story begins with the Taranaki land confiscations of last century which
decimated indigenous governance structures of that era.
It centres on two Maori organisations which evolved out of that struggle
and their efforts to adapt and cope in today’ s reality.
first is Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation (PKW).
The second is Te Atiawa Iwi Authority (TAIA).
confiscation, the Crown set aside native reserves and returned this land to
Maori ownership under individualised land title. Maori thus became private land owners as opposed to communal
and individualised titles left hapu landless. Private ownership versus communal
occupation is still a very contentious issue in Taranaki and the subject of
ongoing litigation in the Maori Land Court.
the 1880's to the 1970s control of the Taranaki reserves lay exclusively with
the Crown. Land was perpetually
leased to Pakeha farmers at 5% of the unimproved value with rent reviews every
21 years. Even though Maori had land title they were still effectively landless.
the mid 1970's the landowners finally gained administration rights to their
lands, albeit under the same leasing arrangements as before.
Landowners again but still effectively landless.
ki Waitotara Incorporation (PKW)
was incorporated in 1976 and administers 23,000 hectares of prime dairy farmland
on behalf of 7,000 shareholders. Since
the 1970'S PKW has developed its assets and in conjunction with other Maori
reserve land owners, lobbied for change to the legislation governing their
1997 the Maori Reserve Land Amendment Act was passed which paved the way for a
move to market rents, rent reviews every 7 years, a sunset clause on perpetual
leasing and the promise of compensation for
past rent losses. We still await
the fulfilment of this compensation promise.
economic terms PKW may be described as moderately successful. It has an annual
income of $3.2 million, half of which comes from land rents. The other half from
commercial buildings and other diversified interests.
for the future include buying out lessees improvements on PKW land and
amalgamating these interests into large scale corporate type dairy farms. At a
cost of $250 million it is by necessity a long term plan.
greatest challenge facing PKW is the resolution of differences between landless
hapu and private landowning PKW. This may become possible through joint ventures
when hapu receive compensation from confiscated land claim settlements currently
being negotiated with the Crown.
Atiawa Iwi Authority (TAIA)
organisation was formed in 1996 to negotiate a settlement with the Crown
concerning the confiscated land of Te Atiawa.
the outset the Crown determined the rules of engagement and decided it would
only negotiate an iwi-wide settlement. This single decision has caused more
internal strife in Te Atiawa than any other issue in the past hundred years.
to the settlement process is the question of who holds the mandate, (the mana of
the people) to direct these negotiations. Hapu
say it rests with them. The iwi
authority point to the Crown’s recognition of their organisation and says it
rests with them.
could be said that this is nothing more than petty mana munching and everyone
should get on with the job of negotiation for the long term benefit of Te
the question of mana lies at the heart of indigenous governance, it is the
cornerstone of rangatiratanga and the basis of centuries of Maori development.
the 24th of July 1999 the largest Te Atiawa hui this century was held
in New Plymouth. A significant
number of motions were proposed, spoken to and voted on and it became evident
that TAIA did not have the support of those it claimed to represent.
compound matters further the TAIA executive, in front of the hui, overturned all
decisions made by the hui. Despite these obvious governance flaws the Crown
continues to negotiate with TAIA prompting opposing litigation in the High
PKW and TAIA are products of this countrys’ wayward past. Conceived through
rape on the battlefields of Taranaki they are illegitimate offspring from a
misfit liaison between Maori and the Crown. As organisation they are neither
wholly Maori nor truly Pakeha and therein lies the dilemma.
suffer from legislative abuse, policy neglect and constitutional asphyxiation
and both find themselves subject to litigation of the stakeholder kind.
That’s the kind where the jokers holding the stakes are trying to
litigate them upon the jokers holding the putea.
irony of all this litigation is that we are using the courts, a non- indigenous
governance instrument, to sort out problems caused by the Crown, the
non-indigenous governance structure.
need a better way.