Speech to Taranaki Chamber of Commerce and TOI Foundation breakfast

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

Tākiri mai ana te ata
Ki runga o ngākau mārohirohi
Kōrihi ana te manu kaupapa
Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea
Tihei mauri ora

Let the dawn break
On the hearts and minds of those who stand resolute
As the bird of action sings, it welcomes the dawn of a new day

Morena, good morning everyone, and thank you all for coming. Enjoy the kai, and this opportunity to hear about the Crown’s agreement with Taranaki iwi over the future governance of our maunga, Mount Egmont/Mount Taranaki.

Can I acknowledge the Chamber and your members, TOI Foundation, local MPs Glen Bennett and Angela Roberts, and regional councillors.

Can I also acknowledge the eight iwi of Taranaki: Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi, Ngāruahine, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Tama, Taranaki iwi and Te Āti Awa.

Today is an important day for Taranaki, and for all of its people – including this boy from New Plymouth.

Taranaki is rich in history - Māori, Pākeha, multicultural.

Not all of that history has been pleasant. The challenge for recent generations, and all of us today, is to acknowledge the past, address its consequences, and move forward together.

Parihaka is one word and place that has deep meaning throughout New Zealand, and in fact around the world. Leaders, from the struggle for independence in India, to the black civil rights movement in the USA, have cited the example of peaceful protest and resistance here, and ultimately, out of conflict, pursuing peace.

Generally, we New Zealanders like it when we’re recognised on the world stage. But like many people who grew up around these parts – and, in my case, who learned about our history later in life – Parihaka raises uncomfortable feelings. Once you know, you can’t unknow.

The story of Taranaki is the story of much of New Zealand. Māori who had lived here for generations and generations had their lands confiscated. They were duped out of it through unscrupulous land deals. Many were left virtually landless, driven from their villages, or from the area entirely. Food sources on land and at sea were polluted and degraded. The language went too.

The actions of the Crown saw tāngata whenua lose their connection to their place to stand, their turangawaewae. In the shadow of the mountain we all so love, they lost their livelihoods. They also lost lives.

But we’ve been on a journey of reconciliation. Over the past few decades we have acknowledged many of the historical injustices through redress agreements with local iwi. All eight Taranaki iwi have reached agreements to settle their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Can I just say, too, while the monetary value of those agreements is around $350 million, that’s a tiny fraction of the loss and harm that was suffered.

So we confront that past. We own it. And that lets us face the future, together.

Later this morning, in Okaiawa, Ngā Iwi o Taranaki and I as the Crown representative will initial the final historical Treaty of Waitangi redress deed affecting the Taranaki region.

That is the Taranaki Maunga Collective Redress Deed, Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo, and it principally addresses longstanding issues about our mountain, the surrounding peaks, and the national park.

Today, I want to talk about how we’ve reached this agreement, and what it means.

I want to talk about why this is another important step in the national journey to honour the Treaty of Waitangi - and why honouring the Treaty is the right thing to do, for the future of Taranaki and all who live here.

Today has been a long time coming.

The nation state of New Zealand started 183 years ago following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty was the agreement that allowed the British Crown to establish government. That agreement involved an exchange.

In exchange for establishing the nation state government, Māori interests, such as land, fisheries and customary rights, would be protected and their leadership respected. But those promises were not upheld. In fact, they were breached, sometimes egregiously.

The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 to investigate breaches from that date, and 10 years later its mandate was extended to include claims of breach going back to the signing of the Treaty.

But, for Māori in Taranaki, the pursuit of justice in relation to the Crown’s Treaty breaches began long before the Tribunal was established.

In 1865, the Crown confiscated 1.2 million acres of Taranaki land, including the mountain. It was punishing those who had taken up arms to protect their lands. And from 1870 and 1930, Māori from Taranaki sent over 260 petitions to Parliament.

A renewed assertion of the rights of Māori and the active engagement in those issues by the Waitangi Tribunal were a feature of the Think Big years of the 1980s. This was a time when the full picture of Taranaki’s history started to be exposed to many Pākeha. The modern settlement process really got under way at that time.

For many Māori in Taranaki, issues about the Crown’s actions in relation to the mountain have been a central grievance.

When the first Treaty settlement was negotiated in Taranaki in 2001, it was agreed that issues relating to the maunga would be set aside and negotiated with all eight iwi at the table.

When the last set of negotiations got underway in 2017, discussions about the maunga redress began. 

As with all such agreements, there will now be a ratification process. If the Deed is ratified then it will be signed, and legislation will be prepared so that Parliament can put the Deed into law.

