Latest treaty report unwittingly raises a question: who will veto the misuse of the bagpipes?

Alf and his mates have been studying some stuff on the Treaty of Waitangi plucked off

We have given this material a very thorough read. The English stuff, anyway.

And we are buggered if we can find something that commits one bunch of signatories to work in a 50:50 partnership with the other bunch of signatories.

This being so we are driven to regard the latest stuff from the Waitangi Tribunal as another load of bollocks.

Our understanding of the 1000-page report is based on media accounts at this stage, let’s be clear, and it’s fair to suppose few of the hacks have ploughed through 1000 pages.

Moreover, the hacks (journalists ranked way down near the bottom of the recent trustworthiness poll) may have given us a bum steer by misinterpreting the bits they did read.

But according to the HoS –

If ministers accept new Waitangi Tribunal recommendations, Maori would have a right of veto over the use of cultural imagery, and would advise the Government on any patents that use indigenous animal or plant matter.

They could get first dibs on DoC contracts like pest control in national and forest parks.

In other words, by the looks of it, they are to be accorded more privileges.

They could veto Alf’s plan (were he ever to consider such a proposition) to perform a haka at the Eketahuna Club. But what mechanism is contemplated to allow Kiwis with Scottish heritage to veto the use of the bagpipes or the Highland fling, or Kiwis with English heritage to veto the use of – ha! – the morris dance?

None that Alf can see.

And the way he remembers it, lots of Maori performers have done nicely thank you over the years by singing Maori songs to familiar tunes borrowed from their non-Maori composers.

Alf accordingly fears the HoS is spot on with its next observation –

The report could be a spark in the political tinderbox of election year, offering to restore to Maori far more authority than was ever proposed by the Court of Appeal in the foreshore and seabed case.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson finds it difficult to use blunt and unambiguous words like “bollocks” when he addresses this stuff. He is quoted as saying the issues were “very novel” and the Government’s response should not be rushed.

“Rights are never absolute,” he said. “There are public and private interests to consider, as well as other factors like the fiscal situation.”

He wouldn’t be drawn on whether the Government’s response would become an election issue, but warned that there were “shades of the foreshore and seabed debate” in the divided reaction to the report.

But it’s fair to say the report has been more than 20 years in the making, so another 20 years of government deliberation would not be inappropriate.

It was presented yesterday at Roma Marae in Ahipara.

Of course, there is no pleasing some people and

… Maori Party MP Rahui Katene, daughter of one of the original claimants John Hippolite, said the report had been watered down and politicised.

“The claim is about tino rangatiratanga or Maori control of things Maori,” she said. “The report goes nowhere near dealing with that.”

The tribunal identified only one breach of the Treaty of Waitangi – the Tohunga Suppression Act, 1907, which banned rongoa (traditional healing).

The act was repealed in 1962. But Katene was scathing:

“To say there is only one breach is really ignoring the reality of what happened to each of those claimant iwi, and iwi all around New Zealand.”

Lawyer Annette Sykes, counsel for one claimant group, said her claimants have asked Mana Party leader Hone Harawira about taking their concerns to Parliament.

But let’s check our understanding of the report (sparse at this stage it must be acknowledged) against the stuff on the treaty at

New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was prepared over just a few days in February 1840. On the day that it was first signed, there were versions in English and Maori. See also a pdf version with explanatory footnotes by Professor Hugh Kawharu.

And then –

Waikato-Manukau Treaty copy (English)

HER MAJESTY VICTORIA Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland regarding with Her Royal Favour the Native Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and anxious to protect their just Rights and Property and to secure to them the enjoyment of Peace and Good Order has deemed it necessary in consequence of the great number of Her Majesty’s Subjects who have already settled in New Zealand and the rapid extension of Emigration both from Europe and Australia which is still in progress to constitute and appoint a functionary properly authorised to treat with the Aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her Majesty’s Sovereign authority over the whole or any part of those islands – Her Majesty therefore being desirous to establish a settled form of Civil Government with a view to avert the evil consequences which must result from the absence of the necessary Laws and Institutions alike to the native population and to Her subjects has been graciously pleased to empower and to authorise me William Hobson a Captain in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy Consul and Lieutenant-Governor of such parts of New Zealand as may be or hereafter shall be ceded to her Majesty to invite the confederated and independent Chiefs of New Zealand to concur in the following Articles and Conditions.
Article the first [Article 1]

The Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent Chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess over their respective Territories as the sole sovereigns thereof.
Article the second [Article 2]

Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Preemption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.
Article the third [Article 3]

In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects.

(signed) William Hobson, Lieutenant-Governor.

Which bit of that lot tells us the Maori signatories were entitled to privileges they are now claiming, such as first dibs on government contracts?

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