Settlements validate claims

Maori supremacists argue that because the govt is paying out on historical claims, those claims are valid.

They say, it is very easy to compare recorded history with Waitangi Tribunal history because all sources are provided in Waitangi Tribunal reports.

Those tribunal reports contain both history and spin.

Let's look at the Ngai Tahu grievance for instance.

Ngai Tahu, the tribe that sold the South Island, had received five settlements, between 1868 and 1998, of what started out as a single complaint.

Moreover, a top-up relativity clause in the tribe’s agreement means their settlement just keeps on giving.

Ngai Tahu had sold much of the South Island before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and the treaty commitment to investigate pre-1840 sales enabled chiefs to sell the land again -- in 10 deals over 20 years from 1844 for a total of £14,750.

Despite receiving a substantial amount, (about $1.6-million in 2014) for undeveloped land, Ngai Tahu complained about an alleged inadequacy of reserves in the 20-million acre 1848 Kemp purchase. An inquiry in 1868 into these reserves meant a further 4930 acres were granted. This was the first settlement..

Although happy in 1868 with the settlement, Ngai Tahu started to argue that the award should not be regarded as final.

Continued complaints led to the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906, which granted 142,463 acres of land to settle 4063 “landless” Maori. This was their second settlement.

Complaints continued. The Native Land Claims commission was appointed in June 1920 to investigate 11 petitions and claims by Maori in different parts of New Zealand, including that of Ngai Tahu regarding the Kemp block purchase.

This commission calculated compensation by working out that the Kemp purchase involved 12.5 million acres of commercially viable land once the Arahura block, the Banks Peninsula block, the reserves actually provided, and “absolutely valueless land”, such as snowy mountain tops, waste beds of rivers, and precipitous cliffs were deducted.

They deducted the purchase price paid of £2000 to give £76,125 and to this added 72 years interest at 5 per cent (£274,050) to give a total amount of £350,175. A sum was added to recognise Ngai Tahu expenses bringing the total sum to £354,000. This commission recommended a lump sum payment of £354,000..

This calculation formed the basis of redress paid in the Ngai Tahu Claim Settlement Act 1944 which awarded £300,000, payable at a rate of £10,000 a year for 30 years. This was Ngai Tahu’s third settlement.

Southern Maori MP Eru Tirikatene, a member of the Ngai Tahu tribe and the Ratana movement, guided this settlement through.

Annual payments to Ngai Tahu were scheduled to end in 1973, at which time the settlement was debated yet again, with claims that the 1944 settlement had not been widely discussed or accepted.

Southern Maori MP Whetu Tirikatene Sullivan, Eru Tirikatene’s daughter, rejected those claims and said there were 109 movers and seconders of formal resolutions at as many as 80 meetings accepting the compensation. Payments of $20,000 a year in perpetuity were awarded to Ngai Tahu in 1973, the tribe’s fourth settlement.

Once the Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act 1985 enabled inquiries into claims all the way back to 1840, Henare Rakiihia Tau supported by the Ngai Tahu Maori Trust Board revisited all of Ngai Tahu’s old issues. Ngai Tahu filed a general claim dated August 26, 1986, which was widened through six amendments to reach 36 claims by 1988.

The claims resulted in a further $170-million payout in 1997, the tribe’s fifth settlement.

In 1995, the Bolger National government proposed a $1-billion limit for the settlement of all historical claims known as the fiscal envelope, a proposal that was dropped before the 1996 election because of strong Maori opposition.

Therefore, the Ngai Tahu agreement includes a relativity clause that entitles the tribe to 16.1 percent of all settlements once the $1-billion (in 1992 dollars) total is reached.

That total was reached in June of 2012. Ngai Tahu received $68.5-million in 2013 but disputed the amount and the matter went to arbitration.

Ngai Tahu received an allocation of carbon credits in November 2009 after Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon threatened court action over the claimed cut in the value of forest assets resulting from the proposed Emissions Trading Amendment Bill.

The Maori Party supported the Key Government’s Emissions Trading Bill in return for carbon credits for tribes.

Despite multiple ballooning settlements over 146 years, Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon still thinks his tribe settled cheap. He told Television New Zealand’s Q&A show on June 6, 2010, that:

"Ngai Tahu lost 12 billion dollars worth of assets and accepted as a compensation $170-million. Do the maths. The fact that people in New Zealand argue that the settlements are far too high, if they looked at the reality of what Maori have lost, and then look at the compensation, Maori should be being thanked for the levels of the settlements they accept, not be derided by the rest of the community."

Upon receiving his knighthood in December 2012, Solomon, his first comment was that Ngai Tahu’s settlement “accounted for about 1.5 percent of what the tribe had lost”.

Ngai Tahu would have a much more substantial grievance against North Island tribe Ngati Toa as a result of a series of raids which resulted in the deaths of 400 at Akaroa and 1300 at Kaikoura but that happened before 1840 and there is no money in such a complaint.

By Mike Butler