I want to be very clear. Over successive governments, and during many rounds of negotiations over this agreement, the objectives of the Crown and Taranaki iwi have been the same: to reflect the importance the mountain has for all of the people of Taranaki; to reaffirm the customary rights and spiritual connection of local Māori to this sacred landmark; and to ensure these values are properly reflected in the way the mountain and the park is cared for and managed today, and in the future.

It has always been about every one of us, those living today, and those who are yet to be born.

You don’t have to live here to experience the powerful presence of our mountain. The effect it has. The moods it expresses.

The days you see it. And the days you can’t. Feeling its presence regardless. Majestic. Brooding. Watching. Protecting.

For many of us – for me still - it is the symbol of home.

Although the story of each iwi in Taranaki is different – from their origins, their experiences, the losses and harm suffered, their settlements, their renaissance - there has always been one common concern.

The mountain. The maunga.

Local Māori saw the state rename Taranaki as Mount Egmont.

No-one in New Zealand did that. No-one thought to ask if the people living in this region would agree to it.

The name Egmont was granted by Captain James Cook from onboard his ship. Captain Cook never set foot in Taranaki. He only saw the mountain, and obviously it impressed him too, because Egmont was the name of a sponsor of his voyage, John Perceval, the Second Earl of Egmont and First Lord of the Admiralty.

The Earl was an important figure in his time and in his country. But he didn’t have a personal connection to Taranaki. According to one account I have seen, Perceval wasn’t ever made aware that a mountain had been renamed in his honour.

And yet, such is the history of New Zealand, that ultimately official documents came to accord that name to our mountain exclusively until 1986. Egmont National Park.

This never sat well with many in the local community. It was people in Taranaki who drove the effort to officially add the name Taranaki alongside Egmont.

Those efforts generated enormous controversy. It seems that at different points in time all of us have worried about what changing our mountain’s name could mean for us, our heritage, our region and our country.

The claims made by the iwi of Taranaki about the maunga sought to address those things that had destroyed their kaitiakitanga/guardianship relationship with it - that loss of their formal connection to the taonga/treasure, which was supposed to be protected by the Treaty.

I’m pleased that we have now reached agreement. I now want to set out the main elements:

  • The Crown will make an apology for its historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. The apology will include:
    • The Crown is sorry that the promise of partnership that arose in 1840 so quickly became a history of conflict, confiscation, and neglect;
    • The Crown will profoundly apologise for its confiscation of Taranaki Maunga in 1865;
    • The Crown hopes that through this apology the connections to ngā maunga can be restored and strengthened, so that future generations might again look to Taranaki as a symbol of resilience and hope, rather than of loss.
  • Next, the official name of the national park will be changed. It will be Te-Papa-Kura-o-Taranaki, meaning ‘the highly regarded and treasured lands of Taranaki’. The name Egmont will be removed completely. The main peak will be known as Taranaki Maunga.
  • Other ancestral peaks on the mountain and across the ranges will also be recognised: Pouākai, Patuhā, Kaitake and Panitahi (Fantham’s Peak).
  • The Mount Egmont Vesting Act 1978 (under which the mountain was vested in the Taranaki Māori Trust Board and then gifted back to the Crown) will be repealed and a new legal framework established for the mountain. This framework involves recognising the mountain as a legal person, and other structures created to support governance and kaitiakitanga  of it (which I will explain shortly).
  • The national park will continue to be administered under the National Parks Act 1980.
  • There will be a $35 million contribution made to the iwi collective entity, Te Tōpuni Ngārahu, to assist in exercising its statutory functions and support the health and wellbeing of the maunga.
  • The deed also includes an agreed historical account which sets out in more detail the history of Crown Treaty breaches in relation to Taranaki Maunga and the surrounding lands.

Firstly, the eight iwi of Taranaki will have a new collective body to act on behalf of all iwi. That body will be named Te Tōpuni Ngārahu.

The national park including the mountain and the surrounding peaks will be vested in its own legal entity named Te Kāhui Tupua, meaning ‘the collective of ancestors’. That will have all the rights, powers, duties and responsibilities of a legal person – which is a similar arrangement to what has been done before, such as with the Whanganui River and Te Urewera.

And as has been the case with those previous examples, a representative entity will be established to act as the human face and voice of Te Kāhui Tupua (which, remember, is the mountain, the national park, and the surrounding peaks).

That representative body will be made up of four Crown appointees and four iwi appointees, all of whom must act in the best interests of the maunga. This entity will be named Te Tōpuni Kōkōrangi.

