Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More bad faith

Hot on the heels of the government's bad faith at Whenuakite comes another case, this time in Taranaki. Several years ago, the government closed down primary schools at Te Kiri and Pihama. The schools are situated on land stolen from Taranaki Maori in 1863, and government policy is that such surplus properties which are likely to form a valuable part of a future Treaty claim be purchased and landbanked by the Office of Treaty Settlements. However, despite numerous representations, OTS has refused to do this. and the properties are now for sale to the highest bidder. As a result, both schools have now been occupied by the descendents of their former owners.

This will no doubt result in the usual cries for Maori to follow due process and work through the law to regain their property. But as Tariana Turia points out, the government has ignored due process in this case. They can hardly complain when people respond in kind.

More generally, this shows a worrying pattern of bad faith by the crown in negotiating Treaty settlements. This is not only wrong, it is also deeply stupid. If we want these settlements to be "full and final" - if we want them to last - it is vital that they be negotiated with the utmost good faith. Otherwise, we are simply creating further grievances, and perpetuating the problem rather than solving it.