New Zealand 141114: A Powerful Date for Maori, Or Just More Whitewash?

After another very lengthy (and costly) Tribunal, set up by the New Zealand Government, comprised of Judge Carrie Wainwright (presiding), Professor Wharehuia Milroy, Dame Margaret Bazley, and Professor Ranginui Walker, and was assisted by consulting historian and Tribunal member Dr. Robyn Anderson, the unanimous conclusion was that the Maori peoples NEVER conceded Sovereignty to the British at the signing of Te Tiriti O Waitangi (Te Tiriti O Waitangi).

Because of this, for well over a century, the Maori peoples have been treated as ‘second -class’ citizens within their own country. This has in many cases dramatically affected their health, their livelihoods, their status as landowners, their access to and protection of their ancestral heritage sites, and their ability to have any voice in the running of what was – and still is – their own country.

It is interesting to note that Chis Finlayson, Treaty Minister, basically dismissed the Tribunal findings out of hand, stating that the current New Zealand Government still holds Sovereignty over New Zealand. This quote, by him, typifies the attitude of many New Zealand politicians. “There is no question that the Crown has Sovereignty in New Zealand. This report doesn’t change that fact.” So why did the NZ Government commission such a Tribunal investigation, and why are they looking at the next stage of the Tribunal, which is to ascertain if and when the Government ‘assumed’ sovereignty? If the reaction is the same as it has been to Part 1 of the Tribunal, then why waste any more time and money on a report that allegedly will never be taken seriously by the current New Zealand Government?

The Maori people of New Zealand (or Aotearoa as they would prefer to call it), like many other Indigenous (or First Nations) Peoples around the world, are beginning to stand up for their dignity as a Nation in their own right, and not just some subjugated tribe of savages. The United Nations is very well aware of this, and allocates a lot of their time in supporting changes in these people’s status. So why will the New Zealand Government not take note of a Tribunal that they themselves had commissioned?

Towards the achievement of this aim, in 2006 the Maori Confederation of Chiefs bestowed on His Excellency Chief Charles Hohepa the greatest honour of the Maori Nation – he was SELECTED (not elected) to be the first Sovereign Mandate – the Sole Protector – of the Maori Nation. His Excellency Chief Charles Hohepa, has for many years been attempting to raise international funds that will see the status and the well-being of many Maori vastly improved, including the establishment of a new Capital City to be built at Waitangi, as the new focal point of the Maori Nation. He is doing this in his capacity of Sovereign Head of the Matua Karanga Foundation. To reach such an exulted position within a Nation requires a very powerful character with a strong moral code, as well as the ability to take a balanced view in any discussion or argument. This level of reputation, especially one based on mutual trust, is one that could very easily be destroyed.

Unfortunately even this exulted Maori status is but just a second-class level of citizenship, as can well be seen by the way H.E. Chief Hohepa was treated by the New Zealand legal system in 2007, following a 25 year old dispute over the trusteeship of the PWF (Peoples Worship in Freedom), an Outreach/First Aid Post facility to pick up people who were in crisis, or facing potential crisis or were victims of casualty and crisis situations.

In brief, several years ago, Chief Charles was incorrectly accused by people disputing his Trusteeship of the PWF, of trying to steal the assets of this charitable organisation, and they took him to court. Unfortunate for Chief Charles, especially in this instance, was the fact that he was not ‘Pakeha’, but a very well respected Maori Chief.

If the ruling elite of New Zealand were to have consisted of Pakeha and Maori, with equal status as has been defined by the outcome of the current Waitangi Tribunal, then a legal level playing field would have been established. In which case, the truth behind the shenanigans would soon have laid to rest any slur against “The Chief”. In the event, the New Zealand Court refused His Excellency Chief Charles Hohepa leave to present his own very clear and truthful defence.

A total travesty of justice that can never be sorted while Maori are treated as second class people in their own country. If so eminent a person as H. E Chief Charles Hohepa can be attacked by the New Zealand Attorney General with impunity, what help can there be for the poor Maori woodsman, or fisherman, or small farmer about to face compulsory purchase, or removal of his or her hereditary (Maori) rights, by an unsympathetic Government with no legal basis for acting?

Interestingly, the people who selected Chief Hohepa to his honoured position were fully briefed on the matter, and decided to dismiss the accusation totally.

A lot now rests on the ability of the New Zealand Government to honour its commitment, to allow the current Tribunal to complete the second stage of its investigations, but unlike the first stage, actually do something to allow the Maori Nation to acquire the status and ownership of the Nation it created, and never walked away from.