Violence, Abuse and The Theft of Waitara Lands

One of the ways that abusers maintain their power and ability to continue their abusive behaviour is through silencing their victims. Ensuring the secret is kept, that the silence is maintained allows abusers to hold their power and control over those that they are victimising. Silence is a mechanism of control. It stops others from challenging or intervening in the oppressive relations that abusers perpetuate on those around them. Silence is a means by which to deny the existence of abuse. It is a veil that shrouds the abuse in order to render it invisible. In doing so it ensures that those abused are also rendered invisible and marginalised. Abusers are at their most powerful when those around them either do not know, chose not to know, or for many reasons they turn a blind eye to what is happening within their midst.

When I look at the Treaty settlement process imposed through the Fiscal Envelope process of the mid 1990’s I see silence and abuse at its core. The Crown in its so-called negotiation process is the most powerful abuser in Aotearoa. Through it’s representative negotiating agency, the Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS), the Crown (which includes successive right wing and left wing governments) continues to abuse whānau, hapū and iwi. Silence as power, and silence as abuse, is reproduced through demands by OTS for ‘confidentiality’. In the context of the Treaty Settlement process the imposed process of confidentiality has enabled the Crown to abuse and re-abuse our people for over 25 years of Treaty settlements. The notion itself of settlement is a breach of the fundamental premise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Moana Jackson reminds us constantly that “treaties are not made to be settled. Treaties are made to be honoured”. Since the instigation of the Fiscal Envelope process we have seen consistent moves by the Crown to invalidate the treaty. It is evident throughout government policies of removing fundamental treaty rights from legislation; placing deadlines on the right of our people to lodge treaty claims; whitestreaming of Māori specialist or dedicated roles across sectors to name but a few examples. The abusive power of the Crown may have changed form over 200 years, however it remains exactly that – State abuse. Graham Smith has talked of this as the new formation of colonisation. That is, it is colonisation under a different guise, in a different shape, but nonetheless Colonisation it remains. The silence that is confidentiality in the Treaty settlement process is reflective of the silencing imposed by an abuser that seeks to maintain their power and control. That is the nature of the current Crown – Māori relationship, it is a deeply embedded abusive and oppressive one.

This takes me to a key process that impacts directly upon the whānau, hapū and iwi of our lands, the Pekapeka Block in Waitara. The abuse relationship upon the whānau, hapū and iwi of Waitara is one that the Crown began in the 1860s. We remember, the history of the lands in Waitara, the theft and confiscation as a result of the Crown creating legislation to empower itself to steal the lands of Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū of Te Ātiawa iwi. The Crown later passed the lands to its colonial cousins that are now known as the New Plymouth District Council and Taranaki Regional Council. This makes it an intergenerational abuse as it continues to abuse the descendants of those that the Crown abused, imprisoned and murdered in the 19th century. This abuse was described by Awhina Cameron as follows, in relation to Taranaki, and in particular events surrounding the Waitara lands –

“When I sat down to write my korero today, I was struck by the glaringly obvious parallels between what I do, the work we do on an organisation level and what is currently going-on on a community and collective level between hapu, iwi and the various governing bodies of this land…
Violence is not ok, the further marginalisation of victims is not ok, interpersonal intentional harm is not ok, be it on a physical, psychological, emotional, financial or spiritual level, it is not ok. The dehumanising of the victim, the minimising of the harm, the rationalising of the violence is not ok. Nor is it ok for someone to use for their benefit the rewards of the harm of other, intentionally benefiting from that trauma, because this further victimises the victim and reinforces the perpetrators actions…
What I would say to you all here today, is that what is true on an individual level should also be true on a group and collective level. I would like to explore how our approach to intentional group collective harm has up to this day, minimised, dehumanised, marginalised and in no way resembles a meaningful restorative or healing approach to harm and the impacts and effects of that harm.”

