Making War – Making Peace
Sea of Faith Network Conference 2003
Inglewood High School, Taranaki
Speech notes for a keynote address: Sunday, 28 September 2003
"Muru me te Raupatu: Maungarongo"
David V Williams
- Nga mihimihi o te wa / greetings to the land and people.
- It has been my privilege and pleasure to work with tangata whenua in many parts of this land over the last 28 years. My upbringing hardly prepared me for this.
- I was born in Hawkes Bay and brought up "British" at Anglican boarding schools in the 1950s and 1960s, obtained law and history degrees and then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. So it is perhaps a little surprising that I became part of a group of "stirrers" and "radicals" in the Citizens Association for Racial Equality [CARE] in the 1970s and 1980s. My first job was teaching law at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1972 in the optimistic days of African socialism. African friends would ask me simple questions like: "What is New Zealand’s independence day?" My somewhat confusing response to that simple question in an era of decolonisation caused some amusement. "So you celebrate a Treaty between Maori and the British in 1840? You celebrate the arrival of imperialism and colonialism?" With a history degree behind me I might have been expected to have an answer to such questions, but of course my 3 year history degree at VUW contained no New Zealand history at all and nothing else in my upbringing or education helped. Attending TANU Youth League "ideological classes" on theories of African underdevelopment at Dar es Salaam led by a history lecturer from Guyana, Walter Rodney, helped to fill some of the gaps.
- Back in New Zealand in 1974 Joris De Bres and Tom Newnham persuaded me to become Secretary of CARE. In that capacity, and because my free legal skills were useful to Maori activists at a time when practising lawyers had no interest whatsoever in Maori land or the Treaty of Waitangi [How things can change!] I found myself being re-educated about the history of Aotearoa: with Eva Rickard and her whanau at Raglan; the Maori Land March; Joe Hawke and the Orakei Maori Action Committee at Bastion Point/ Takaparawhau; Nganeko Minhinnick and the Huakina Development Trust in the environs of the Manukau harbour; etc. Then there were the Maori language and Waitangi Day protests. Our slogan then: "The Treaty is a Fraud"; by the 1980s it was "Stop the Celebrations"; and then "Honour the Treaty". Rather different slogans, but the kaupapa was basically the same – if Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the original basis for the modern New Zealand state then honour the Treaty according to its terms, if it was not then what is the legitimacy of the state based on?
- Among the scores of marae that I have been welcomed on to attend hui, the names of the wharehui at two marae are of particular relevance to this talk today. In 1992 with a group of geographers from around the Commonwealth, Tipene O’Regan escorted us on Waitangi Day to a house at Arowhenua near Te Umukaha [aka Temuka] in South Canterbury. The name of the house is "Nga Hapa o Niu Tireni" and it honours the call of the 19th century prophetic leader and tohunga, Te Maiharoa, for the Government to attend to the grievances of Ngai Tahu. [ In te reo Kai Tahu ‘hapa’ = ‘hara’. The house is named "The Sins of New Zealand".] Then with Paul and Beverly Reeves (before their vice-regal term) on our way to a hui at Parihaka in 1985 we visited a marae not far from Inglewood where the house is named "Muru Raupatu". The name is a continual reminder, to all who care, of the injustices suffered by Taranaki iwi since the land confiscations by the colonial Government from the 1860s. History is not just what is written in books. It is written in the names of wharehui and it is passed from generation to generation by oral re-telling of significant stories. My hearing of those stories has made them part of my understanding of our history.
- In recent years both the oral and the written histories of Crown/Maori conflicts and compromises from 1840 to the present have been subject to the scrutiny of the Waitangi Tribunal. One of the Tribunal’s most important reports is The Taranaki Report Kaupapa Tuatahi published in 1996, and the subtitle of the report is Muru me te Raupatu, The Muru and Raupatu of the Taranaki Land and People. The Report concludes that: "If war is the absence of peace, the war has never ended in Taranaki, because that essential prerequisite for peace among peoples, that each should be able to live with dignity on their own lands, is still absent and the protest over land rights continues to be made." [p2] Those words seem highly relevant to the peace-making theme of this Sea of Faith conference.
