Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Oral submission Māori Affairs Select Committee – New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016

Te Wharepora Hou In support of the Hapū and Iwi of Te Atiawa and the struggle for the return of the Pekapeka Block in Waitara share the following oral submission presented at the first Māori Select Committee meeting held in Ngamotu (New Plymouth) on Friday November 18th 2016.  We encourage people across Aotearoa and beyond to read the links provided and to support the online petition to support the reu




screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-10-14-53-amKo te tuatahi, he mihi aroha ki ngā Tūpuna e mau tonu ana tenei kaupapa hohonu. Tena koutou katoa ngā ringa raupa o te Māori Affairs Select Committee, rau rangatira mā e haere mai nei ki te whakarongo ki te tautoko ngā kai kōrero i tenei wā, ki ngā kai kōrero i mua i ahau kei te mihi.  Ko Taranaki te maunga, ko Ngati Mutunga te iwi ko Raumati te whānau.

This oral submission adds context to the written submission and to our recommendations. I am a member of the NZ Association of Counsellors, a member of the Taranaki Māori Women’s Network (TmwN) and also the Director of Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Inc. (TTW). The Taranaki Māori Women’s Network is a collective who hold in trust the wellbeing of Taranaki and whose purpose is to creatively respond to issues that impact on whānau, hapū and iwi by way of the contemporary application of tikanga Māori to ameliorate the effects of historical trauma on the collective.

The taonga tuku iho (non-negotiable treasures) handed on to us by our Tūpuna and the principles exemplified by Te Raukura encourage members to enact collective ownership, responsibility and accountability by strengthening whānau relationships, cultural practices and to actively pursue the reclamation and resurrection of protective hapū institutions.
Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki is a kaupapa Māori tangata whenua development and liberation organisation. The values that underpin it are tikanga Māori which is central to all service provision with the primary aim of empowering whānau, hapū and iwi to address historical and intergenerational trauma in the context of our lives today. The organisation has a responsibility to provide all whānau with an analysis of the socio-cultural, economic and political factors that impinge upon our lives and to maintain and promote; te wairua, te mana, te tapu, te ihi me ngā moemoea o ngā Mātua Tūpuna.

It is not helpful to forget our past. Whaitara has been earmarked by colonial imperialist history to be marginalised and to be fragmented, lost and confused culturally, socially and economically because our Tūpuna initiated a passive resistance movement – meaning resistance to government, law etc without violence by fasting, by demonstrating, and by refusing to cooperate. The passive resistance movement of Taranaki originated from Whaitara when Te Rangitake sent the women out to pull up the survey pegs. Thus began Te Pahua Tuatahi – Te Pahua o Whaitara – the plunder of Whaitara.

These days most people have some knowledge about Te Pahua o Parihaka – the plunder of Parihaka in 1881 but the first plunder was Te Pahua o Whaitara in 1865 one hundred and fifty one year’s eleven months and 9 days ago this fact has been relegated to the deep recesses of history and people’s minds because of te riri a te pakeha at the actions of our Tūpuna in challenging the authority of the Crown and its representatives – te puku riri remain, smouldering within them. But if we were to ask about this anger there would be denial that it even exists and responses would probably be ‘he iwi tahi tatou’, or about ownership and being able to freehold, having a roof over ones heads etc.

Our Tūpuna and subsequently their mokopuna have paid a great price for exercising their democratic right and responsibility in expressing their displeasure and disagreement with being rendered landless and turned into paupers in their own homelands. The debilitating colonial punishment, of a passive resistance movement, has left a corrosive soul wound which needs to heal and reminding the NPDC and general public about this injustice is to bring it back into the moral vision of the entire community.

