Iwi Handouts Need To Stop?

A $35 million top up

Opinion piece by Roger Childs

Chris Finlayson (centre), who was a former lawyer for Ngai Tahu, is shown signing yet another settlement

Most New Zealanders will be incredulous about this announcement from Treaty Negotiations Minister, Andrew Little, earlier this week. These allocations – $16.6 million and $18.7 million, are in addition to payments of $190,000,000 and $180,000,000 made in December last year to Waikato/Tainui and Ngai Tahu respectively.

All this money which has been handed over has nothing to do with grievances against the state. In the Minister’s double-speak: The Crown is committed to honouring the contractual nature of the Relativity Mechanism clauses …

Since the Waitangi Tribunal was set up in 1975, it has authorised settlements of between $3 -$4 billion dollars to iwi and it’s not finished yet. The government, on behalf of the taxpayer, has dutifully signed the cheques.

Where’s it gone?

The Tribunal has authorised payments in the billions

With all this money passed on to the part-Maori leaders of present day tribes, one wonders why tens of thousands of the descendants of the early Polynesian settlers are still living in poverty.

Certainly iwi business interests, which have special tax concessions as well, have been doing well and their assets now have a value of tens of billions of dollars.

New Zealanders may wonder why all this cash is still being handed over and will it ever a stop.

Once the large, pending Ngapuhi settlement is made, Waikato/Tainui and Ngai Tahu will get a further top up.

Does history back up the process?

The Treaty signed in 1840 is the one that matters

Many people struggle to understand why these handouts go on and on. Is it compensation for confiscations after the North Island Civil War? No, these were largely sorted out in the 1920s and 1940s.

How about breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi? If you read what the Treaty said in 1840, there may have been some Crown actions which infringed the document, however there were many tribal breaches including the murders of settlers and prisoners, and rebellion.

One of the greatest of all Maori in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sir Apirana Ngata, said in 1940 at the centenary celebrations of the signing:

… but for the seal of the sovereignty handed over to Her Majesty and her descendants I doubt that there would be a free Maori race in New Zealand today. … This gentlemen’s agreement called the Treaty of Waitangi on the whole hasn’t been badly observed. 

However, do the two recipients of the top ups have a case for on-going funding?

Ngai Tahu: invaders from the North

The tribe crossed Cook Strait probably sometime in the 17th century and over the decades they slaughtered the Ngatimamoe and Waitaha people, and exterminated the Tumatakokori tribe who had seen Tasman arrive in Golden Bay in 1642.

There was no fighting in the South Island while rebel Maori were fighting the government in Taranaki, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. Consequently there was no land confiscated.

Settlements with the Crown are many and date back to 1868.

  1. Ngai Tahu have done well over the years

    1868 – 4930 acres were handed over by the government.

  2. 1906 – Under the South Island Landless Natives Act 142,463 acres were passed on to the tribe.
  3. 1944 – The Ngai Tahu Claim Settlement Act £300,000 was awarded in what the Act called a full and final settlement.
  4. 1973 – Annual payments of $20,000 were agreed.
  5. 1997 – $170,000,000 was approved by the Waitangi Tribunal and rights to unclaimed South Island greenstone.
  6. Early 20th century there was a further payout of $68,000,000

Then you’ve got the recent top ups of nearly $200 million.

Waikato/Tainui: rebels who suffered land confiscations

These iwi set up a Maori “king” in the late 1850s and the man selected was the elderly, legendary warrior, Te Wherowhero. He had previously worked with the government and wanted to live in peace with the British settlers.

Tawhiao made poor decisions in the 1860s and 1870s and his Waikato people suffered as a consequence

Unfortunately after his death, some of the Kingites got involved in fighting in Taranaki and the new “king” Tawhiao had delusions of grandeur, and claimed to rule everything from North Cape to the south end.

He would not swear allegiance to Queen Victoria and insisted that he was a monarch in his own right. This was a clear breach of the Treaty: the sovereignty of New Zealand was held by Queen Victoria.

Although both Governors Browne and Grey offered wide local government (runanga) powers for the Waikato and surrounding districts, and many of his fellow chiefs supported the idea, Tawhiao remained stubborn.

The rest is history: government forces put down the Kingite rebellion and land was confiscated. Grey and later Native Ministers offered to return much of this land, but again despite the support for this idea from other chiefs like Rewi Maniapoto, Tawhaio would not swear allegiance.

Should the country keep paying out?

Opinions will vary, but at the bar of history, it is hard to justify.









I struggle to understand why Māori have not been given back the land stolen from them by the British Crown. Māori iwi have extended welfare to white colonists since 1840, who have lived off the fat of a land that doesn’t belong to them. Ngāi Tahu were owed $90 billion, but settled for a pittance in order to start earning revenue off the resources they could get back in order to kick start iwi development. And what a fantastic job they are doing. What I also struggle with is the sell-off of state assets decades ago, which fleeced us all and handed out cheap assets to line the pockets of corporates. The writer of this article has issues with history and the allocation and distribution of justice and money perhaps. Tainui were defending their lands – they were never rebels! It is the British who were granted by Māori authority governance over their own people. Browne and Grey “… offered wide local government (runanga) powers for the Waikato and surrounding districts…” Tosh – These two were governors of their own people and had zero authority to be granting runanga powers. Māori chiefs retained tino rangatiratanga, so why do you for one moment think that the governors were granted governing rights – this is perverse. What a prejudiced and discriminatory statement and article. Even I would never swear allegiance to a far-off British Queen. What’s full and final settlement when land and sovereignty were never ceded? This is a legal absurdity. Give us all a break and do some self-learning.

Absolutely agree with your comment Neil Hayes QSM

Treaty settlements to December 31, 2016 totalled $3.07 billion (itemised on Kiwi Frontline), and as we all know in the past year OTS has been very active with the taxpayers’ cheque book, so the total is substantially more than this in 2018. Also, what about the huge peripheral/ancillary costs said by those in the know to easily equal this amount?

The settlements detailed on the link were compiled from information on the Office of Treaty Settlements website and includes claimant group, date of settlement, and dollar value to December 31, 2016. > https://sites.google.com/site/kiwifrontline/enlightenments/treaty-settlements-list—3-07b-financial-redress

Whilst the official figures show that we have given Iwi well over one billion dollars it is believed that the factual figure is well over $20 billion and rising daily! Yet if you look at Iwi assets there is no sign of this amount of money – or where each Government keeps finding such funds – apart from the fact that our medical services are struggling, our educational programs are light years behind the rest of the world, our naturally environment has been destroyed, with all our lakes and rivers polluted and of rare and endangered wildlife will soon be extinct.
Neil Hayes QSM


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