Tuesday, July 11, 2006



Ngai Tahu's generosity

In 1991, the New Zealand government returned Bastion Point to its Ngati Whatua owners. And the first thing they did was give a substantial portion of it back to the people of Auckland to be used as a park. Now, Ngai Tahu is doing the same. Their 1997 settlement included three high country sheep stations around Lake Wakatipu, straddling the Greenstone and Caples tracks. Almost 90% of this area is now being leased or outright gifted back to the government, to ensure that the people of New Zealand have public access in perpetuity to this astounding scenic area.

It's a stunning act of generosity, especially in light of all that has happened. We fucked these people over for a hundred and fifty years, a fact acknowledged in the crown's apology to the iwi, and yet they are still willing to make this sort of gesture towards reconciliation and harmony.

I guess the very least I can say is "thankyou"...

19 comments:

Who's this "we", white man? At your next Pakeha Awash With Guilt meeting, please consider the idea of separating out the concepts of 'Pakeha' and 'the Crown'. That way you need only make mistakes like saying "we fucked them over for a hundred and fifty years" once. Not least of which because "we" didn't. The Crown did. And that's a difference which is way, way more than semantic.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/11/2006 02:58:00 PM

Yeah Mike, as Treaty partner, the Crown did f them over. Yet the Crown is not the executive branch of a settler government or anything, and in no way is it representative of any subsequent settlers or anything, and of course they never respond to the wishes of the pakeha majority or anything. It's not your responsibility Mike, you're not a Treaty partner, you're the victim here, at your next Angry at Pakeha who Cherish Diversity Meeting, be sure to score a hug.

(damn these bleedin' hearts, what's next, blaming Nazis for the holocaust?)

'We' the immigrants post Treaty, are just that, tangata tiriti, and it's a spurious claim that attempts to avoid reponsibility from actions taken in our names.

Posted by james cairney : 7/11/2006 04:11:00 PM

I seem to recall that the Crown also returned Mt. Cook/Aoraki to Ngai Tahu, which was also kindly gifted back? Correct me if I am wrong.

At any rate, it's a very generous thing to do, to gift your property for the benefit of others. Their mana takes yet another boost in my books. Thanks for the generous gift guys! Hopefully I'll take the time to appreciate it in the next few years if there are any good tramping tracks through (or put through)...

Posted by Ashley Clarkson : 7/11/2006 07:36:00 PM

Cheers to Ngai Tahu for giving the government a park - since I'll probably never use it, it isn't really being given to me. But as long as they were not planning on doing anything with it I guess from a utilitarian point of view god on them on behalf of whatever random tourist it is who will use that park one day. I hope he gets more enjoyment out if it than they were going to otherwise they are just being dumb.

james,

> and in no way is it representative of any subsequent settlers or anything

there are three ways of looking at it
the one I prefer is "setters" is not a group that can carry blame. Any more than "tall people" or "orange haired people" as evil as those two groups may be.

The other assumes any group can carry blame - you could thus say women don’t owe Maori anything because women didn't do the abusing, or very short people and massively overweight people don’t bear any responsibility while athletic men with low IQ (or very high IQ) are collectively guilty of most crimes.

The third seems to be the way it is often viewed - blame is genetic. Ie only genetic groupings can carry blame - for example whites or jews. So if your ancestor is a "settler" then you owe a debt to those whose ancestors are "settled" and if your ancestors killed people you owe a blood debt to their ancestors.

> And of course they never respond to the wishes of the pakeha majority or anything.

I appreciate your dislike of democracy. Let’s get together and stomp it out. The majority should bend to the will of the elite!

Posted by Genius : 7/11/2006 08:37:00 PM

Looks like the Greenstone/Caples track runs through the land, which is apparently quite nice.

If the Crown took the land, and the Crown still owns it, then the Crown should give it back, no matter whose ancestors were personally involved. Sure, there were voters and taxpayers involved at both ends, but in that case it's like the present shareholders of a company wearing the cost of a lawsuit, no matter who the shareholders were at the time of the action that caused the lawsuit.

