ngapuhi faction claims extra-sovereign maori capacity


From the NZ Herald:

A Ngapuhi leader is warning that “outsiders” could derail the tribe’s progress to settlement while others accuse the organisation he leads of manipulating the settlement process.

In Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi’s (Traion) annual report chairman Sonny Tau outlines the importance of moving from grievance to development. Delaying Treaty of Waitangi settlement means too many opportunities are being lost, he said.

Traion wants Ngapuhi to start settlement negotiations with the Government, however, complicating matters is that some in the country’s largest iwi – 122,000 strong – want to first go through Waitangi Tribunal hearings to challenge the constitutional basis of the Crown’s sovereignty.

From the Northland Age:

“The major issue being heard lies in the different understandings of the meaning and effect of both these documents, and particularly that hapu chiefs never ceded sovereignty to the Crown.

“This initial hearing will also lay the foundations for the treaty claims that will follow.

“The tribunal’s findings will hopefully provide a foundation of true nationhood built on the real vision of te tiriti signatories,” Mr Tipene added.

The Ngapuhi hapu now sought to challenge the sovereignty that had been assumed by the Crown.

“What they actually signed was very different to that which was translated into English,” he said.

Otiria Marae will host a wananga on Saturday, giving Ngapuhi hapu the opportunity to discuss their understandings of He Whakaputanga (the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, signed in 1835) and te Tiriti o Waitangi.

More importantly, Te Aho claims chairman Pita Tipene said, it would enable the hapu to prepare for the Waitangi Tribunal hearing scheduled to begin at Waitangi on October 28.

Mr Tipene said all New Zealanders knew about the Treaty of Waitangi, but few had knowledge of He Whakaputanga, or that the chiefs had signed the Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi.

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What I have gathered is this: a Northland Maori hapu, the Ngapuhi, are claiming that their own Declaration of Independence from the wider Maori collective – framed in 1835 – effectively removed a good portion of the hapu from the scope of the totalising Treaty of Waitangi that came just a few years later. We should all await the result of this push very eagerly. I suspect that if a Council, courtroom or Tribunal sees specific Maori collectives as distinct and extra-jurisdictional entites, with preserved sovereign entitlements of their own, the implications for other claims across the world are all too clear: we need only think of the Canadian dilemmas of non-status Indians (i.e. those left out of the 1870s treaty process) and, of course, the Metis (‘Nation’ or otherwise), for classic examples.

On the one hand, it is exciting that a little pre- ‘conquest’ political document (whether framed with the help of outsiders or not) has the potential to rattle the foundations of NZ sovereignty. On the other hand, it is a little disappointing that such a written document needs to exist in the first place for natives to advance the claim that their polities were legitimate before the extension of European sovereignty.

EDIT July 2010: I have since learned more, and am now prepared to admit that my presentation here is not entirely correct. See my interview with Josh Hitchcock for a better understanding of what’s actually happening with all of this.

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