A day to remember as Waikato River Settlement Bill passes into law

Things must have been fairly quiet in parts of the Waikato yesterday (May 6th).  That’s because an awful lot of ‘the locals’ were in Wellington, filling the galleries and the Grand Hall at Parliament, to witness up close and personal the passing of the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Bill.

It was a remarkable afternoon in the House, made more so by the presence of the Maori King Te Arikinui Tuheitia Paki.  The Bill was supported by all but one of the parties in Parliament, so there was quite a celebratory tone and some powerful speeches, many in te reo. I made the effort to say something sensible on behalf of the Greens (you can go here to see if I succeeded!)

As well as (at last) recognising the rights of mana whenua, and that the river was taken illegally by a combination of military and legislative action, the bill puts in place some very positive practical remedies.  It sets up a River Authority, with equal numbers of mana whenua and government appointees, who will work under a co-management arrangement with the primary goal of restoring the health and the mauri of the river.

This model is new for New Zealand, and no doubt it will hit some speed bumps, but it could also inform the format of other settlements still to come.

I would seldom suggest that people read legislation for fun, but in this case it is worth a look at the preamble to the bill (click on Download PDF, preamble is p.6) and the 1st schedule (starts at p.85) which gives the flavour of what has been agreed and the vision and strategy for the future.

The proof of the deal will be in its implementation, as ever, and one hopes all the goodwill expressed today translates into action and positive outcomes for the River and the Waikato – Tainui people.

I suspect the Speaker was a little less diligent than usual in his timekeeping, when it came to the final speech from Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, and that was a good thing, because she spoke with remarkable honesty and with a passion worthy of the occasion.  Following the vote there was an immensely satisfying waiata and haka performed by those in the gallery.

A memorable day, and now the House goes into recess for a week, so we can all get on with our other work around the motu!

5 Comments Posted

  1. “When Māori assert claims to be kaitiaki of a place, it is often seen as an assertion of a right. And indeed it is a right; kaitiaki have rights to places.
    and as prior occupiers of the state known as “New Zealand” there must be many such places?

    But what is often overlooked is that it is also an acceptance of a very significant, absolute, and indeed unavoidable responsibility.
    says who?…. Oh I know …”tikanga”… religion.

    I believe that it is that responsibility, that sense of duty, that drives iwi, hapū, and whānau to have the determination to maintain the claims, to maintain the effort, not just for years or decades but over generations.
    On the other hand the majority of people recognise the value of clean rivers seas and skies; it isn’t uniquely Maori to be concerned about such things. Another motive could be related to group dynamics and identity: building control and self importance.

    There is often confusion and, on occasion, even mockery of Māori spirituality—the fact that Māori acknowledge Papatūanuku and Ranginui. We talk of the mauri of a river. We populate our motu with atua, taniwha, and tūpuna.

    One may observe that as numbers of generations of non-Māori spend longer in this place, they in their turn develop a sense of place, a sense of the value of this place. It goes beyond the ascetic or the amenity, and gets closer to the spiritual attachment felt by indigenous peoples for their earth, their awa, their mountains, and their sky.
    a sense of place is not the same thing as literally believing in Maori spirituality.
    Pure racism

  2. Dave, – It’s so nice to see a bit of gain on the horizon for sustainability.

    Down here in Canterbury we’re still in the trenches but Cantbrians are not ones to quickly wave the white flag.

    Some of us, who have watched with dismay the removal of our elected regional councillors and voting rights, decided to do something about it by putting together a website, called ECan in Exile, where Cantabrians could continue to exercise their democratic regional rights. However we are not aligned to any particular policital grouping or politician but are merely determined to help uphold our democracy.

    You can see the website here:

    (Google search term: ecaninexile)

    ECan in Exile website was formed in response to a public offer by a sitting ECan councillor that some ECan councillors may be prepared to continue to represent their constituents as an ECan in Exile.

    Among the things you can do from Ecan in Exile is:
    – continue to contact ECan elected councillors
    – get on-lne help with ECan democratic processes
    – find help & suggestions for restoring our regional Canterbury democracy
    – keep up to date with ECan news on democracy issues.

    Our click analysis so far shows the most used page is the contact listing of the ECan councillors that were removed by this government. We think this demonstrates that people still value the knowledge and independence of their elected councillors.

    Can I ask any frogblog readers to spread the word around and so help Cantabrians in continuing to exercise their democratic rights, hold the
    commissioner to account and so help community sustainability in the region.

    Helen Isra
    ECan In Exile

  3. It is great to see some good emerging out of what often appears to be a downward spiral under this government. Some hope for the future of the Waikato River.

  4. You don’t say much about how it will affect thee modern generation of Pakeha other than they will develop a sense of place and come to appreciate Maori kaitiakitanga. You also claim Maori are driven by kaitiakitanga but that “this will be a great economic base” and there has been over use etc. Are you a believer in the Maori spiritual world view yourself?

  5. It is great to see some good emerging out of what often appears to be a downward spiral under this government. Some hope for the future of the Waikato River.

    You spoke well, David.

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