Speech for Launch of Dame Judith Binney's ‘Encircled Lands’ at Parliament

  • Christopher Finlayson
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā kārangatanga maha

Nga manuhiri tuārangi

Tuhoe rohe, Tuhoe iwi

Tae atu ki ngā hoa o te whare paremata

Me ngā apiha o tēnā tari o tēnā tari

Piki mai kake mai

Nau mai haere mai

Haere mai ki tēnei pō nui, pō tino whakahirahira mo Kahurangi Judith Binney, mo Ngai Tuhoe otira mo te motu.

Ka nui taku mihi atu ki a Kahurangi Judith Binney mo tēnei taonga e tuku ake nei ia ki te motu. Kei roto i te pukapuka nei ana tuhinga pono i ngā hua rangahau e pā ana ki a koutou o Ngai Tuhoe me te Karauna i ngā tau ki muri.

He kaupapa tino taumaha tēnei mō koutou e hui tahi nei ki te Karauna . I te mea he maha ngā mahi tinihanga a te Karauna ki runga I a koutou mātua tipuna I ngā tau neke atu ki muri. Ko koutou ngā uri e waha nei i ngā pāmamae i heke mai a rātou mā.

He maha ngā kōrero mo ngā tono a Tuhoe ki te Karauna mo o rātou whenua i roto i ngā tau kua mahue ake nei.

I te tau 1895 i heke mai ētahi rangatira o te Urewera ki te kawe i ngā take whenua ki te whare paremata. Nā Tā Timi Kara te mema paremata i whakatākotongia ngā tono a ngā rangatira o te Urewera i mua i te aroaro o te  whare.  Ko ētahi o ngā rangatira i taua wa; ko Marunui, ko Harehare, ko Rewi, ko Tokopounamu, ko Mihaere, ko Te Korowhiti, ko Paraki, ko Wharepapa me ētahi atu.   

Nā ka heke  mai ki a koutou, ngā māngai kaiwhakarite  o ngā hapū o Tuhoe, ki te whakatutuki i ngā kerēme.  Ehara tēnei i te take māmā mō koutou. Ehara anō i te take māmā mō te Kāwanatanga. I runga i ēnei āhuatanga, ko tētahi o ngā mea whakahirahira mō tātou - ko te kōrerorero tonu tētahi ki tētahi, ahakoa i ētahi wā, kā tino uawa ngā whiriwhiringa.

E rau rangatira mā, ko taku tino wawata, kia tutuki tēnei kaupapa whakahirahira i runga i te rangmarie mō tātou katoa, arā a Ngai Tuhoe, te Kāwanatanga me te motu.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.

Thank you all for joining me today to mark the recent launch of Dame Judith Binney's Encircled Lands: Te Urewera, 1820-1921. I welcome you all to Parliament, especially Dame Judith's family and friends and those who have travelled to be here today.

This afternoon's events are tinged with sadness because, as we all know, Dame Judith is still in hospital following her accident. I have heard through the kumara vine, however, that Dame Judith argued strongly at a meeting planning her recuperation earlier this week that she should be travelling to Wellington today to be here with us.

Unfortunately, this has not been possible, but we are going to post a video on the internet so she can see it later tonight. Her husband, Sebastian Black, agreed that this event should still be held, and that is what Dame Judith wanted as well. Our thoughts are with Dame Judith, her family and her friends at this difficult time and we wish her a speedy recovery.

I don't need to tell anyone here of the contribution Dame Judith has made to New Zealand. She is a leader in a number of fields. She is also a valued member of the Arts Council, to which I appointed her earlier this year. She had been a member of the Historic Places Trust but I was very keen to have her on the Arts Council because I thought it important to have someone of her academic standing on such an important body.

I also extend a special welcome to members of Ngāi Tūhoe. I always tell people that the Treaty Negotiations portfolio is the best job a person can have. When accepting the Montana Book Award for History earlier this year for his "Buying the Land, Selling the Land", Professor Richard Boast described the settlement of historic Treaty grievances as a noble cause. To be one of the stewards of that noble cause is a genuine privilege. One is dealing with the history of New Zealand and, in the words of Isaiah, hopefully making a positive contribution to help people undo the heavy burdens of the past. The thing I like about this job most of all is the opportunity to meet and get to know iwi and their members. I can honestly say that getting to know Ngai Tuhoe this year has been a particular pleasure. I didn't know much about you other than what I'd read in the history books but I feel that, as a result of visiting Ruatoki on a number of occasions, including for the Ahurei, and having met with your excellent negotiating team, including Tamati Kruger and Kirsty Luke, we are getting to know one another and I remain very positive that together we will be able to conclude a just and durable settlement of your grievances.

I particularly want the Crown and Ngai Tuhoe to look to the future together and be optimistic about relationships post-settlement. I am conscious, however, that it is foolhardy to ignore the past. The ancient Roman writer Cicero once said: nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Not to know what happened before one was born is always to remain a boy. Indeed, those who ignore history are condemned always to see the world as children. That is why this book is so important and why the work of Dame Judith on behalf of Ngai Tuhoe has been so important.