Posted by Trouble : 7/11/2006 09:49:00 PM

damn. sins of the father. I should take reified, sanctified, collective responsibility for the actions people took over a hundred years before I was born. Even if I disgaree with these actions, it's my fault; I inherited it. Like how badly I treated the watersiders. Like how I resolutely opposed women's sufferage right up until it was too late. yeah.

Man, I was so mean to those poor Celts too. mea culpa. I'm just saying, Pakeha in new Zealand need to pull their heads in, I agree. But, making us wear the responsibility of the various administration sof William Fox is a nonsense.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/11/2006 09:55:00 PM

We, pakeha, benefitted from the colonisation of New Zealand. We continue to benefit from it. And now we benefit from a very generous gift of the land. Thanks very much!!

Posted by strong light : 7/11/2006 11:20:00 PM

"We", white man, are those who didn't get screwed out of the ownership of this nation's wealth. Duh.


Anyhoo, I've walked the Greenstone-Caples loop a couple times while in Maori ownership, the naturally grassy floor of the valleys running a few cattle in the summer. It is indeed a beautiful place, as are all the tracks in that area. I hope DOC looks after it half as well as Ngai Tahu did.

Posted by tussock : 7/11/2006 11:24:00 PM

It's an outstanding gesture really, no doubt about it. As someone who has spent a lot of time in the area, I've always found it odd that it wasn't included into Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, which border the area.

The lower Greenstone, Caples, and Routeburn Valleys have been farmed for over a century, and this may explain their initial exclusion from the park. It will be interesting to see if DOC renew the pastoral farming rights over this land in the future. I expect that they will, at least until the Mt Aspiring Park Management Plan comes up for review - which is a whole other issue that really needs me to start my own blog.

There will be some politics behind this. Some of you may be aware of the proposal that Ngai Tahu and Skyline Enterprises had to build a gondola in the area. One of the reasons for doing so was that Ngai Tahu owned the land. The gondola project was "shelved indefinitely" earlier this year, as they didn't receive permission to get the final section built (across Fiordland Park itself).

It's interesting to see that Sir Tipene is a director of the latest crazy scheme to build a tunnel under the area to cut the travel time between Queenstown and Milford in half.

That's why I think that there's more to this announcement than meets the eye.

The future of the tunnel proposal will be known in the next three weeks.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/11/2006 11:29:00 PM

Well, my ancestors didn't arrive here for another 60 or 80 years after the really nasty pillaging and destruction (although you could argue that legal pillaging continued until well after WWII), so no one could blame them for any direct wrong doing. Of course, as a honky, I feel no guilt for the deeds of a honky-dominated crown generations before my own honky birth. However, my pale skinned, shivering ancestors probably slipped quite easily into a system built upon the deeds of those honkies before them and obviously benefited from that system. Afterall, wealth, land and priviledge doesn't just evaporate upon the death of the one who stole it. I suspect that advantage gets passed on - perhaps to the children, and to their children?
I agree with Mike: pakeha guilt is soooo 80s, it's time to put it away. But absolute denial... well, it's a bit David Irving isn't it.
Just a thought: is it possible that being a private owner of a great slab of land like that in 2006 would actually be more trouble than it's worth and a tad expensive?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2006 12:18:00 AM

> honkies before them and obviously benefited from that system.

I would say it is pretty simple - if you are well off now (or at birth) you benefited - if you are poor you didn't. Because the sum of all the historical events (and a bit of genetics which is part of the former anyway) add together to put you in the sort of situation you are now.

So if you see a Maori (or whatever) who is richer than you are - obviously he benefited. If you see a random person who is poorer obviously he was disadvantaged. Makes it all pretty simple doesn’t it? No need to mention race at all!

and no need to punish ancestors of honkies who never had any power in the system or reward ancestors of maori who used it to "screw" their own people.

Posted by Genius : 7/12/2006 07:49:00 AM

You guys have a seriously odd (and, despite your protestations, anglo-centric) way of looking at this.

