Jan 31, 2012

Iwi hypocrisy

I don’t often agree with Cactus Kate, but – surprisingly – I think she is right to take Ngai Tahu to task for selling off their land.

Ngai Tgahu know all about asset sales so should be supporting National's privatisation programme. Here are just two recent examples of Maori more than happy to flog off their assets to foreigners who need OIO approvals.

In 2010 they sold 1348 hectares in Kaikoura to an American couple for 7.5 million dollars. They paid 8 million dollars so made a $500,000 loss.

In 2011 they sold 18,000 hectares of forest to a Swiss owned family company for 22.9 million dollars. And continue to manage it. Alf Grumble reported it at the time on his blog noting the hypocrisy and lies of Tuku Morgan in relation to asset sales. Ngai Tahu sold this land under the euphemism of a "change in investment strategy". National are having that same change in investment strategy selling stakes in SOE's.

“Iwi won’t sell and the investment is intergenerational,” Morgan says.

Iwi shouldn’t be flogging off their land. It runs counter to Maori values. Ngai Tahu tipuna spent generations fighting for the return of their land. And for what? For iwi corporates to sell it off in the name of “investment strategy”. The whenua is, in Te Ao Maori, inalienable. Why don’t our so called leaders know this?

When you sell the land you also sell your rangatiratanga. Therefore, you sell your right to a place.

But most importantly, Ngai Tahu is undermining Maori in the eyes of the public. On the one hand, we talk about the land as sacred, inalienable and so on. While on the other hand we slyly flog it off for a handful of cash. Those aren’t my values and those aren’t Maori values.


  1. Would be more persuasive with more research. Has their net acreage decreased, did they purchase other land that year, where did the money go (resources or expenses). Taken out of context it's easy to throw stones, but you need to give mor facts and context to really make the point.

  2. Kia ora anon,

    That's a fair point, but it misses the overall thrust of the post. It doesn't matter whether or not new land was purchased and net acreage decreased, increased or remained the same. It is a slap in the face to Ngai Tahu tipuna who fought for generations for the return of Ngai Tahu lands. The return wasn't so much about establishing an economic base, it was about re-establishing Maori rangatiratanga, restoring our mana and so on. Ngai Tahu is playing fast and loose with their land, which is their prerogative of course, but it means losing sight of what their tipuna stood for. Perhaps Ngai Tahu is adapting to 21st century conditions - it's an open debate. However, in the end I subscribe to the view that Maori land is and should be inalienable. We can do as we like with our land, but we cannot sell it off because it belongs to our tipuna and our mokopuna.

  3. Well noted Morgan. I am all too well aquainted with the Ngai Tahu corporate iwi's land sales program - which I have spent over half of my life opposing, along with whanau, hapu and two top Ngai Tahu women MPs - the late Hon Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan MP Southern Maori, and Hon Sandra Te Hakamatua Lee MP Auckland Central.
    O'Regan has long run the argument that we need to sell, sell, sell certain of our land assets in order to develop other lands etc. In reality his land sale agenda began with the Mawhera Incorporation - of which I am a shareholder back in the 1980s. Post settlement this line continued to be espoused by O'Regan and accountant Syd Ashton - and if you look into the detail - you can see the profit the Ngai Tahu Holding Co has made has been through the sale of land - and boy I mean lots of it - gained from the Govt at GV and onsold at a profit.
    I weep, as do my illustrious Ngai Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Waitaha tipuna who fought for the land over generations, and in great hardship. Shame on O'Regan, Ashton and the others. I watch the Hanover directorship debacle in the courts with glee. Iri Sinclair BA LLB

  4. I oppose any selling of the land by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the justifications used are disingenuous. I believe that many other iwi members also oppose this. I also cannot see how this selling of small, medium or large packages of tribal land aligns with Te Kerēme.

    And the same goes for exploitation of Papatūānuku within the rohe through mining and drilling for oil or gas.

  5. Hi guys, this is a great issue to focus on and it should be debated, regularly, with vigour, and especially within each iwi's respective tent.

    There's a real risk in making this a one dimensional argument though, as 'Anonymous' rightly notes earlier in this feed, as though any and every single transaction is demonstrably either right or wrong. Life just ain't like that.

    The Kaikōura example illustrates this perfectly. The land in question was purchased from private owners post settlement with tribal collective funds because it contained an historical pā site and associated urupā. The iwi collective purchased the farm on the open market, carved off the traditionally important lands, transferred the title of those back to the Kaikoura Rūnanga (i.e. the local people, not the bad guys at Iwi Corporate Control), negotiated various access and indigenous re-afforestation programmes with the subsequent purchaser and then sold the remainder of the lands at a capital loss. Thus making the residual finds available for further such initiatives.

    This is what is possible when a tribal, or any other, group has financial capital at its disposal. Piece by small piece lands of real value can be reclaimed and returned to the ownership and care of those who share that whakapapa.

    Are people seriously arguing that Māori collectives shouldn't engage in financial activity, including participating in the property market, meaning that reacquisitions like the Kaikōura purchase could never be achieved?

    Are we really suggesting it would have been better and truer to tikanga and less hypocritical to leave the old pā site and urupā in private hands, unprotected and subject to damage through continued grazing and development?


