E kore e pouri tonu, Waitara e mamae nei i te wa i mua rā.
At the end of May the Māori Select Committee will report back on the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/00DBHOH_BILL69946_1/new-plymouth-district-council-waitara-lands-bill)
The title of the Bill is itself a misnomer. It really should be titled “The final confiscation of the Pekapeka Block and other Waitara Lands Bill”, which is a much more appropriate and truthful title for the Bill.
I have written before about the Bill and the fundamental objective which is to enable the NPDC to sell the final vestiges (780 properties) of Manukorihi and Otaraua Lands that were illegally confiscated in 1865 and were ‘gifted’ by the colonial government to the Waitara Harbour Board and Raleigh Town Board which later became the Waitara Borough Council. (https://tewhareporahou.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/waitara-lands-taken-must-be-returned/ )
The Waitangi Tribunal clearly evidenced the illegal actions of the colonial government and successive acts of contemporary colonial governments (https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/WT/wt_DOC_68453721/Taranaki%201996.compressed.pdf)
The Bill provides a very limited and unsatisfactorily introduction to these issues before moving on to referring to the Pekapeka block as ‘Waitara Endowment Lands’ and advocating for processes of the freeholding of those lands.
Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū and Te Ātiawa iwi have strongly opposed this Bill through the Māori Select Committee process and called for the return of the Pekapeka block. Many other organisations stood with the hapū and iwi throughout this process and advocated for the return of the lands. (http://www.taranaki.gen.nz/pekapeka)
The most recent release regarding the Pekapeka block and other stolen Waitara lands provides an overview of information regarding the NPDC and the “millions of dollars it has earned from land stolen from Waitara hapu in the 1860s”. (http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201842582/council’s-earnings-from-waitara-land-bone-of-contention )
An Official Information Act application by Carl Chenery on behalf of Tāmaki Treaty Workers provides an analysis of the already huge benefits to the respective councils over the past 150 years. According to the material gained the group found that “the council had pocketed between $95m and $140m, excluding interest and any money from land sales”. (Tāmaki Treaty Workers Supplementary Submission with estimates of lease payments:
Within the submission process it is clear that the hapū, iwi and many other social service organisations see the return of the Pekapeka block as essential to the healing of the historical trauma experienced within Waitara. The continued economic gain by both the NP District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council over the past 150 years has been raised by hapū and iwi for many years.
The free-holding and sale of lands on the Pekapeka block and other stolen Waitara lands constitutes more Treaty breaches and calls into question yet again the ways in which successive governments have operated in relationship to their obligations in regards to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Māori lawyer Moana Jackson has consistently stated that “Treaties are not made to be settled, treaties are made to be honoured”. That is a critical point at the centre of this issue, that is the lack of honour on the part of the Crown and its agencies, the NP District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council. Whilst hapū and iwi continue to act in respectful, peaceful, dignified ways in regards to land issues in Waitara, the colonial institutions continue their deceitful, dishonest and dishonourable practices.
As the hapū and iwi await the report of the Māori select committee there are many questions that remain unanswered in regards to the Pekapeka block, including how the respective councils have managed to secretly sell sections of land and not provide any documentation or explanation to our communities. There is no doubt in our minds that the Crown, the NP District Council and the Taranaki Regional council have benefited many times from the theft of the lands in Waitara, including the Pekapeka block. There is also no doubt that the whānau, hapū and iwi of Waitara have never been prioritised in regards to resourcing and support from the $140million that has already been taken as profits from those lands.
This can not continue. The process of raupatu, the beating of our people hundreds of time over can not be allowed to continue in this generation or upon generations of our whānau, hapū and iwi of Waitara. As the Waitangi tribunal clearly stated ‘If war is the absence of peace, the war has never ended in Taranaki.’