The vast majority of land in New Zealand was taken illegally from the rightful owners. The land your house is on, the corner dairy you shop at, the park where you walk your dog, are all land taken by hook or by crook and without proper compensation. Those owners, taken as an identifiable group rather than as "chief whoever", are still around; you can point to them and say "this was theirs". In other words, you can't write the situation off as having been done historically and there being nothing we can do about it now, as you perhaps could if the entire native population were dead (as in Tasmania).

If your car was stolen before you owned it, it's still a stolen car, even if you didn't steal it.

Your guilt about guilt is so 1990s :)

Good on Ngai Tahu.

Posted by Chris : 7/12/2006 12:33:00 PM

> The vast majority of land in New Zealand was taken illegally from the rightful owners.

I guess there are the following answers surrounding why they own that land

A) Ad absurdum - the original owners of most of the world are probably very small group of American Indians and aborigines (who's ancestors "got there first").

B) What is the moment in time we should fix? - The Maori tribe the white people stole land from probably stole the land themselves from another Maori tribe. I.e. while the theft was illegitimate so too were hundreds of previous transactions. What we seem to be being asked to do is remedy the last illegitimate transaction. The current system generally seems to honor the first legitimate one.

And as mentioned before
C) Can a race carry a credit? (Even if a state can carry a debt [and I am not sure that is appropriate either even if it does happen])

Posted by Genius : 7/12/2006 06:19:00 PM

Stolen property does not cease to be stolen property simply through the passage of time. If Mike does not wish to live in a country where people have the right to own private property and to have restitution made to them for its theft, I'm sure that Cuba or North Korea would welcome him with open arms.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2006 06:21:00 PM

"Stolen property does not cease to be stolen property simply through the passage of time."

Perhaps not, but the ability to recover it through legal means lapses after six or twelve years, under the limitation act.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 7/12/2006 06:52:00 PM

"Perhaps not, but the ability to recover it through legal means lapses after six or twelve years, under the limitation act."

If the crown stole some land and then used its own law to justify the theft how much legitimacy would that really have?

Posted by Michael : 7/12/2006 09:09:00 PM

There's the small matter of treaty too.

But my point is that trying to apportion (or avoid, white trash style) blame is pointless here. The key thing is to acknowledge the historical injustice.

Posted by Chris : 7/13/2006 10:53:00 AM

'What we seem to be being asked to do is remedy the last illegitimate transaction. The current system generally seems to honor the first legitimate one.'
What illegitimate transaction are you referring to?The British Crown regarded the maori as sovereign in NZ as of 1840 which meant that their system of land ownership, while perhaps not understood, was assumed to exist. That, and the treaty, does mean that we have to look at a static period of time, around 1840. The hundred years up to European arrival was very stable, you'd have to go back 200 years to find the previous periods of social unrest. Rather like europe actually. or any culture anywhere.
Unless of course you meant the notion that the maori were a bloodthirsty lot who killed lots of very nice preexisting perfect natives who were the real owners of new zealand and as a result we shouldnt listen to any thing the nasty maori say.....

Posted by Anonymous : 7/18/2006 03:21:00 PM

> What illegitimate transaction are you referring to? The British Crown regarded the Maori as sovereign in NZ as of 1840 which meant that their system of land ownership, while perhaps not understood, was assumed to exist.

That isn’t a transaction anymore than me noticing you control your house is a transaction (and that would elevate me to a rather high status!).

The last transaction (from that point) is whatever the person/lineage who occupied that land did in order to get it.

> The hundred years up to European arrival was very stable

So has the last 100 years give or take. Having said that I would say you assertion is highly unlikely - there might well have not been a lot of fighting (relative to er.... the imagination of some person who hates Maori or whatever) but stable territories? I doubt it in a society where people don’t own land per se.

> Rather like Europe actually. Or any culture anywhere.

My point is of course entirely generalisable. You could apply it to the Celts or whoever you want.

Posted by Genius : 7/18/2006 06:50:00 PM