What these new arrangements mean is that the responsibility to care for this most special of places rests with us all. It reflects the mana of local iwi over their maunga.

And it upholds the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty, on behalf of all New Zealanders.

But what does that mean? The Crown’s obligations under the Treaty? And what are those obligations?

As Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations I’m not blind to the contention around it. There are so many reasons for that.

The Treaty is not a single document. There are two principal versions, one in English and one Te Reo Māori that are not entirely the same; there are some variations between the copies that were distributed and signed; some iwi signed and some did not. For a very long time the Crown failed to meet the Treaty obligations, which were set out in 1840 as the basis for our state and for communities to live peaceably together.

However, extensive jurisprudence over many decades, from the Waitangi Tribunal to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, has helped shape and affirm the Crown’s obligations to its Treaty partners.

I draw your attention to these words in the Treaty:

… the unqualified exercise of … [Māori] chieftainship over their lands, villages and … treasures.

These words have meaning and impose obligations on the Crown.

The Treaty is not an agreement between Pākeha and Māori. It is an agreement between the Crown and Māori.

And making that agreement work requires finding ways through difficult issues together, by respectfully coming to mutual understandings.

It’s what we’ve been working on for decades. It is our national journey of reconciling the past, and honouring the Treaty.

Some call joint arrangements “co-governance”. Others just call it partnership. Mostly I – and I know my predecessors of various political stripes in this portfolio – have found it’s really just about working together to make New Zealand better.

This agreement is just the latest of many examples of partnership.

Co-governance arrangements are a form of partnership with groups of special standing or expertise. They are about governments working together with communities, experts or other partners to provide direction over a sphere of shared interest to achieve better outcomes.

They have taken many forms, and have been used to get the best outcomes for our land, resources and for our communities.

That’s why successive governments have entered into them, and why they have endured.

It’s not a common thing for MPs to give speeches agreeing with those on the other side of politics.

But you might have heard my predecessor, the Hon Christopher Finlayson KC, talk about the important role that co-governance agreements play. He makes the point that government is not the only source of wisdom and knowledge. If we want the best decisions then we need the best possible input, including the longstanding historical links tāngata whenua have with our natural resources.

Let’s look at some of the larger and more well-known examples of the Crown working in collaboration with iwi around New Zealand:

  • Whakaora Te Waihora, first established in 2012, is a voluntary agreement that has evolved over time between local Councils, the Department of Conservation and Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu around Te Waihora, or Lake Ellesmere, which seeks to restore and rejuvenate the mana, mauri and ecosystem health of the lake and its catchment;
  • The Te Urewera Board, which was established in 2014, is the primary decision maker for Te Urewera under legislation. The Board comprises six Tūhoe appointees and three Crown appointees who act as the representative of that legal person and oversee the activities in Te Urewera;
  • The Waikato River Authority, established in 2010, is responsible for implementation of, and changes to, the vision and strategy for the Waikato River. The authority is represented by five Crown members and five iwi members.

Let’s explore that last one, and I’ll cite another former politician from a different political party, Tukoroirangi Morgan. As former Chair of the Waikato River Authority, Tuku said:

“Never in the eight years I was the chair and the Honorable John Luxton was the chair, did we ever have to go to a vote. Where there were differences we talked and talked until we came to a consensus decision. There is nothing about power here. This is about collective decision making and doing what was best for the river, not for our respective selfish motivations.”

That is what these agreements are about. It’s a way to come together for a collective goal.

And in this case, with Taranaki Maunga and this agreement, that’s what we’re doing.

I care about the mountain just as much as anyone who is lucky enough to call Taranaki home.

I’ve walked in the national park. I’ve swam in its rivers. And I’ve traversed its slopes.

I want to protect the view, the walks, the mountain and the park – now, and for future generations.

That’s the same thing Ngā Iwi o Taranaki want too.

It’s something that unites us all.

And so we will walk forward together.

The relationship between the Crown and Māori continues to evolve and strengthen, and this means we’ll continue to be called on to give practical effect to Treaty obligations and shared outcomes that we are seeking to achieve as a nation. It’s how we will continue to strengthen communities through the restoration of rights under the Treaty.

Here in Taranaki, the shared goal is to protect our mountain and to ensure the area and the people who live here thrive. That’s what today’s initialling is all about.

I end with this whakatauki/proverb: Mahia i runga i te ranigmārie me te ngākau māhaki. With a peaceful mind and respectful heart, we will always get the best results.

No reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou. Thank you and good morning.