The process of settling Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi was initially fraught with controversy, but has now become an accepted and at times celebrated part of our identity. Nearly 30 years since the first settlement, many Māori groups have seen spectacular commercial success, but many questions remain. Michael Neilson reports.
In 1840, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei occupied about 38,000 hectares of land in and around what would become New Zealand's largest and most prosperous city.
By 1952 the hapū owned nothing but a quarter-acre (1000sq m) urupā in Okahu Bay, where their dead lay.
In one of the final acts of desecration, the Crown burned down hapū homes at Ōrākei, then regarded as "a dreadful eyesore and potential disease centre", which happened to be on the route the Queen would take during her official visit.
The land's original occupants for generations were shifted up "boot hill" into state houses.
It was not just a loss of land, though.
Forty years before, the Crown had authorised a sewage outfall pipe into Okahu Bay, polluting the hapū's feeding ground.
"We were landless, almost language-less and had all but lost our culture," said hapū trustee Sharon Hawke.
In 1977, when the Government decided it wanted to develop houses on its sacred site of Takaparawhau, or Bastion Pt, the hapū decided enough was enough.
A 506-day occupation ensued, and although the hapū and supporters were eventually taken off their land by force, it proved a lightning rod for the Treaty settlement process, culminating in the hapū's own 2011 settlement.
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The $1b hapū
Fast-forward to 2019, and the situation for the hapū could not be more different.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is one of the Auckland's wealthiest landowners, with land holdings of about 167ha in and around the CBD, including Quay Park and Spark Arena.
The more than 4000 members make up one of three tribal groups across the country worth more than $1b. The wealthiest - Ngāi Tahu and Waikato-Tainui - each have about 70,000 members.
Takaparawhau is back in hapū, and public, hands, and is one of the city's most treasured and visited sites.
Now, if Auckland Council – or the Government – want to do anything in the rohe (area) of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, they seek approval from the hapū first.
If they do not, they are no longer met with placards, but big-shot lawyers.
In 2015 then-Housing Minister Nick Smith learned that the hard way when he announced plans to sell off Government land for state housing, without offering first right of refusal to mana whenua.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei sought a judicial review, and several months later the Government backed down.
History of one-sided hospitality
The hapū had long welcomed English settlers into their whenua.
In February 1840, chief Te Kawau and six others travelled to the Bay of Islands to invite Governor Hobson to live with them, partly out of hospitality but also to seek protection from their enemies.
On March 20, Te Kawau and other chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi and by September, the British flagstaff was raised at what is now the top of Queen St, Auckland, becoming the country's capital.
The hapū sold about 3000 acres (1214ha) to the Crown for a township to be established for £341.
Six months later, just 44 acres (18ha) of that land was resold to settlers for £24,275.
The money was used to build roads, bridges, hospitals and other services for the new town, and hence the early development of Auckland was essentially paid for by profits made from the sale of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei's land.
Much of the land passed over to the Crown was done voluntarily, and in good faith. But the Crown did not act in good faith.
Between 1840 and 1842 the hapū transferred more than 30,000 acres (12,140ha) to the Crown in return for around £640 plus other goods.
By 1842 the Crown had made profits of £68,865 for only small parts of that land.
What followed were decades of similar dealings, broken promises and injustices against the hapū.
In 1859, they gave land at Takaparawhau to the Crown for a defence post against a feared Russian invasion.
The land was given on the condition that if it was no longer required, it would be returned to them.
Instead it was given to the Auckland City Council, which later attempted to develop houses on it, sparking the Bastion Pt occupation.
From 'virtually landless' to big city player
The hapū reached its settlement with the Crown over breaches of the Treaty in November 2011.
It included $18 million (including $2m through the Railways Settlement in 1993) commercial redress, various forms of cultural redress, and an apology.
The Crown acknowledged then its actions had left the hapū "virtually landless".
"This state of landlessness has had devastating consequences for the social, cultural, economic, spiritual and physical wellbeing of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei that continue to be felt today."
The Waitangi Tribunal's 1987 report was even more blunt.
