The Hauraki Settlement
Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 10:08AM
Bill Barclay

It is only a matter of time before the Hauraki Treaty Settlement is finalised, and the political map alters along with ownership of over one third of the entire land area of the District. Anyone who imagines that the status quo can continue much as it has for the last 150 years is living in cloud cuckoo land. Change is coming, possibly within the next twelve months, but study the TCDC 22 January press release and you will find no mention of any need to reach any kind of accommodation with the soon to be owners of such a large proportion of the District.

In fact, there appears to be the same deliberate attempt to sideline and ignore any possible closer involvement with Iwi in accordance with past practice. This is a pity - particularly in view of the excellent relationship that exists between Ngati Maru Runanga in particular with the Hauraki Council - formalised in a document termed the Kahikatea Protocol and signed on 30 September 2004. A similar protocol exists with the Matamata-Piako Council.

Not many people are aware of the existence of these documents, and even although hardly likely to meet the needs of the Runanga in 2011, they did lay down the ground rules for consultation. The same cannot be said for the relationship with TCDC, and this is almost entirely due to the reluctance of  previous administrations to accept that any group should have privileged consultative access, though an exception was made in terms of an MOU with Ngati Hei. This is ironic when one considers that Thames and its environs constitutes the whenua of Ngati Maru. In fact were it not for the extraordinary generosity of Chief Taipari in the 1860's, it is unlikely that Thames would even exist, certainly not in its present form.

What is of concern is that even with almost a complete change in the Mayoralty and Council, there appears to be a continuation of the previous attitude. There have been regular meetings with Ngati Hei under its MOU in the past, but Ngati Maru's contact with the Council remains at staff level only - admittedly of a nature characterised as excellent by both sides.

The situation has changed somewhat with the advent of non-elected members, with voting rights, being appointed to the Auckland City Council Committees by the Auckland Maori Advisory Board. The Government appears to have been "surprised" (Rodney Hide's word), and the New Zealand Herald editorial of 22 January refers to Aucklanders being "startled" by this turn of events "so late in the day".

The Government appears ambivalent about the voting rights, but clear that the appointments were only meant to be to committees that deal with stewardship of natural and physical resources - they certainly appear to be the only ones mentioned in the legislation. Clearly there remains some water to go under this bridge, but undoubtedly, an undemocratic power has been created that appears unintended in the legislation. 

Whatever the outcome, the landscape has changed, and it is motable that our own David Taipari - Chief Executive of Ngati Maru, a powerful member of the Hauraki Trust Board, and a leader of the Hauraki negotiating group, has been elected Chair of the Advisory Board, ahead of others from Ngati Whatua, or Tainui for example. Mr Taipari's mana has clearly magnified overnight.

This is significant for Auckland - Mr Taipari has strongly defended the right to appoint members to each committee, with voting rights, but equally significant for TCDC, because it makes it highly unlikely that Mr Taipari will be prepared to accept any lesser rights when it come to finalising arrangements with TCDC.  Those demands are hardly likely to stop at the limited advisory role acceptable in terms of the Kahikitea Protocol of 2004.

Councillors will need to prepare themselves for hard bargaining ahead, and for a somewhat altered power structure to emerge over the next year or two that is likely to enrage some of the more entrenched "red-neck" elements, while disturbing those who think the existing arrangements are just fine.

I, along with other Thames and Coromandel Ward Councillors, struggled behind the scenes to persuade the previous Council that entering into a protocol with Ngati Maru may have prevented greater pain in the future. Unfortunately, there was strong Mayoral and Eastern opposition to this point of view and moves in this direction were crushed at birth. Pity, there is very limited goodwill evident in the present structure, and if the current statement of "intent, mission and vision" is anything to go by, almost no understanding of the train wreck ahead if Council continues on its present course.

Mr Taipari has indicated to me that he has a good relationship with the new Mayor. Let's hope that this bears fruit, and that Ngati Maru and other Iwi, can arrive at a satisfactory arrangement with TCDC when the time arrives. But my impression from unguarded statements, is that certain of the recently elected group of councillors harbour similar attitudes to those held by several members of the previous council in regard to making any accommodation with tangata whenua. Interesting times lie ahead.



Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (
See website for complete article licensing information.