The theft of Taranaki lands are a fact and create a shared history of one group being disposed and left destitute in their own lands and the other group wilfully benefiting from the spoils of thief, forced dispossession and war. The intergenerational fallout from this shared history has created disease in many forms. Some are easy to see and identify; such as family violence and diabetes but there are other diseases that are much more difficult to see or identify; such as greed, entitled and privileged behaviour that cultivates institutional racism and an unwillingness to return the spoils of stolen property. Behaviours that create dis-ease with oneself and in the company of others who are perceived as the ‘other’, therefore unknowable and possibility dangerous. How do we dare to speak our truth? Where is the safety, when the dominant political discourse comes from a position of wilful ignorance about history; and the drafters of this Bill have no concept of their privileged positions in it.

Poverty is not just about money or income. It is about unequal distribution of resources and the valuing of some interests over others; often those of a rich, well off and powerful minority over the interests of the disempowered. You have heard others this morning, including lease holders, describe that at a structural level this Bill involves the establishment of layers of new systems to determine how resources will not only be obtained, but how they will be distributed and to whom. These systems will again construct who will benefit and therefore who will be privileged and an institutional arrangement that is not appropriate for Māori is just inherently racist. This Bill will again set up structural conditions that perpetuate disadvantage for the dispossessed and will only serve to perpetuate advantage for those that have already benefited from the spoils of ill-gotten gain.

But the real issues of addressing privilege within the community and public arena are kept at bay often by the use of sanitising language; one example is the term endowment, which gets bandied about in relation to the Pekapeka like it was a gift bestowed upon our colonisers as a thank you pressie for rescuing us from ourselves.

But a gift is not a gift until it is freely offered. A gift is not a gift until it is freely given!

TTW brings a gift which is freely offered and originates from the work it does which originates from historical trauma and the legacy of colonial paternalistic ideologies of racial, gender and spiritual supremacy. We bring the gift of un-sanitised language, it is not intended to cause offense although it may do so because the real context of this almighty theft needs to be put in language that is understandable to everyone and there can be no uncertainty about what is being said.

Along with several others at TTW I am a family violence programme facillitator, educator and community researcher. We do group and individual programmes for women and children victims of violence and exposure to violence and also for male perpetrators of family violence. The three main areas of violence addressed are physical, psychological and sexual violation; the other areas that feed into those three are of course colonalisation and racism. Interestingly victim impact reports readily identify the areas of physical and psychological violation however sexual violation is not.

We enquire about context, and often the response is in line with “he just helps himself; or the biblical bit; comes like a thief in the night; – oh it can be day or night, it doesn’t matter – he just takes what he wants!” During the conversations that follow, reframing does occur and then also having to address the feelings of shame and feeling overwhelmed that this has happened to them.

In the men’s group, once they decide to stop playing the victim, physical and psychological violation is acknowledged but sexual violation is a clear no. Absolutely not no way. Rapists are considered the lowest of the low, they are scum, mongrels, and they are out there not in here.

We hear things like – “I work for what I get I’m really charming, I contribute to the family, I pay my way”. Great, economy based language. We are impressed – so you work hard, you do things together, make agreements, negotiate time etc; then we start to talk about sharing the good and bad times, together, making decisions together, asking permission, right of refusal, no really meaning no. As in, No, the complete sentence No!

Then it begins to dawn, understanding begins to unfold, that rapists aren’t really out there somewhere else that they are right here sitting next to them, actually, sitting on their seats. And possibly for the first time they begin to feel the impact that of some of their actions might have on other people.

Feelings of shame and understanding that by violating others you also violate yourself; their own whakapapa has been violated as well as their sense of belonging and connectedness to place.

The theft of the land is exactly the same. The land has been raped; therefore the people have been raped. We are one and the same! The feelings are the same; the effects are the same.

So how do we address violation? I’m sure you all know this but we will say it again anyway. It’s addressed by being accountable for our actions, by putting things right, by doing the right thing, by making a sincere apology and undertaking to NEVER behave in that manner again. However, ultimately, accountability needs to be internalised by the perpetrator on their journey of change behaviour; because nobody can make them accountable, they have to choose to be accountable, so, to place restraints around their behaviour and to tighten the web of accountability are important and legitimate actions, especially with a serial offender, this is to help reduce ongoing risk to the community.