- The Tribunal Report went on to explain what I had learned on my 1985 visit to the wharehui: "Taranaki Maori, unlike Maori of other places, do not use ‘raupatu’ or conquest, to describe confiscations resulting from war. They use ‘raupatu’ for their marginalisation by the organs of the state, for on this view they were never conquered by the sword but were taken by the pen." [pp6-7] Thus ‘raupatu’ in Waikato and elsewhere refers to the land confiscations under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. The Tainui settlement and Crown apology signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II in person is the Waikato Raupatu Claims Settlement Act 1995. In Taranaki, however, the war period of the 1860s was a period of colonial plunder – muru – during which Taranaki fighting forces were not defeated. The victory for the colonial forces was achieved by the vast array of laws passed by Parliament that took land, crushed the political autonomy of the Parihaka prophets, created West Coast land reserves and perpetual lease arrangements, etc – the ‘raupatu’ by the pen. Many of those laws were in direct conflict with the ancient liberties and due process rules of English common law as well as being in flagrant breach of the guarantees of the Treaty of Waitangi.
- If war has never ended in Taranaki, neither has the search for a genuine and lasting peace ever been given up on. That is one of the legacies of the prophetic leadership of Tohu and Te Whiti at Parihaka which Te Miringa Hohaia will no doubt speak about. Non-violent resistance to colonial rule is usually associated with Mahatma Gandhi in India. A piece of oral history, that I heard from a Taranaki kuia who met a leading Gandhian scholar in India, is that Gandhi as a young man, recently qualified as an English barrister and practising in Durban, South Africa, wrote to Te Whiti in his old age. One of the lessons of that correspondence for Gandhi was that he should use the newly invented telegraph to alert his sympathisers in Britain prior to any resistance actions. Thus the imperial government would be subject to immediate parliamentary scrutiny for its actions in suppressing colonial resistance. In the earlier age of despatches by shipping mail, those like G W Rusden who attacked the actions of Bryce at Parihaka in the 1880s were raising issues that in many respects were over and done with long before the news had ever reached London. [See Rusden’s Aureretanga: The Groans of the Maoris.]
- One of the features of peace-making is that the thirst for peace has diverse origins. One of the unfortunate characteristics of debating about war and peace is that it is easy to be trapped into good/bad dualisms. Taranaki iwi are rightly praised for their commitment to non-violent resistance against colonial rule in Taranaki. Taranaki iwi also played a significant role as conquerors of other iwi in the musket wars of the 1820s and 1830s. The role of Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama in the brutal conquest and enslavement of Moriori of Rekohu/ Te Wharekauri/ the Chathams has been the subject of much comment as the result of work by Doug Sutton, Michael King and the Waitangi Tribunal’s Rekohu Report 2001. In a peculiar way this has served to revive the discredited idea that Moriori were a refugee remnant of a peaceful people who were conquered by Maori on the mainland long ago. The subtext of this is that Maori were nasty to other people; early colonisers were nasty to Maori; that’s all in the past, so let’s forget about it all. In my view, sweeping the past under a carpet of collective amnesia is not a way forward to peace-making. We need to know that the three feathers associated to this day with the teachings of Tohu and Te Whiti were albatross feathers reflecting the sacred role of the albatross in the mores of people living on Rekohu/ Te Wharekauri. The symbolism has been transformed so that the three feathers now represent the angelic call to peace: Kia whai kororia Te Atua i runga rawa; kia mau te rongo ki runga ki te whenua; me te whakaaro pai ki nga tangata – Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth; goodwill to all people. People with a past that includes some episodes that, in retrospect at least, appear shameful are also capable of all that is honourable in the conduct of human affairs.
- The belief system encapsulated in the last sentence encourages me in my work for the Waitangi Tribunal as a lego-historian researcher. Collective amnesia is possible if there is no information to counter the prejudices of the ignorant. One of the ways in which the absence of peace in this country shows up is the unwillingness of many to critique governmental policies of the past towards Maori. Sure, there are many positive features of New Zealand life that are sourced in the social, political and cultural contributions of British and other European settlers. But there is also another side of the same coin. Successive government policies of racial amalgamation, assimilation and integration from 1840 to the early 1970s all assumed that civilisation and integration were a one-way process. Maori learned from the Pakeha; Pakeha had nothing more than a song or two to learn from Maori. I have written about a few aspects of those policies in a report now published by the Waitangi Tribunal and available in many public libraries: Crown Policies Affecting Maori Knowledge Systems and Cultural Practices (2001). For reasons thought by governments at the time to be beneficial for Maori, much of our history since 1840 has included a denigration of Maori language and culture. They were considered to be relics of a bygone superstitious past and irrelevant to a modern people in the contemporary world. The collectivism – ‘beastly communism’ – of Maori had to be replaced with the individualism of progress. This was as relevant to health, education and housing policies as to the workings of the Native Land Court. And this was not just the policy of the distant past. It was the policy of National and Labour politicians such as Algie, Corbett, Nash and Hanan in my lifetime during the 1950s and 1960s. In many respects the most grievous loss of Maori language and cultural knowledge systems was a product of policies from 1950 onwards. Maori had had a sound home base in rural papakainga. The promotion of migration to the cities was consciously intended to ‘pepperpot’ Maori into urban life. Deliberate decisions were made to not build Maori communal facilities and to encourage migrants to sell their useless shares in ancestral lands for deposits on new homes. Late in his life Sir Apirana Ngata – long an advocate of an English education to prepare Maori for the new world they must now live in – changed his mind when he saw the startling statistics of language loss among school-age Maori after 1945. But decision-makers preferred the 1920s views of Ngata on English as a priority, rather than his 1940s alarm call for action to save the language and all that it meant to Maori cultural identity. The official view that prevailed in the 1940s and 1950s was that "if the result [of education policies] has been to make Maori lose his language, don’t forget that in its place he has the finest language in the world and that the retention of Maori is after all largely a matter of sentiment."
