As was foreshadowed here before the election, the Crown has buckled to give Maori another 50:50 co-governance deal.
The Maori who have come out of the negotiations triumphant will be popping the champagne corks or their indigenous equivalent to rejoice.
The NZ Herald tells the story –
Far North iwi Te Aupouri will celebrate a major milestone tomorrow when it signs a two-part deal which gives it a hand in governing 90 Mile Beach.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson says he hopes it brings much-needed economic development to one of the most impoverished areas in the country, while a tribal negotiator said the iwi will work hard to move Te Aupouri to a brighter future.
If co-governance arrangements are the secret to boosting economic development, perhaps we should proliferate them around the country.
Come to think of it, bit by bit we are proliferating them around the country but it is being done somewhat insidiously and the Government does not brag too much about this path to brightening our future.
In this case, says the Herald, Te Aupouri is the first of four iwi in the region that will sign individual settlements but collectively settle issues of overlapping interests.
The tribes – Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri – are known as the Te Hiku Forum when they group together.
The beach is one of the collective issues.
The deed of settlement to be signed at Te Kao’s Potahi Marae recognises Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri will have 50 per cent membership on a new beach co-governance board.
The Northland Regional and Far North District Councils will fill the board’s remaining share of seats.
So what does this mean, in terms of representation?
Half the seats at the management table will be held by local government people representing the interests of the whole population in that neck of the woods, both Maori and non-Maori.
The other half will be held by iwi representatives who will be batting only for local iwi.
“The public” are being seriously short-changed.
After this craven surrender, Finlayson was full of flannel about how over three years he had come to like and respect Te Aupouri people but the area faced huge problems.
A helicopter ride where homes without running water and power were pointed out to him was something he would not forget.
“It’s a beautiful part of the country. On the coastline, for example, are some wonderful beaches and beach properties, and you go inland a couple of miles to visit the marae and you see the most appalling poverty.
“Hopefully this settlement … is a part of what’s going to be very much a focus on the Far North.”
But providing running water, electricity and what-have-you hardly requires co-governance arrangements.
Was there any more of this 50:50 stuff in what transpired up north?
Certainly there was. The deal includes giving the iwi-
*Membership of a new Te Hiku Conservation Board, which will have equal public membership and work with the Department of Conservation.
* A joint share of 21,283ha of Crown forest land on the Aupouri Peninsula.
Oh, and we should brace for more surrenders in the future, because another regional tribe, Ngati Kahu, pulled out of the Te Hiku Forum unhappy with terms.
The tribe has applied to the Waitangi Tribunal for binding recommendations to force tribal ownership of government-owned land.
But let’s get back to the thing about developing the economy and giving Maori brighter lives.
How does that work?
In his previous post on this subject, Alf pointed out that revenue now collected by the Crown from tourist buses which use the land will go to a joint Crown-tribal body.
This body will spend the money on projects to regenerate flora and fauna.
Increasingly as the co-governance idea catches on, therefore, we can expect Crown revenue to be channelled into deals that give half the dosh (and maybe more) to iwi.
Are you happy with that?
Or complacently indifferent?