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Gareth Morgan wrong on treaty - Mike Butler

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Mike Butler

Self-appointed guru Gareth Morgan bought into human-induced global warming in an earlier book and his current work on the Treaty of Waitangi shows him as a devotee of the make-it-up-as-you-go-along biculturalism that is the defining characteristic of New Zealand’s race gravy train.

His conclusion that the treaty process is a success because the "treaty is now taken to mean whatever Maori leaders and the Crown, as the public’s representatives, agree it means", published in a NZ Herald op-ed piece today, ignores the elephant in the room by way of a racial faultline that came into existence with the creation of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975.

Along this faultine has widened a gap of haves and have-nots, both among citizens with some Maori ancestry and between those of Maori ancestry and those without, with the progress of successive "full and final settlements".

The total settlement bill to March last year was $2.3-billion. The newly rich tribal corporations pay little or no tax, and two entities, Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu, are entitled to repeated top-ups as a percent of the increasing grand total.

Morgan’s assertion that making it up as they (Crown and claimants) go along was necessary because "the original documents aren’t very useful" shows that he has not looked closely at the texts of either Te Tiriti or the official English and has ruled out the Busby February 4 draft, also known as the Littlewood treaty.

Morgan has either forgotten or has not thought about the fact that the treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori, which means the meaning and intent is clear in the source document, the original English..

That source document is quite likely the Busby February 4 draft that has only four words that differ from Te Tiriti, one of which is the date. But any mention of that document brings a torrent of spat tacks from grievers on the gravy train.

Because Morgan is woefully ignorant of the contents of the treaty he can make an idiotic statement like "how do we help Maoridom realise the all-important aspirations encompassed in rangatiratanga (used in Article 2, te reo version) in modern day Aotearoa New Zealand?"

If he had looked at the English source draft to see what the word "rangatiratanga" translated in Article 2, he would have seen that it translated the English word "possession", as in "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."

Morgan is also wrong to buy into land-loss rhetoric when he writes "justice and reparations have been a long time coming and, as generous as they might look to non-Maori, they’re just cents in the dollar for what Maori lost in terms of property".

No mention by Morgan of the fact that land-owner Maori sold New Zealand to the wicked white colonizer in hundreds of transactions painstakingly recorded in Turton’s deeds posted for all to see on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre of the Victoria University of Wellington’s website.

New Zealand has 26.8-million hectares of land. A total 1.2-million hectares were confiscated during the 1860s wars (much of which was returned at the time). There are approximately 1.47 million hectares of Maori land (including customary land). Therefore, Maori land owners sold 24.13-million hectares.

The staggeringly foolish policy by the fourth Labour government to look into grievances back to 1840 invited claimants to get cash-for-grievance top-ups on 19th century sale and purchase agreements.

I challenge Morgan to present a coherent argument to support his contention that "because the chiefs’ signatures were on the te reo version, it’s certainly possible they didn’t cede sovereignty then".

If he had read the treaty he would know that article 1 clearly states "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".

Anyone who refers to the "unique bicultural character of Aotearoa New Zealand" in a sentence, as Morgan does, has outed him or herself as a card-carrying treatyist who is looking for a seat on the gravy train.

Even though Morgan criticises the conduct of the Waitangi Tribunal I don't hold much hope for his proposal for a different course.

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