trying to sweep into Tamaki and that hapu and iwi, including my people, Ngati Whatua, need to be on guard.

The speech was an attempt by those close to the paramount chief of Tainui, particularly former Tainui treaty negotiator Tukoroirangi Morgan, to use the coronation as a platform to seek public support for another Treaty of Waitangi claim.

The Waikato-Tainui Raupatu claim, which had its 20th anniversary this year, has helped swell the Tainui coffers to more than a billion dollars. It was followed by the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010, which was negotiated by Mr Morgan and co-negotiator Lady Raiha Mahuta.

Tainui are currently in negotiations regarding their harbours.

Waikato-Tainui also received a top-up of about $70 million at the end of 2012 from a relativity mechanism in its settlement that enables the iwi to claim additional redress if the total value of settlement redress exceeds $1 billion, as valued in 1994, which was reached in 2012.

Tainui clearly are good at Treaty negotiations. Many iwi are yet to achieve a single settlement, including the country's largest by population, Ngapuhi, a tribe both Ngati Whatua and Tainui along with many iwi were forced to resist following Ngapuhi musket-led invasions.

The distinctive and delicate nature of claims to Tamaki is the result of a thousand years of migration and settlement by myriad hapu and iwi.

Over 400 years of migration, wars and conquest saw hapu and iwi such as Ngaoho, Ngati Huarere, Ngati Awa, Ngaiwi and Ngariki come and go.


Eventually they were displaced by the large tribal group known as Waiohua around the early 1600s. Waiohua, too, would be forced to move to another part of Tamaki as invaders from the Kaipara took control of the main isthmus, including the largest fortress at Maungakiekie, One Tree Hill.

The descendants of those Kaipara invaders, who came to Tamaki to right a wrong, continue to live and flourish upon the lands of their ancestors. Their headquarters are no longer on that prominent summit, where a large obelisk now stands above the remains of Sir John Logan Campbell bearing words of farewell to the Maori race.

They are based instead near the land once known as Bastion Point in Orakei. Forcefully removed from their marae and village in 1952 at Okahu Bay, these resilient people would be forced to fight another brutal battle in 1977-1978 under the leadership of visionary Joe Hawke.

Prime Minister Rob Muldoon would find out that the Ngati Whatua people were not the type to walk away from a fight, if that fight was righteous and honourable.

A claim to Tamaki Makaurau will be anything but simple for Tainui, if one is even lodged. Latest reports suggest Tainui missed the closing date for claims in 2008. Furthermore, many iwi and hapu based in Tamaki already have Tainui pedigree, such as Marutuahu, Ngati Te Ata, Ngati Paoa, Ngai Tai and Orakei. However, some of those groups operate independently of the Tainui structure.

After the King's speech last week I suspect many hapu members will now seek further separation from those old social and cultural ties. Looking across discussion on social media from our young people and reading news reports, I can hear the drums of fierce resistance. I certainly hope that when all the dust has settled those old relationships are not forgotten.

As for the so-called Ngapuhi (David Rankin) claim, we will leave him for another day.

• Joe Pihema (Ngaoho, Te Taou, Ngati Whatua, Te Uri-o-Hau) is a Maori Studies lecturer at the Eastern Institute of Technology.