- When one reads those words – and there are hundreds of documents with similar views to be found in the National Archives – it makes me aware that for those on the receiving end these Crown policies could easily be called cultural genocide. I do not wish to re-litigate the acrimonious debate about the use of the word ‘holocaust’ in the Tribunal’s Taranaki Report and in certain speeches of Tariana Turia. However, I do think it is important that we seriously address issues of cultural oppression, the suppression of tohunga (the oral transmitters of Maori cultural knowledge) by the criminal law, the deliberate marginalisation of te reo Maori, ‘Operation Re-location’ in the 1950s and 1960s, ‘pepperpotting’ policies and similar issues. Most of the focus of current Crown policy on the settlement of Treaty grievances is on losses of land and economic resources. The Wai 262 claim (for which my above-cited report was prepared) is one of the few opportunities that have arisen for cultural oppression issues to be canvassed. Its hearings have taken many years and after all those hearings it is possible that the forthcoming Tribunal report will focus on the narrower issues of intellectual property over indigenous flora and fauna rather than the wider issues of Crown policies that have undermined Maori cultural knowledge systems
- In all the fuss about underpants, frauds, and resignations in Te Mangai Paho and Maori Television Service it seems to have been overlooked that successive governments have been extraordinarily dilatory in attending to the desperate plight of te reo Maori. Huirangi Waikerepuru, a Taranaki elder, was at the forefront of a successful claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1985. Then in the early 1990s he and other Maori litigants in court cases, that went all the way to the Privy Council, achieved confirmation that the Crown owes a duty of active protection to promote and enhance te reo Maori. The language is a taonga covered by article 2 guarantees in the Treaty of Waitangi. So there is a legal obligation, a moral obligation, a Treaty obligation to take significant steps to redress the drastic damage caused by so many decades of assimilation and integration policies. In a recent visit to the United Kingdom I was impressed by the enormous effort since 1982 to promote the revitalisation of the Welsh language, and the more recent efforts to revitalise Gaelic in the Western Isles of Scotland. Peace-making in Aotearoa, in my view, must include much more strenuous efforts to acknowledge the everyday importance of te reo Maori as an official language of this country – not just in bilingual letterheads [Te Tari Taake for the IRD] and "tin a cocoa car tower" [Tena koutou katoa] remarks to preface a speech. Hone Tuwhare in a poignant poem accepts that mangling the language is better than disregarding it completely – but we should be able to do so much better than that.
- There can be no doubt that significant peace-making steps between Maori and Pakeha have taken place in the last 30 years since the Maori Land March and the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. I incline to being a glass half-full optimist rather than a glass half-empty pessimist. Yet it pains me when I hear so much talk about the privileges Maori are supposed to have these days - so much so that non-Maori claim to feel like second class citizens. As Danny Keenan, a Taranaki academic and Treaty settlement negotiator, wrote in the NZ Herald recently: "One does not need to recite endless figures showing negative Maori achievement rates to make the case that Maori hardly occupy a favoured standard of citizenship." [2 Sept 2003] Treaty settlements are a very modest – one might say meagre – token of recompense to tangata whenua for lost property rights. How is it separatism or a breach of the common standards of citizenship to provide redress for unjustifiable losses of property rights? Those rights are recognised in English common law on aboriginal title, in international law and in the Treaty of Waitangi, as well as in their original source under nga tikanga Maori.