    All of these decisions are judgement calls. They are all imperfect. They contain numerous trade-offs. You win something and you pay a price on the way through that you might have preferred not to pay. Leaders and decision-makers have the burden of having to make these calls, and are condemned to live with the consequences.

    I'm not interested in being an apologist for these iwi/tribal/Māori/whānau collectives. They make some inspired calls and they're equally capable of making mistakes.

    I also understand and have considerable sympathy for the many critics of decisions taken in this space. The scrutiny and tension around these fundamental discussions must be maintained.

    Most importantly, those whose rights and multiple interests are at stake must do their utmost to be convinced that there is a clear, credible and compelling strategy in place to guide these one-off transactions over the long term. And they have to ensure that people can be, and actually are, held accountable for their decisions in the context of those commitments.

    Let's keep it real. Entire tribal estates were lost in a single generation and the former owners were reduced to mere observers on the sidelines for the following six generations. We're now one half of one generation into a new world where, with the benefit of parsimonious settlement redress funds, iwi are clawing their way back into the game. And with some considerable effect. Let's be clear though that it is going to be a long long inter-generational haul to re-establish our collective institutions, daresay the shadow of what has been lost.

    Yes, we must debate how to reconcile traditional concepts with the inconvenient realities of the contemporary context.

    Yes, we must be ever vigilant of the incentives and motivations of those that work for our collectives and make decisions on our behalf.

    Yes, we must re-establish genuine community ownership and control over the directions and terms of our collective journey forwards.

    But meaningful progress will never be achieved if we continually reduce ourselves to giving effect to bumper sticker positions on complex issues. The times and the challenge ahead require a genuine sophistication that i believe we are rediscovering.

    That should be celebrated.

  6. Kia ora Anake,

    Thanks for shedding some much needed light on this. It seems things are not as straight forward as initially thought. In light of this, it appears Ngai Tahu's position is justified. In purchasing the land to regain possession of the old pa site and urupa Ngai Tahu did the right thing.

    I still disagree with selling the entire block, but meh.

  7. One more thing everyone forgets, our people need to be housed once you sell the property, we have to pay rent to live on our own bloody land, the rent does not come back to the whanau, its goes to the new land owners, so the Iwi have lost twice!

  8. I dunno Anake it seems a very slippery slope to me but it is good to hear the official background to the decisions made and your knowledgeable opinions.

  9. Kia ora koutou,
    The sale of ancestral Maori land has long been opposed by my whanau, hapu and some real iwi leaders in the Ngai Tahu post-settlement (by Ngai Tahu Ppty Ltd) and pre-settlement (eg Mawhera Incorporation)era's. All of those of us who made ancillary claims for the return of specific lands did so for the simple reason that lands were taken by the Crown for certain purposes and held and not returned etc in breacy of the Treaty. Those of us who have Maori reserve land interests across our motu, belonging to us as individuals or whanau trusts etc continue to maintain our ownership and management of our ancestral lands.We do not sell!
    The Kaikoura example cited by you Anake is the exception rather than the rule. The sale of over 14,000 hectares of former state forest land between the Waimakariri and Hurunui Rivers last year, marketed globally via an agent in Switzerland is a more meaningful example of what has really been going on.
    The fact remains that profits made by the Ngai Tahu corporate iwi derived in the main from land sales - whereby Ngai Tahu Ppty onsold land regained from the Crown at GV using settlement monies, at a profit to foreign owners, or developers. More recently investment has become more diversified - eg tourism beyond Whalewatch, fish etc.
    I think of illustrious tipuna like Matiaha Tiramorehu and Te Maiharoa, Horomona Pohio and other great leaders from our past who at great physical and emotional cost sacrificed a great deal to fight the Crown for our whenua in the 19th century. They would not agree to the sale of much of land returned as a result of our Treaty settlement being on sold to others,after generations of effort on the claim.
    I'm also sure they would not consider the miserly kaumatua grants of less than $200 annually the tika way to care for our surviving old people in a post-settlement world.
    Be real Anake - you have been an apologist for the corporate iwi for as long as it has existed - even beforehand - B-Team wasn't it? Worked for 'Aoraki Consultants' etc, and have received excessive remuneration while working for TRONT etc. Now I see you have joined Jenny Shipley on CERA - no surprises there.
    Not one more acre - that was the cry of the Maori Land March in 1975 - I was there with my whanau. No bumper stickers - no bumpers - no cars - just a massive hikoi from the far north to Parliament - which set in motion the so-called Maori renaissance, but importantly inspired Mat Rata and the Labour Govt to estb the Waitangi Tribunal. Thank God.
    The land sales programme in the name of Ngai Tahu continues to make a mockery of the whakatauki from the old Ngai Tahu Trust Board days - 'Mo tatau, a, mo ka uri a muri ake nei - for us & our children after us'.
    It comes down to tino rangatiratanga and also impacts on NZ sovereignty when vast tracts of our whenua are sold off.
    Iri Sinclair



1. Anonymous comments will be rejected. Please use your real name or a pseudonym/moniker/etc...
2. No personal abuse. Defamatory comments will be rejected.
3. I'll reject any comment that isn't in good taste.