The book Encircled Lands was formally launched at Waikirikiri Marae in Ruatoki several weeks ago. By all accounts it was a memorable occasion. Dame Judith told those close to her that the book launch was "one of the best days of her life". I had hoped to attend but could not because of Cabinet meeting on Monday morning.

This comprehensive 600-odd page book is an impressive and beautiful work - the culmination of many years of hard work and intensive research by Dame Judith. It draws on the two-part report she was commissioned by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust to write for the Waitangi Tribunal.

Encircled Lands recovers the ‘lost history' of Te Urewera, the Ngāi Tūhoe people and members of neighbouring iwi, for example Ngati Whare, with whom I signed a deed of settlement last week at te Whaiti Marae. In particular, it documents the first hundred years of Te Rohe Pōtae o Te Urewera - the "encircled lands" of the Urewera - following European contact.

I haven't yet read the book. I am taking it away with me for my annual holiday and I give you a solemn undertaking that, when I return, I will have read it cover to cover. I have given the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister copies of the book as their Christmas presents and my staff has also received copies. I think I am probably the number one contributor to Dame Judith's royalties because, to date, I have purchased ten copies.

Because I haven't yet read the book, I don't propose to try to summarise it in other than the most superficial manner. There is, however, one particular section that I have read, if only because the events so interest me.

The first thing I did when I was given my copy of the book was to read about former Premier Richard John Seddon meeting representatives of Tuhoe in the mid 1890s, including his boat trip across Lake Waikaremoana where he almost drowned and his introduction of the unique Urewera District Native Reserve Act, which enshrined Ngāi Tūhoe's tribal boundaries in law and essentially granted the tribe a degree of self-autonomy.

The great hopes expressed in that legislation were then dashed over the next quarter-century as the legislation was undermined and it was eventually repealed in 1921 without any discussion with Ngai Tuhoe. Thereafter, the history of the twentieth century was a history of more broken promises as Ngai Tuhoe was gradually pushed out of having any involvement in the management of Te Urewera, your homeland.

There are several words in the English language that I think are overused. The two that annoy me most are ‘passionate' and ‘celebration'. They are so overused that they have become devoid of any meaning. So it is with the word ‘unique'. People say something is unique when, in all reality, it is just a bit out of the ordinary.

But my understanding of Ngai Tuhoe is that Te Urewera is unique. One has only to look at a map to see the extent of Maori land within the boundaries of Te Urewera. The legislation Seddon negotiated was unique. There was nothing else like it in New Zealand. This is not a special situation; nor, indeed, is it an exceptional situation. This is a unique situation, as that word is supposed to be used.

I am very fond of a speech JFK gave shortly before he was sworn in as President. In it he said: "of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us... our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions... First, were we truly people of courage; secondly, were we truly people of judgment; third, were we truly people of integrity; finally, were we truly people of dedication?

In order to achieve a just and durable resolution of the differences between Ngai Tuhoe and the Crown, both sides will need to show all these qualities.

  • First, courage - the courage to acknowledge the past and be prepared to design a settlement which is appropriate for the circumstances and then be prepared to justify the settlement and to explain and defend it. New Zealanders are fair-minded, decent people and, if they have the facts explained to them properly, they will support such a settlement.
  • We need to exercise judgement. Some years ago, I visited British Columbia to see how that province was getting on with resolving differences of opinion between native Canadians and the Crown. Someone gave me a speech by the Premier which had stunned everyone. The Premier, who was from the Liberal Party but the conservative side of politics, was not considered to be someone sympathetic to the plight of native Canadians. But he gave an outstanding address to the First Nations Summit in September 2005, the theme of which was "we are all here to stay". We all have to recognise that, although there are differences, we are all part of the same community and we have to get on. We can't walk away from one another.
  • Third, we need to show integrity. JFK said those with integrity are people who never run out on either the principles in which they believe or the people who believe in them. That applies to us as well.
  • Finally, we need to be dedicated to the task of achieving a just and durable settlement, recognising that there is no easy path. If there was, it would have been sorted out ages ago. There will, as there have been, be disappointments and set-backs. We may not reach a settlement as quickly as we would like, but we have to dedicate ourselves to the task of settlement and, allied to that, believe in one another.

This is an important day, not only for those of us gathered in Parliament this afternoon, but for our country. Books such as this one help us to understand our country. As I have said, if we want to improve on the present, we have to understand the past. That is why Michael King's book on Moriori is so important, as is the political history of Te Arawa written by Vincent O'Malley and David Armstrong. It is why James Belich's books on New Zealand are so important if we are to have an understanding of the kind of country we are today.

I hope as many New Zealanders as possible will read this book and learn about Ngai Tūhoe and their leaders: Erueta Tamaikoha, Te Makarini Tamarau, Te Whenuanui, Kereru Te Pukenui, and Rakuraku Rehua, all of whom tried their best to promote and defend the rohe potae from incursions and confiscations, and who led their people with great dignity, just as their current leaders are fine people with whom it is a pleasure to work with as we seek to achieve a just and enduring settlement.

Thank you once again for coming to Parliament and thank you particularly to your negotiators for their hard work this year. I look forward to seeing a lot more of you in 2010.