- I have been engaged in a Treaty settlement negotiations process working for Te Uri o Hau, a hapu whose ancestral marae are dotted around the northern shores of the Kaipara harbour. It is exhausting hard work. Research on the claim and Waitangi Tribunal hearings occupied many weeks from 1994 to 1998. Then in one year, 1999, our negotiation team met 98 times with Office of Treaty Settlements staff leading up to signing a Heads of Agreement in November of that year. A year later there was a Deed of Settlement, then a Bill, select committee hearings and finally Te Uri o Hau Claims Settlement Act 2002. In the hard work and often difficult negotiations there was a spirit of peace-making because this hapu is determined to move towards socio-economic parity with the general population in their district within a generation. That is the vision. They were determined to put in place mechanisms that would enable them as a hapu to meet national, regional and local government decision-makers in partnership towards achieving that vision. They do not want to remain as supplicants and petitioners. All of us should celebrate and affirm that sort of vision rather than complain about separatist privileges being bestowed on Maori.
- I remain critical of successive governments as to the way that they have approached the Treaty settlement process. Far, far too often governments have taken unilateral decisions and then purported to "consult" with Maori. We need to spend more time thinking about the truth and reconciliation aspects of this whole process. I have written a short critique of governmental one-sidedness that is available in an e-journal: "Honouring the Treaty of Waitangi – Are the Parties Measuring Up?"
www.murdoch.au/elaw/ [vol 9, no 3, September 2002]. We have yet another example of that right now over the foreshore/seabed issues. Part of the problem is that so few decision-makers are at ease in the Maori world. Integration policies of the past were so successful that Maori had to be bicultural but Pakeha could, and did, get by living a monocultural life. Oddly it is right-wingers like Duncan McIntyre and Douglas Graham who have seemed to cope better than most in meeting with Maori kanohi ki te kanohi. A thoughtful piece [23 August 2003] from John Roughan, editor of the NZ Herald, struck a chord with me. In part it read:
"The Appeal Court judges have suggested how tough the tests could be. Left to the law, our rights to be on a beach anywhere around the country would be fairly safe, I suspect. But the Government hasn’t given us a chance to find out.
The decision-makers, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, didn’t even go and listen to Maori gatherings before producing their firm position paper this week. Chances are Maori would have rewarded recognition of their mana with recognition of the rights of public domain.
You’d think that this Government would be better than most at dealing with Maori. ‘Good faith’ is one of its bywords, a cure-all in Labour’s eyes for employment relations and much else.
Good faith would have its own reward from a people acutely sensitive to ceremony, manners and procedure. But ceremony, manners and procedure are not the style of Clark, Cullen and co.
They are secular utilitarians, uncomfortable with formality, averse to pomp and graces, unmoved by spirituality, embarrassed to sing. They would sooner die than dance.
In their inhibitions they are typical of most of us. If I was a Maori I think it would strike me starkly that New Zealand needs the expression of its indigenous culture more than it knows."
Amen to that.
- It is altogether possible for individuals and for peoples to change. One word for that is metanoia. Douglas Ball was the Senior Inspector of Native Schools for a quarter of a century from 1929. In 1966, when he was chairman of the Maori Education Foundation, he spoke to a visiting delegation of Australian educationalists. They recorded his remarks:
"What have been New Zealand’s major mistakes according to Ball? One of them was that since the Treaty of Waitangi, 1840, many things had been done for the Maoris but seldom have they been done with Maoris.
Teachers colleges have done little to equip teachers and very little or nothing to teach the Maori language to teachers. No one in the Education Department has restlessly asked – why are these children being held up? What are the factors or is there indeed a major factor? Ball said that he was ashamed to see how little he really did during his busy round of departmental duties, to examine the matter critically. Only in recent years since he had retired did he seem to have the opportunity of grappling with the problem in any fundamental way."
- So I would encourage all of you at this Sea of Faith gathering to try to grapple with problems in fundamental ways, to be moved by spirituality, to sing and even dance. Maybe I am preaching to the converted. I hope so. But we have a lot of work to do. Ngati Mutunga oppressors of Moriori became stalwarts of the prophets of Parihaka. Ngati Pakeha of Aotearoa New Zealand, the people with whom I identify, have a journey to travel on towards maungarongo – towards the making of peace – in Taranaki and throughout our land. Some of us are on the journey, but not enough of us. And there is a lot of work to be done. Prophets in our tradition call on us to dream dreams and see visions, to hate evil and love good, to let justice roll down like waters, to beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. We may have our own diverse ways of understanding the notion of God/Te Atua, but I hope that, with the tangata whenua of our sacred mountain, we too can proclaim:
Kia whai kororia Te Atua i runga rawa; kia mau te rongo ki runga ki te whenua; me te whakaaro pai ki nga tangata
1. David Williams is Associate Professor in Law, Auckland, and an Independent Researcher in Legal History/Treaty Claims in Aotearoa.