"A proud and loyal tribe that supported Auckland and the Crown, was through the connivance of both made virtual refugees, a disillusioned, scattered and landless people.
"If we have any understanding of the Māori attachment to tribe, home and place, only the most insensitive could fail to appreciate the enormity of Ngāti Whātua's loss, or the latent danger in the legacy of bitterness and anger that was theirs to inherit. For this is also a tribe that has refused to die."
Hawke said that 252-page report was "essential reading" for anybody who called Auckland home.
As a descendant of Te Kawau and daughter of Joe Hawke, one of the Bastion Pt occupation leaders and the hapū's first claimant to the Waitangi Tribunal, politics has always been in her veins.
"When you are oppressed you either raise spirits and fight back, or lay down and die. We chose not to lay down and die."
For her father, the political spark came in 1952, as he held his weeping grandmother's hand and watched as her home was burned down by her Government.
"That was an impressionable image for a child, to think what was going on here, asking why they were getting kicked up the hill.
"My dad instilled in us strong values, the sanctity of papatūānuku, and whenua."
Another fire, during the Bastion Pt occupation when her cousin Joanne Hawke died, further "entrenched the kaupapa" for Hawke.
"That sense of tragedy built a commitment to the kaupapa to see it to the end."
The 2011 settlement had enabled the hapū to build up a substantial economic base, but for Hawke it meant nothing if it did not raise the standard of living for all members.
"All we want to do is provide warm, good homes for our dislocated people."
While the hapū's settlement was small relative to others across the country, it negotiated a right of first refusal redress for 170 years over surplus Crown-owned properties and other specified properties in the Tāmaki Makaurau region through the Tamaki Collective deed of settlement.
This paved the way for it to purchase some former navy land at Devonport, where the hapū has vast housing development plans.
The hapū has an investment focus in Auckland property, including central city apartments, a retirement village in Ōrākei, and grand future plans including construction at Bayswater on the North Shore.
Those investments have seen the settlement grow to $1.2b (June 2018).
Its developments have a strong focus in Māori values. Its 2018 management plan, Te Pou o te Kāhu Pōkere, involved embedding and "mainstreaming" kaitiakitanga, guardianship and conservation, into its developments.
These are present in the housing development behind Bastion Pt, Kāinga Tuatahi – or first place – conceived and financed by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to house its hapū members.
It redistributes profits to members through education and housing grants, and provides cultural and language courses. It has also established savings and health insurance schemes.
In 2018 it issued more than 1000 education grants worth $379,000, and had 2213 members registered with its saving scheme, Toi Tupu.
Its health clinic had 4636 registered patients and 2622 members were enrolled in health insurance scheme Toi Ora.
Hapū done well despite 'modest' settlement
University of Auckland law professor Dr David Williams said the redress for the hapū - as for all others - had been "extremely modest", given the injustices it suffered.
"They have done well in spite of the settlement process, not because of it.
"Part of that is down to the fact their settlement is in downtown Auckland, but they have had some very smart leaders and made some wise investments."
Williams, who has consulted for the hapū, said despite the injustices against it, the hapū continued to give back to the city.
"They were a very marginalised people. What they have done for themselves since settlement, and the city, is something that should definitely be celebrated.
"People sometimes forget that the redress, even given it is very minor compared to what they could have received, or perhaps should have received, is being directly reinvested back into this city.
"Open spaces like Taraparawhau, too, are undeniably better managed now under the hapū and council partnership than they ever were."
For Hawke, though, despite the financial successes of the hapū, the settlement process was never going to fully address the breaches of the Treaty.
"We were never going to get what we wanted. To progress though, we had to do as good as what we could, with what we were given.
"We have purchased land, are developing land, and have become a big player in the city.
"Now we are training ourselves to be good governors for our assets and with the tasks ahead, to allow our descendants to be employable, educated, to know our history, know they are working for a community, a collective, wellbeing of hapū and iwi.
"Under the intergenerational framework, the decisions we make will impact 10 generations forward, similar to what my tupuna Te Kawau did when he fronted the land court to protect the whenua."