There has been much debate about what “to do” with the Pekapeka Block that the Crown and Councils refer to within the generalised term ‘Waitara Endowed Lands’. The constant denial of the abusive parties to refer to specific lands as ‘Pekapeka’ is another process of marginalising the history and the oppressive actions that lead to Waitara being then passed on by the Crown to the two Council bodies, The New Plymouth District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council. “Endowed lands” creates a sense that the land was “gifted” “bestowed” or “donated” when in fact the lands were stolen and illegally confiscated. There was no act of endowment or gifting, there were acts of abuse and theft. This is not debatable, this is an historical fact. We now see, those acts of violence against the hapū and iwi being repeated today in 2017 with the current assertion of the NP District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council that they now have some right to sell “their gift”. That is very clearly an act of intergenerational violence and abuse.

Let me return, for a moment, to the notion of abusers, secrets and silence. For many generations these councils have forced whānau, hapū and iwi of Waitara to not only live watching these abusive institutions control the lands, they have also forced us to pay leases to live on the Pekapeka block. Throughout those years the councils have served their own interests in regards to the use of lease funds and in many instances have sold (and made freehold) sections of the Pekapeka block, and other confiscated lands in Waitara, with no indication to the hapū and iwi that they were doing so. It was their secret.

Silence through confidentiality continues to be imposed by the Crown agency, The Office of Treaty Settlements. OTS has a reputation of being the Crowns bully and there is no doubt that is the case in regards to Waitara. One of the most detrimental processes related to the Pekapeka block and other hapū lands in Waitara is silence being presented as confidentiality. Abuse relies on the secret and silence. We have seen this for over 200 years in Aotearoa. If we are to resolve the historical trauma that has impacted upon whānau, hapū and iwi within Waitara then we must ensure that all discussions are open and that the Crown and Councils do not impose their processes of secrecy to deny meaningful engagement.

None of the abusers in this scenario want to relinquish their power. The Crown, NP District council and the Taranaki Regional council want to place some part of the responsibility of this issue at the feet of the Iwi and the existing Te Atiawa treaty settlement. It is also clear that the Taranaki Regional Council have sat in arrogance throughout this process and have positioned themselves actively against the return of any lands.

So this is a message to the Crown, NP District council and the Taranaki Regional council – NO WE DO NOT ACCEPT THAT. We do not accept that the Iwi should ever have to buy back lands that were stolen from our ancestors.
You stole the lands, you took Waitara through illegal acts of violence and confiscation, you have all benefited millions of times over through financial and economic advantage from the theft of those lands. You do not deserve one cent more, NOT one cent more should be extracted from the lands of Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū.

The colonial government commenced the colonial land wars in Waitara. Successive governments and councils have never done right by the whānau, hapū and iwi of Waitara. They have constantly abused, oppressed and bullied those of Waitara. It is time for this government to call the Office of Treaty Settlements to heel and to take the time that is needed for the hapū and iwi of Waitara to take the time needed to ensure that these historical atrocities are dealt with in ways that meet the aspirations of their people. This can not be rushed to meet an election date, to do so would merely create yet another issue that the next generation will be left to deal with. Only then will there be meaningful negotiations to ensure the return of Waitara lands to their rightful guardians. It is time to make this right.

Excerpts from Submissions to the Māori Select Committee

Manukorihi Hapu o Waitara Submission
We oppose the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill in its entirety and would like all the Lands be returned to the Hapu o Whaitara at no cost and with no strings attached. We request that this Bill not be reported back to the House. Our main concern in relation to the Bill: The land was stolen: Hoki mai Te Whenua, therefore return it. At a recent hui, a question was asked, what do you do when you steal something? A child replied, “You give it back”. Do the right thing: Give the land back.

Patsy Bodger, Manukorihi Hapu oral submission
“The position of the Manukorihi hapu regarding the return of the Pekapeka block has always been clear as it was to our tupuna. We will never be distracted from that point of view. We are not interested in money. We see beyond the leases. The whenua is the most important thing. During the Treaty negotiation process we were asked, time and time again, what we wanted from the settlement. And we always responded by saying “Return the land. Hoki mai te whenua.”

Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Oral Submission
It is not helpful to forget our past. Whaitara has been earmarked by colonial imperialist history to be marginalised and to be fragmented, lost and confused culturally, socially and economically because our Tūpuna initiated a passive resistance movement – meaning resistance to government, law etc without violence by fasting, by demonstrating, and by refusing to cooperate. The passive resistance movement of Taranaki originated from Whaitara when Te Rangitake sent the women out to pull up the survey pegs. Thus began Te Pahua Tuatahi – Te Pahua o Whaitara – the plunder of Whaitara.

Dr Leonie Pihama Submission
The Bill will remove any hope or realisation of the aspirations of our tupuna that is encapsulated in the saying ‘I riro whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai’. Many generations of those of us that have lived on the Pekapeka Block have waited patiently for the return of those lands to our people. We have watched the struggle and pain of those who have had to lease lands back from those that represent the colonial forces that confiscated the lands of our ancestors. It is critical that this Bill be halted and that the Crown, the Council and hapū and iwi representatives resume discussions in regards to the return of these lands to mana whenua.

Community Taranaki Submission
The Waitara Lands Bill before you is nowhere near an instrument of doing the right thing. It is simply the perverse result of having the same conversation again, again and again. This is the conversation that speaks of the money that is still to be made at this final leg of a very old landgrab. It speaks of deal-making and how to weigh up the various players and competing interests, and how to extract compromise from the weakest participants. And it speaks of how to continue to avoid facing our real history, and the grief and trauma that still exists as a result of that history. Our advice to this Select Committee is to stop and to step back. We need a new conversation about the Waitara Lands.

Professor David V. Williams Submission

Harbour boards and local government entities in Taranaki have benefitted hugely over many decades from endowed lands that were wrongly, unfairly and unlawfully confiscated from hapū in the 1860s. There is no good reason for local government entities to continue to reap rewards from the endowed land assets and there is even less reason for those entities to obtain unearned capital gains from the freeholding of leasehold lands over which they should never have had a legal interest in the first place. If the land was wrongly taken, then the most obvious starting point for a peace and reconciliation conversation in our own time should be to find a way to return the lands to those from whom they were taken.

Tamaki Treaty Workers Submission
In addition to retaining ownership of the land itself, the local council and the public have had over 140 years of lease payments for these lands used for the benefit of Waitara. Nowhere in the Bill is this level of generosity recognised, acknowledged or compensated for. The fact that a calculation of the amount has not been undertaken and full provenance not completed, shows that this has been taken for granted.

Tamaki Treaty Workers Oral Submission

When communicating to the public about the betterment they will receive from the funds from the sales of the stolen land, NPDC is not communicating what benefits they have already received.

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Submission
This is iconic land, where the Crown launched the New Zealand Wars, the start of a tragic period of loss and dispossession. It is crucially important that the injustices of that time are not repeated in the present day, and the opportunity should instead be taken to provide a resolution to the confiscation of land. Since the land was stolen, we believe with Manukorihi and Otaraua that it should simply be returned.

New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists Submission

Reconciliation, genuine peace and goodwill are not possible when decisions made are only based on the majority view point without dialogue with minorities, a clear understanding of their cultural perspectives, historical experiences and empathy for their suffering. We believe that the original decision made to confiscate the land, then to lease the lands and make money from them have broken the Treaty partnership and dishonoured both Pakeha and Maori in the process.

Native Affairs – Selling off Waitara

Peace For Pekapeka

Submissions to Maori Affairs Select Commiittee Against the Waitara Lands Bill

Inquiry into Abuse within State Welfare Institutions Critical: A Press Release in Support of Ngā Morehu – Survivors of State Abuse

“The issue and impact of the removal of Indigenous children is on the agenda of virtually every Indigenous nation globally” states Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute, University of Waikato. “We have an opportunity in this country to take a lead and say ‘no this will not continue’ by placing the needs of tamariki and their whānau at the forefront and to do that in a meaningful way we must start with removing the silence of what has happened to many generations that were placed into the State Welfare system”.

Dr Pihama believes that it is critical that a formal inquiry be held into the abuse of children within State institutions and it must take place before any changes are made to the Investing in Children Legislative Reform outlining legislative changes to Children Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 and related legislation.

