Treaty twisting and Tamihere

What stood out in former Labour MP John Tamihere’s opening salvo in his bid to return the Maori Party to Parliament by winning Tamaki Makaurau Maori seat was his unashamed twisting of the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi. He said:

Article 1; that the Crown would be granted custodianship. At no time did this mean ownership. Article 2; that for the avoidance of all doubt, Maori retained total rangatiratanga, total control and ownership of their lands and all other assets. Article 3: Asserts that Maori must have equality of opportunity and equality of treatment under the custodianship principle of the treaty.

However, what the Treaty actually said is this:

Article 1. The chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes and the other chiefs who have not joined the confederation, cede to the Queen of England for ever the entire Sovereignty of their country.

Article 2. The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and the tribes and to all the people of New Zealand, the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property. But the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes and the other chiefs grant to the Queen, the exclusive rights of purchasing such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as may be agreed upon between them and the person appointed by the Queen to purchase from them.

Article 3. In return for the cession of their Sovereignty to the Queen, the people of New Zealand shall be protected by the Queen of England and the rights and privileges of British subjects will be granted to them

The Treaty text used above is the Busby February 4, 1840, document (aka the Littlewood treaty). This document, that evidence indicates is the final English draft of the Treaty but which some historians describe as a back-translation, has a single difference to Te Tiriti in that the Maori text adds the word “maori” to Article 3 to clarify that the Maori people of New Zealand would gain rights as British subjects.

Despite the widely reproduced words of the Treaty, Tamihere asserts that chiefs did not cede sovereignty and, illogically, gives that as a reason for the Maori Party not being a race-based party.

Tamihere should justify his brazen twisting of the meaning of the words of the Treaty.

Hone Heke story reinvented

Ten years ago, the fourth Kororareka Festival promised a celebration of Maori culture, with kapa haka, Rawhiti band Sweet As, a beauty contest, traditional kai, the Hone Heke Run from the township to the flagstaff on Maiki Hill, and the firing of a collection of old cannons.

The event was intended to allow “Maori and Pakeha to come together with their own views about the sacking of Kororareka”. See

Fast-forward 10 years, the narrative has hardened. Kororareka Marae Society chair Deb Rewiri last week said that the annual commemorations have been a way to bring the story out from under the haze of colonisation and assimilation that pitted so-called bad Maori against good Pakeha.

"It wasn’t about ceding sovereignty because they never did. It was about saying to the Queen 'your people will not adhere to the tikanga, they will not adhere to the laws we have in place, so you need to manage them.' That was really the agreement that underpins what they were wanting to achieve here," Ms Rewiri says.

Kororareka was the name for Russell which is located 17km (by road) from Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. In 1840, the town was the biggest whaling port in the South Pacific and became the first capital of New Zealand until the capital was shifted to Auckland in 1841.

The move undermined the local economy. Chief Hone Heke, who was the first to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, chopped down the Kororareka flag pole four times in protest. He eventually destroyed the settlement there in 1845.

This destruction of Kororareka triggered intermittent armed conflict between Government troops and Heke’s forces that was fought intermittently until mid-1846. This was the first open rebellion against white settlement and could be viewed as the first breach of the Treaty.

After all, since both the Crown and 512 chiefs signed the Treaty, the Crown was not the only party that could breach the agreement.  

This year’s commemoration took place last Wednesday.


Claims for entire coast in rocky water

A grandstanding claim by Maanu Paul on behalf of “all Maori”, and another by Rihari Dargaville for the New Zealand Maori Council, for customary marine title and protected customary rights to the entire coastal area of New Zealand have sailed into rocky water in the High Court.

The problem that the Paul-Dargaville claims encountered was that the claims for the entire coast overlapped a number of other claims for parts of the coast and those other claimants intended to move to strike out the Paul-Dargaville claims.

A claim can only succeed under Christopher Finlayson’s Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 if the claimant can prove that they have had “continuous and exclusive” use of that bit of coastline.  That’s why the High Court has been sending them back to the drawing board.  

The High Court gave the two national claimants one month from July 25, 2019, to file memoranda specifying precisely what claims they were actually advancing, on whose behalf those claims were made, and what geographic areas they relate to, as well as other matters.

Neither complied, so a further minute last September gave more time while requiring adequate particulars of the amended national claims be provided including maps identifying the boundaries of the claim.

Material submitted by both continued to have errors and omissions so a further month from January 20, 2020, was allowed to file accurate documents.

A series of minutes by Justice Churchman track this convoluted and contradictory process that never should have been contemplated.

Meanwhile, anyone who applies for a resource consent for any activity in the coastal area, such as mooring a boat, is required to consult with Maori groups who are applying for title and or rights to the area concerned.

Such are the unintended consequences of the Act.

Our petition which asks Parliament to amend the Act to restore public ownership of the coastal area, put all claims through the High Court, and repeal customary marine title, while affirming customary rights has picked up 17,309 signatures. We need your support. The petition may be signed at

What’s happening at Ihumatao?

Still no word on any outcome at Ihumatao. No news reports of any protesters there. No sign that Fletchers have been paid out. Has the land been stolen from its private owners? Our petition to evict protesters at Ihumatao, and for the Government to allow both Te Kawerau a Maki and Fletchers to proceed with their lawful business, has collected 2874 signatures. If you have not done so already, please sign our petition at

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