Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ngati Whatua and Maori claims

Recently there was a front page article regarding the Ngati Whatua claim (the largest tribe in Auckland prior to Pakeha settlement) on parts of Auckland. It included three volcanic cones, a creek and sections of Waitakere, North Shore and parts of Manukau. There had been an agreement in principle over these but this has been cancelled after a lot of criticism of the process. This will delay proceedings considerably.

Prior to the recent developments. I knew this claim was in action but the tension surrounding it became more clear when I visited a marae for an AIESEC event. Our hosts offered a little bit of Q&A for us. They seemed quite sensitive at times and went into lengthy explanations that led all questions to their claim. At the time I thought that it might be a response to the general criticism that Maori tribes get due to a perception of claiming for everything to get money (a perception that is not true). It was likely though that they knew things were getting tricky and that their claim was hitting the rocks. It wasn't their fault of course - they had followed the process set for them and jumped through the requisite hoops. The Crown had failed to consult other smaller tribes of Auckland before they made their agreement in principle. The editorial yesterday was particularly of interest:


One thing that always annoys me is the degree of ignorance of the Pakeha majority (and also the migrants to NZ) regarding Maori issues. It is hard to change this of course. My parents both have quite strong views on Maori claims, but with no real knowledge apart from hearsay and subtly racist catchphrases.

One of the PC-myths perpetuated due to ignorance was that One Tree Hill still hadn't had a new tree planted on the summit because the council had to pander to Ngati Whatua for 'consultation'. But if you were in legal proceedings regarding a claim of ownership, it would not be easy for one of the parties to make changes to that land. It is not political correctness - it is a legal necessity.

The more recent claim WAI 262 is of particular interest to me. I'm not sure if I support it or not.
If you haven't heard about it, check this out:


Claiming the flora and fauna is rather gob-smacking. Under libertarian principles, this would seem to be a good thing. Ownership can mean that more responsibility and resources are put into retaining the varieties and methods. Also it prevents the rape of genetic resources by multinational pharmaceutical companies which has happened in other countries. But still the degree with which a minority 'own' all the native trees in your yard etc. and legally require consultation for to make any changes is something to ponder over. We can't always disregard the claims that affect us and approve of the ones that don't, but the whole practicability of such a claim as well as the fears that it inspires is quite disconcerting. It is similar to the Foreshore and Seabed claim in that way. I supported the latter in principle even though it was cancelled by parliamentary bill.

Anyway, those are my musings on things Maori.

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