The report ‘Some Memories Never Fade: Final Report of
 The Confidential Listening and Assistance Service’ by Judge Henwood (2015) highlights that over 60% of children that enter into the State system ‘cross over’ into the Juvenille justice system. The Henwood report states:
“As many boys as girls were sexually abused. About 57% of the men we saw had been sexually abused and 57% of the women. The damage done sometimes seems to be irreparable. Many people reported that they felt helpless and enraged that there was no one to whom they could report it. Many of the children who had been abused in State care fell into anti-social and criminal behaviour and ended up in prison or psychiatric hospitals in later life. It is estimated that about 40% of prisoners grew up in state care. Their lives were set on a dangerous and damaging path during this time. There are many people who have been living on the edge ever since their experience of State care as children.” (p.12)

The 1988 report Pūao Te Ata Tū highlighted the lack of successive governments to understand these issues,
“At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in Māori society and its relationship with whānau, hapū iwi structures.“ (Preface)

It has been advocated by the vast majority of organisations that presented in the Social Services Select Commmittee process that Māori children that are raised within whānau with connections to their cultural identity and strong support systems in place thrive, whereas those that the State place into contexts where they are institutionalised and disconnected from their whānau are more likely to have longer term traumatic impacts upon their lives.

The call for an Inquiry has been at the forefront of the current debate surrounding the legistative changes proposed and to be reported on by the Social Services Select Committee. The organisation ‘Ngā Morehu – The Survivors of State Abuse’ held a rally at Parliament on July 6th to call for justice for the many thousands of children that were placed by the State into institutions and homes where they experience psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

“The institutional racism and abuse within the State system must be formally investigated in order to ensure that this does not continue to happen to Māori children, that are forced into state institutions and processes through no fault of their own.“
states Associate Professor Leonie Pihama.

“The testimonies of the survivors of this system of State removal tell us over and over again that this system does not, and will never work, and it is time to hear those voices and to develop ways of caring for tamariki and mokopuna in ways that ensure their wellbeing”


Ngā Mōrehu – The Survivors

The Government should not keep refusing to deal with this appropriately and properly. Enormous damage has been done. And much of the damage is unresolved and ongoing. 100 thousand NZ children were removed from their homes and placed in state care facilities. Many suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse. Tomorrow (now today Sunday), we dedicate our programme to four former wards of the state. We call them Ngā Mōrehu – The Survivors. This is their story… #TheHui Sunday, 9:30am on Three.
Ngā Mōrehu – The Survivors

#Hands Off Our Tamariki : An Open Letter
Posted on October 9, 2016 by Te Wharepora Hou
An Open Letter to Whānau, Hapū, Iwi, Iwi Leaders Forum, Māori Members of Parliament, Māori National and Iwi Organisations

Video Clips by Paora Moyle

#Resistance 150 : In Solidarity with our First Nations Relations

“Canada 150 is just a year of revictimization. Like it wasn’t enough to colonize once, now we are going to shove it down your throat.” Romeo Saganash


Today on Turtle Island July 1 is a day that marks 150 years of the imposition of the colonial state known as Canada, and has been promoted as Canada150 with a range of ‘celebrations’ across the country. But Canada150 is not a celebration for First Nations, and as Māori we know that these colonial activities merely serve to further entrench the racism and imperialist views of colonisers on Indigenous lands. These events are constructed to do exactly that. To reinforce the hegemonic view that colonial states are on our lands legitimately, when they are not. The colonisation of Canada reflects the colonisation of other Indigenous nations including Aotearoa.

In the article “Untethering colonial rule for Canada’s 150th birthday”
Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel writes:

“Canada’s sovereignty is based on legal fictions like the Doctrine of Discovery, Terra Nullius and the Doctrine of Conquest, which have been used to justify the forceful occupation of land that has not been subject to the conqueror’s narrow definition of ‘sovereignty.’
But today, hundreds of years after some of these documents were written, Canada remains steadfast in its insistence of sovereignty over Indigenous peoples’ lands. The preamble of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — adopted unreservedly by Canada in spring 2016 — states:
“Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust…”
Canada must today repudiate these racist doctrines instead playing a waiting game that will leave it to another generation of politicians.”


