Will tikanga law that a High Court justice has just included in a coastal area ruling include inter-tribal warfare, cannibalism, slavery, and other primitive customs, or will it just be a modern version, historian Dr John Robinson asked this week.
Dr Robinson, who wrote Dividing the nation: the return to tikanga, was asked to comment on Justice Churchman’s May 7 judgement which awarded customary marine title to a strip of Bay of Plenty coast to a private group on the basis of a simple, unequivocal assertion of an old Maori system of law, Dr Robinson wrote.
To be clear, tikanga is the name for Maori customs and traditional values. A custom is a traditional and widely accepted way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society.
The law is the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties.
Those who want tikanga to become part of New Zealand’s law confuse the issue from the outset by asserting that pre-1840 tikanga was law.
Dr Robinson warned that the meaning of tikanga today is deliberately confused, with no clarity as to whether traditional Maori ways are implied or whether it as a version transformed around 1840 by the widespread shift to Christianity, and further cultural development since, he wrote.
The resulting confusion allows Maori authorities to claim that they alone can interpret and explain New Zealand common law, and we are required to sit silently on the side-line and accept whatever they pronounce, he wrote.
The Churchman judgement provides a list of core values at the centre of tikanga, as suggested by Supreme Court Justice Joe Williams, namely:
- Whanaungatangam,or the source of the rights and obligations of kinship;
- Mana, or the source of rights and obligations of leadership;
- Tapu, as both a control on behaviour and evidence of the indivisibility of divine and profane;
- Utu, or the obligation to give and the right (and sometimes obligation) to receive constant reciprocity; and
- Kaitiakitanga, or the obligation to care for one’s own.
The coupled whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga require priority to members of an extended family. But the granting of favours to friends is corruption. Using this to guide behaviour in local and central government, and in the civil service, invites nepotism.
Social control through tapu, plus the insistence on the “indivisibility of divine and profane”, contradicts a basic assumption of a secular society such as New Zealand claims to be, where beliefs in spirituality and religion play no part in government and law.
The Churchman judgement uncritically said that “customary rights in land or sea were sourced in a number of ways, the most common of which are ... take raupatu (victory and battle).”
Conflict resolution through conquest was most common in pre-Treaty Maori society as war parties raided other tribes, to kill and often eat foes, to take prisoners as slaves, to drive peoples from their lands and to finally reduce the country to a state of complete disruption and misery (in the 1820s and 1830s).
That feature of tikanga must be firmly rejected before we can start to consider bringing tikanga into social mores, Dr Robinson wrote.
The values of traditional Maori society led to widespread killing and a complete collapse before the British were called upon to provide law. The values of the tikanga of today are totally unclear and conflict with those of civilised society. Only a fool would accept these prescriptions, Dr Robinson wrote.
Read Dr Robinson’s article at https://www.hobsonspledge.nz/tikanga_in_law_what_does_it_mean
Crown won’t appeal coastal ruling
The Government won’t appeal against the High Court judgement three weeks ago that granted a number of Bay of Plenty Maori groups customary marine title to several coastal areas, despite the flurry of emails that overloaded the inboxes of Attorney General David Parker asking him to stick up for all New Zealanders by appealing the decision.
The appeal has been left to self-funded private groups. The Attorney-General has applied to appear as an intervenor to assist the court, as he did at the first hearing.
If this Churchman judgement is allowed to stand, it is likely that hundreds of claims for customary marine title – involving most if not all of the coastline – will succeed.
The Attorney General has a statutory responsibility to act in the public interest.
Meanwhile, our petition which asks Parliament to amend the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 to restore public ownership of the coastal area and repeal customary marine title, while affirming customary rights, has picked up more than 34,000 signatures.
We still need your support. The petition may be signed at https://www.change.org/beaches4all
Crown appeal lack a step for He Puapua?
The Attorney General’s refusal to appeal the Bay of Plenty coastal judgement mentioned above looks like a further step forward in the progress of the He Puapua plan to set up two governments under a tribal monitoring committee accountable to the United Nations. The other steps are:
- The abolition of the right of local communities to hold binding referenda on Maori wards.
- Forcing Maori language and culture onto government departments and local authorities, while the state-funded media lace news with separatist propaganda.
- Replacing English names of places, streets, towns, buildings, and government agencies with Maori names. Even the nation’s name “New Zealand” is being changed by stealth.
- Setting up a separate Maori Health Authority with veto rights over the entire health system.
- Transferring ownership of the conservation estate to private tribal entities, as recommended by the Options Development Group.
- Imposing 50-50 council-tribal control over water through the Three Waters Reform.
- Imposing a revised history curriculum that looks more like Maori studies, which intends to indoctrinate our children about the evils of colonisation.
Where most countries, more likely all countries except New Zealand, would tell the United Nations to go back to New York and mind their own business, this Government is ceding to unprecedented level of influence in an effort to appear compliant.
Our petition against the segregated governments plan has picked up more than 7500 signatures. If you have not done so already, click here to sign it Reject co-governance
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