Because a gift is not a gift until it is freely offered. A gift is not a gift until it is freely given!

Our tupuna gifted may tracks of land. For example land for mara, to grow kai on so people could survive, they even showed people how to live in their new environment, they gave land for educational institutions, land for institutions of worship to name a few.

But the Pekapeka was not gifted. It was stolen. It was not a gift it was stolen. And what do we do with stolen property? We return it to the victim of the theft at no cost to the victim.

The drafters of this Bill really need to stop behaving like the Pekapeka was gifted to them because it was not. And it is ironic that the drafters of this Bill have attempted to disguise Pre-emption as a fair and balanced solution instead of ensuring the hapū can regain the unqualified right to exercise full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other properties. A gift is not a gift until it is freely offered.

TTW recommends the MASC to:
• And we are going to use the words of a Colonel Robert Trimble, who in 1885 made a speech about the Treaty of Waitangi while defending the invasion, destruction and occupation of Parihaka; but we am going to repeat his words in relation to this New Plymouth District Council Waitara Lands Bill 2016 … “which I hope will be relegated to the waste paper basket which is about the only place it ought to be seen in.”

• And we recommend the MASC direct the NPDC to return the stolen lands to the hapū that hold mana whenua over the Pekapeka, without ‘strings attached’.

• Require the NPDC to undertake authentic and genuine dialogue with the Manukorihi and Otarua hapū about the stolen Pekapeka lands and that the NPDC put a stop to its ongoing shameful and disrespectful conduct in attempting to further alienate the Pekapeka from both hapū.

• That the NPDC support Manukorihi and Otarua Hapū, to utilise the hapū lands for their authentic purpose that is to benefit the collective not just a few people.

• We recommend that the Select Committee consider and give weight to our request that the NPDC be directed to return fair reparations to lease holders who have been paying a lease for their own stolen lands and that the time frame commence from the Sim Commission Report to the present day.

• We recommend that the Select Committee establish an independent inquiry, funded by the Crown, to fully investigate endowment and leasehold properties on the Pekapeka in Waitara that have been privatised since the restructuring of local government in 1989. And that the inquiry requires the NPDC to give a full account of what the proceeds gained from the stolen property was spent on including the amount spent on legal fees that have been funded from Waitara leasehold payments and sales.

• TTW recommends the MASC encourages the NPDC to do the right thing, to engage and help create an alternative future and to join into a decisive conversation, to make it relevant and new and to help invigorate it in our own unique Taranaki way. Because this did not happen, this did not happen with the drafting of this Bill; being able to ‘twick’ it here or there does not amount to co-creating nor is it an act of justice to any of the parties concerned.

• We support and encourage the Select Committee to show leadership in relation to these stolen lands so that the damage that has been inflicted on the Whaitara community can begin to be repaired and start to heal. The healing of this festering corrosive soul wound will benefit the whole community and the entire Taranaki region; in fact it will benefit our Nation because our country has been holding its breath for a long time. If you allow NPDC to continue to do business as usual it will not serve community wellbeing. Return the stolen lands and we will hear a collective sigh of relief. The diseases in this region are our stories etched into our land and bodies. Even if they are our inherited legacies they can be rewritten. This is an opportunity to rebalance and rewrite our inherited legacies.

To the members of the MASC, our kaumatua and members of all our communities, thank you for hearing this oral submission from TTW today; and our final words today are to Manukorihi and Otarua hapū “me kore rawa koe e taka – don’t ever give up – me kore rawa koutou e taka”.
No reira rau rangatira mā tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

Acknowledgements & references: Waitangi Tribunal Report – Te Kaupapa Tuatahi, Sims Commission Report, Hansard report, Professor Linda Smith, Dr Ramona Beltran, Dr Leonie Pihama, Dr Mihi Ratima, Mereana Pitman, Dr Janice Wenn, Moana Jackson, Veronica Tawhai, Vivian Hutchinson, Kaimahi & Trustees TTW


Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

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