The celebration of colonial days such as Canada150 work to conceal this history, not to reveal it, and in doing so the ongoing oppression of Indigenous Peoples remains at the center of the colonial project. The obsession with having a national party to celebrate colonial oppression is well entrenched across the world. They are parties that we are invited to as Indigenous nations, only if we play the party game, which means leaving any unresolved issues of colonial oppression outside the gate. We are constantly reminded that this is a party to celebrate “how far we have come” and “to look forward to the future with hope”, based on 150 years of “progress”. We know these kind of parties, because we are about to have one thrown here as well, Cook250, where we, as Māori, will also be told that if we want to be invited then we will need to behave. That is the colonial paternalism that is Canada150 and it will be Cook250. It is an oppressive, imperialistic, misogynist, racist paternalism that remains unchanged over 150 years.

For Indigenous peoples these are parties we should not be attending, and that we must respond to when the invitations are sent, as Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel and Romeo Saganash state clearly;

“For many of us, our refusal to celebrate is not a disdain for Canadians, but rather to send a message that we as a distinct peoples, indigenous to these lands, also have a right to control our destiny through the enjoyment of our right to self-determination. From our elders who endured the terrible and horrific conditions brought on by colonial-rooted poverty, to the present generation speaking out in attempts to decolonize Canada and our communities, there are countless urgent crises signifying that we can no longer tolerate colonial and racist laws, nor the exploitation of our lands, resources and peoples.” Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel

“The real problem with Canada 150 celebrations are the stories that the state is attempting to tell itself and everyone else. Specifically, that it has legitimate authority to make laws and policies, or even imagine a future, without Indigenous partnership. Any celebration of the state, the nation with its assumed sovereignty, stories of expansion and settlement or nation-building in general, replicate settler colonial narratives and are an insult to my ancestors, to my people, to me.” Romeo Saganash

Having recently visited Vancouver I am thankful for the powerful critique and discussions that we were invited in to as Indigenous scholars. It was clearly stated that reconciliation will never take place until such time as the colonial government deal directly with the fundamental issues of the denial of First Nations sovereignty and that the lands stolen are return to enable nations to return to full self-determination. In Aotearoa we are also thankful to the powerhouse women who founded the Idle No More movement, in particular our Indigenous sister Sylvia McAdam who spent time and shared so generously with our people here in Aotearoa. (

The dominant articulation of ‘reconciliation’ within Canada is linked directly to the Canada150 party and functions to marginalise any meaningful engagement related to sovereignty and self-determination for Indigenous nations. The construct of reconciliation will always be problematic for Indigenous nations when defined, controlled and determined by the colonial state. Even if the underpinning of the concept of reconciliation is to restore relationships, to bring together groups in disagreement to a place of agreement., that can not, and never will, be accomplished in a context where the group in power, the oppressor, determines what reconciliation is, and controls the process. If reconciliation was truly a process of restoration within a colonial context then it would be defined, determined and controlled by Indigenous peoples, and the colonial state would be held accountable and would return what was stolen. Clearly in the context of Canada150 that is not the case and was never the intention.

In an article that reflects on the powerful work of Sylvia McAdam in reoccupying the land, Steve Newcomb writes on the terms reconciliation and colonization in the context of Canada150.

