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David Rankin

David is a chief and elder of Ngapuhi who is not afraid to speak it as he sees it.

Iwi leaders' water claim "nothing but corporate greed"

Iwi leaders’ water claim “nothing but corporate greed” says Ngapuhi academic

As iwi leaders from around the country meet to discuss claiming commercial rights to all the country’s lakes, rivers, reservoirs, dams and any other fresh water, Ngapuhi academic David Rankin has questioned their motives.

Mr Rankin, who is currently undertaking a PhD on traditional property rights, points out that prior to the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, Maori never owned water. And even after Europeans arrived, Maori never owned water. He says that there is no cultural basis or historical precedent for the claim. Neither is water Treaty right according to him “Water is not mentioned in the Treaty once. ‘Taonga’ are mentioned, but these are not property rights. A ‘taonga’ traditionally was something that could be acquired at the point of a spear. Try doing that with water”, he says.

Mr Rankin believes that the attempts by iwi leaders to grab hold of water rights is just a case of opportunism. He sees a pattern emerging where if Maori leaders thump their fists long enough about a resource, they will acquire it. He points to the foreshore and seabed, Auckland’s mountains, some national parks, mining rights, forestry rights, and radio frequencies as examples.

“Tribal trusts boards are not about Maori, they use the iwi names as a front for their commercial ventures. The average Maori receives as much benefit from them as the average European: none,” says Mr Rankin. “As proof of this, even though iwi now measure their wealth in the billions of dollars, Maori are poorer now than at any other time in living memory”.

Maori are not the indigenous people of New Zealand

The status of Maori as the country's indigenous population could be in danger if research, which suggests previous civilisations lived in New Zealand before Maori arrived, is proved true.

Ngapuhi leader David Rankin said books by authors such as investigative journalist Ian Wishart and historian Noel Hilliam presented "clear evidence" that some of New Zealand's earliest residents might have arrived before the Polynesians.

He pointed to numerous Maori oral histories which referred to people being here when the first Maori arrived, including fair-skinned people.

"If we believe our histories, then we as Maori are not the indigenous people of New Zealand."

The archaeological evidence in some research was a potential challenge to the status of Maori as indigenous, which was why he believed no other Maori was prepared to speak publicly on the issue, Mr Rankin said.

Details of much of the country's past was being concealed by academic historians, he said.

"I would say it's a conspiracy. They are worried that their own research will be exposed so they have worked hard to ridicule and suppress any Maori history which disagrees with their views.

"However, the tide is turning and more people are now seeing that there is a whole history of our country that has been concealed and which will have major implications for Treaty settlements for example."

To the Ends of the Earth, a book Mr Hilliam co-wrote with New Zealand pre-historians Maxwell C Hill and Gary Cook, published earlier this year, detailed evidence the authors said convinced them that Greek-Egyptians and others sailed to and settled New Zealand long before the arrival of Maori.

The 378-page book showed ancient maps detailing the coastlines of Australia and New Zealand and first drawn before the birth of Christ. Skeletons, rock carvings, stone buildings and monuments and oral tradition all attest to people of European origin living here for centuries before the arrival of Polynesians, the authors said.

David Hone Heke Rankin on the Waitangi Tribunal and the entire Treaty gravy train
It may surprise many New Zealanders, but a growing number of Maori are fed up with the Waitangi Tribunal, and the entire Treaty gravy train. There is a stereotype of Maori collecting millions of dollars in settlement money and living the easy life. The reality is very different. Here are a few facts:

1. The Tribunal makes up history as it goes along. A growing number of New Zealand historians are pointing this out, although most of them are labelled as racist for doing so. Facts are omitted in Tribunal reports, and evidence is shaped in some cases to fit predetermined outcomes. As an example, I gave evidence at a Tribunal hearing about my ancestor Hone Heke, the first chief to sign the Treaty. However, because the oral history of our whanau did not fit with the Tribunal’s narrative, my testimony was excluded. Yet, several radicals with little knowledge of our history had their testimony included because it fitted with the separatist agenda. This leads to point 2.

2. In the 1970s, many of us hoped that the Tribunal would be an organisation that would achieve reconciliation. It has turned out to be a body that is bringing in apartheid to New Zealand. This sounds dramatic, until you see how it advocates for race-based access to certain areas, and race-based management policies for Crown land.

3. Treaty settlements make tribal corporations rich, with the help of favourable tax status and often little or no rates to pay. So with these advantages its pretty easy to become super profitable. But do you think the average Maori sees any benefit from this? None at all. I have been asked several times to be on trust boards and have been offered large sums of money to do so. I refuse. History will judge the kupapa (traitors) who have abandoned our people for money.

4. The tribunal is a bully. Go against it, and you will be labelled a racist or worse. Yet, who does it help? Apart from a few elite Maori who have become millionaires from the process, there is no benefit to Maori overall. Drive through Huntly or anywhere in Tuhoe and you wont find any evidence of these multi hundred million dollar settlements.

Lets be clear. The Tribunal exists to make lawyers, and a few elite Maori very rich. It has deprived our people from their birthright and divided and destroyed many of our communities. The sooner it is shut down the better.

David Hone Heke Rankin
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