Ihumatao protesters’ claims falter on scrutiny

Scrutiny attracted by Ihumatao protesters has turned up information that undermines claims of long association with the land, and shows why land there was confiscated.

  • Protest leader Pania Newton said her Te Kawerau a Maki iwi had lived at Ihumatao for hundreds of years, yet they weren’t regarded as the landowners there in 1848 when another tribe, Ngati Whatua, sold land there to settlers.
  • Newton says the land there was stolen but she does not say that the land was confiscated because the people there sided with tribes fighting against the Crown.

A letter from a district commissioner at the time confirmed that Ngati Whatua in 1848 sold land at Ihumatao to settlers named Geddes and Imlay. [1] Te Kawerau a Maki’s settlement deed shows numerous instances in which they say they were ignored in land transactions in Auckland.  

The punishment aspect of confiscation has been downplayed since 1985, in the most recent round of compensation payments, giving rise to the view that Maori land was taken from innocents.

This view ignores the complexities of 10 years of sporadic armed conflict in New Zealand from 1860 that spread from Taranaki and involved fighters from Waikato.

In this conflict, some Maori fought for the Government and some against. As a result, Maori were required to take an oath of allegiance to show which side they were on.

When the Government moved against Waikato fighters in 1863, starting from Auckland, Ihumatao Maori refused to take the oath and left for the Waikato, according to a letter from H. Halse to the Government dated July 11, 1863.[2]

This refusal shows that people living in Ihumatao chose loyalty to Waikato relatives who fought against the Government over loyalty to the Government.

After Waikato fighting finished, 1100 acres or 445 hectares in Ihumatao were confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. This was a consequence of opposing the Government either by fighting against it, or by supporting or conspiring with rebels.

Native Compensation Courts were set up under the Act to deal with complaints and several applicants from Ihumatao were heard in 1866.

Puketapapa, the site of Newton’s protest, was regarded as lost forever to Te Ahiwaru on account of “the whole tribe” rebelling. Other owners at Ihumatao had 260 acres (105ha) returned, leaving 840 acres (340ha) that remained confiscated.[3]

Gavin Wallace of county Argyll, Scotland, moved on to land there in 1867, either by grant, lease, or purchase. If it was by grant, as Newton says, it could be under Section 16 of the Act in return for military service.

In 1998, the Wallace family sold the Stonefields part of their farm to the Manukau City Council, the Auckland Regional Authority, and the Department of Conservation, for well below market value.[4] That, plus land sold by three other farmers, became the 100ha Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.

In June 2015, Fletcher Residential bought the remainder of the Wallace farm and proposed to build 480 homes.

Te Kawerau a Maki iwi had Treaty settlement in 2015 that included financial redress of $6.5 million and more.[5] That settlement deed does not mention confiscated land, although the Te Kawerau a Maki website says that land was confiscated.

Evidence of land confiscation at Ihumatao conflicts with a map on the “Confiscation” page of the Government’s Te Ara Encyclopaedia at https://teara.govt.nz/en/zoomify/25776/land-confiscation.  This map excludes Ihumatao when it purports to show all confiscation areas in the North Island.

We launched a petition which asks the police to uphold the rights of the landowner by evicting the protesters, and for the Government to regard Treaty settlements involving that area as full and final, to allow both Te Kawerau a Maki and Fletchers to proceed with their lawful business.

We have picked up 2247 signatures. We still need your support. Please sign the petition at http://chng.it/xPN6P55k

Celestial navigation story to be told

Ian Taylor, a Dunedin-based animation researcher, intends to add to the Tuia – Encounters 250 in October this year by telling the story of the Polynesian celestial navigators.

The commemoration will mark Captain Cook’s arrival in New Zealand and the first meeting of Maori and European people, 250 years ago.

A flotilla of six ships, including a replica of Cook’s ship, Endeavour, a waka hourua, and a Tahitian fa’afaite, will retrace the voyage Cook made around New Zealand. 

A futile petition was mounted calling on the visit to be stopped on the grounds that the idea was racist, but the Government has confirmed that the commemoration will proceed.

You may sign our counter petition to welcome the Endeavour replica to New Zealand, which has gathered 3623 signatures, by going to http://chng.it/jKMjXXMwGd.

See https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/the-man-hijacking-the-cook-commemorations-to-tell-the-story-of-polynesian-exploration/ar-AAFCMNM?li=BBSVtLJ&ocid=mailsignout

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[1] John Grant’s description of Oruarangi, http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-TurEpit-t1-g1-t3-g1-t9-g1-t22-body1-d2.html

[2] Letter, H. Halse. https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivesnz/48377496731/  

[3] Confiscated lands and other grievances, 1928. P16. https://atojs.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/atojs?a=d&d=AJHR1928-I.2.2.6.13&e=-------10--1------0--

[4] https://www.noted.co.nz/planet/photo-essay-ihumatao-and-the-otuataua-stonefields-historic-reserve/

[5] https://www.govt.nz/treaty-settlement-documents/te-kawerau-a-maki/


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