“Reconciliation is a false-word that makes it appear as if something positive is being done without once addressing the persistent and ongoing process that is causing the problems experienced by Original Nations of Great Turtle Island in the place now commonly called “Canada.” The question of causation leads us to the issue of the language system which has created and continues to create such horrifying and traumatic experiences for our Original Nations.
More than 60 percent of English is derived from the Roman Empire’s language of Latin. War was the raisón d’etre of the Roman Empire to expand the geographical reach of its domination, and its Latin language was designed for that purpose. The British Empire and its Crown system has followed in that very same tradition, and the history of the British Empire’s “possessions” and “provinces” on Great Turtle Island follows in that grand tradition of imperialism.
This is made clear by the fact that until the late 1960’s it was a place officially known as “The Dominion of Canada.” Drop the ‘n’ on the end and you get dominio, which indicates a place that has been “subjected” (dominated) by some power such as an empire. The word dominio is part of a large family of Latin words for domination. Together those words and the ideas that go with them constitute an overall idea-system of domination. Take for example the word domo: “to subjugate,” “to subdue,” “to force into subservience,” “to tame,” “to domesticate,” “to cultivate,” and “to till.” The Latin word for “cultivate” is colere, which also means “to colonize” and “design.”
The root of the word “colonize” is “colon” which is “a digestive tract.” Colo means “to filter out impurities in the process of mining.” Colonization is a digestive process. The invader body politic seizes, consumes, and digests. Ironically, Christopher Columbus’s Latin name was Cristobal Colón (Christ Carrier Colonizer). To colonize involves “the digestive tract of the invader body politic,” such as the British Empire, well-symbolized as a lion with the globe (Mother Earth) under its paw.”

The amazing Arthur Manuel wrote of reconciliation as a flawed notion in January 2017:
“The first step is to repudiate the concepts behind the Colonial Doctrines of Discovery and recognize that every Indigenous nation in Canada has underlying title to their entire territory. Plus recognize we have exclusive rights to a land base starting from 3-to-5 million acres so we can protect our language, culture, laws and economy…
I believe that under the existing colonial system in Canada, Indigenous Peoples are not Canadian because of the systemic impoverishment we are forced live in because we are alienated from our traditional territories. If we accept colonization as a foundation of our relationship to Canada we are endorsing our own impoverishment. You cannot have reconciliation under the colonial 0.2 per cent Indian Reserve System. It is impossible. Nothing can justify that kind of human degradation. The land issue must be addressed before reconciliation can begin.”


Our connection to our lands, is our connection to ourselves and to each other. Until such time as our lands and our fundamental rights to be Indigenous are fully restored there can never be reconciliation. The return of stolen lands is central to Indigenous self-determination, sovereignty, mana motuhake, tino rangatiratanga.

“Development has been at the expense of the way of life of Indigenous peoples whose languages cultures, stories and traditional forms of governance are land based designed to strengthen our relationship with the land. Land dispossession remains a key issue as it disrupts the relationship we have with Mother Earth and all our relations. The pillars of our identity— our languages, customs, health, ceremonies, and traditional forms of governance — are all inter-related and interdependent upon the health of our environment. Our languages teach us how we approach our relations like the four-legged, the fish, the waters, our medicines, and our celestial relations in the sky. “
Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel

There is no celebration for Canada when First Nations remain the most impoverished people on their own lands, where colonial governments continue to deny the impact of historical and intergenerational trauma imposed by their genocidal and ethnocidal acts upon Indigenous nations, when First Nations peoples hold only 0.2% of traditional homelands, where successive governments continue to devastate the environment with clear cutting forests and laying pipelines, where racism in the police and associated agencies culminates in the murder of Indigenous Peoples, where thousands of Indigenous women are missing and murdered and they and their families are denied justice, where First Nations children continue to be forcibly removed by the state, where the survivors of the Residential schooling system, and their descendants, continue to be faced with the impact of that oppressive and genocidal system.

As an Indigenous woman of Aotearoa who stands with many of our people in our struggle for the return of our lands and to stand as self-determining in our own territories, this is a message of solidarity with our Indigenous relations in the call for the return of your lands and your rights as sovereign nations. We are here. We are watching. We continue to bear witness. We stand in solidarity with you, our relations.
Me whawhai tonu mātou, ake ake ake.



This year Canada is commemorating it’s 150th anniversary. But for indigenous people there’s nothing to celebrate. In honour of Art Manuel and the integrity with which he always began with the land and honoured the grassroots people, the #Unsettling150 crew are proud to launch this video filled with Art’s words, read by his daughter Kanahus Manuel, to launch the final lead-up to the national day of action, education, and reflection.