Feb 13, 2013

What post-settlement iwi should look like

Via the Herald:

Tuku Morgan says a plan to scrap Waikato-Tainui's tribal parliament and its executive board has to pass through the institutions that he wants put to bed.

The tribe's 198-member parliament represents 66 marae. Every three years the parliament elects 10 members to its executive board, Te Arataura, with one appointed by King Tuheitia. Mr Morgan was appointed as the king's representative in December.

"Change has to happen and change is inevitable," Mr Morgan said.

This is one of the most significant post-settlement issues – what does an ideal iwi structure look like? Bell Gully lists three fundamental criteria:

  • a structure where the individual iwi members have ultimate control; 
  • the legal capacity and powers of the structure are certain; and 
  • ownership and management functions are kept separate, as are commercial and non-commercial objectives. 

In Tainui, iwi members exercise indirect control. Iwi members don’t enjoy an individual vote, but their vote is part of a collective vote – the Marae vote. It isn’t a purely democratic model rather it awards iwi members that are intimately connected with their Marae. Iwi members that are disconnected from their Marae are, in practice, disenfranchised and disconnected from tribal politics. As a result, representatives in Te Kauhanganui (TK) and appointees to Te Arataura are not accountable to iwi members at large. Instead representatives and appointees owe their patronage to individual Marae or the Kingitanga. The consequence: gridlock. The better system would involve a postal ballot of all iwi members under an at-large system. That way, representatives are accountable to and represent iwi interests – not the interests of a single Marae, the Kingitanga or a political faction. Iwi members could punish political gridlock. At the moment, political gridlock can be awarded if it serves the interests of the sponsoring entity (e.g. the Kingitanga).

On the second count, Tainui structures fail miserably. The rules regulating tribal affairs are unnecessarily complex. Opposing factions have tested the rules in High Court on several occasions in the past two years. From the beginning of the 2010 financial year through to 2012 Chapman Tripp collected over $1m in legal fees and Bell Gully collected almost $300,000. Over four other firms cashed in as well. Yeah, less than ideal. The government could and should step in here. Better legislation is required for post-settlement structures. It is unsuitable, in my opinion, for TK to operate under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. Legislation grounded in tikanga Maori would seem more appropriate - including a provision providing for Maori dispute resolution.

The third point is satisfied. However, a fourth point is missing. Iwi structures should be run according to Maori values. Wealth creation and distribution should be at the centre of iwi structures, but that should be subject to:

· Kaitiakitanga – in other words sustainable investment.

· Manaakitanga – meaning ethical investment.

· Whakapapa – investment should, where possible, be made within the iwi and the benefits distributed within the iwi. This could mean that a primary focus of iwi is job creation within their rohe.

· Mauri – efforts are made to preserve iwi anchors – for example their respective reo, tikanga, kawa and so on.

This is a rough outline, of course, but I think it is a useful guide to how iwi structures should operate. Debates around representation, legal certainty and management practice are occurring across the motu (the country). Waikato-Tainui are having their debate in the most public fashion, but that doesn’t mean the issue is confined. Karla Akuhata is highlighting similar issues in Ngati Awa. This is a debate that must be had. After all, if we aren't seeing any benefits post-settlement, then what was the point?

PostScript: Last November I analysed the proposal to award Kingi Tuheitia the power to dissolve TK. This might be of interest to those interested in this issue. The Te Kauhanganui tag also has a number of similar posts.  


  1. Great discussion Morgan. I disagree that the Marae-based seats are the problem though. A bigger problem is that there are just too many reps in Te Kauhanganui. I doubt that many ever say anything, or that the debate is truly a discussion amongst people that listen and modify their views. It gives the appearance of Marae based decision making, but without true debate and discussion, it's ripe for manipulation. Maybe there should be only 1rep per Marae, or perhaps have regional representation?

    1. That's one solution, yeah. Three seats p/Marae is well over the top and not conducive to quality debate (like you said). I wouldn't be in favour of regional representation - it's too difficult to group together the communities of interest. For example, the Kawhia harbour region might be made into one region with one seat. However, the region isn't homogenous - there are different interests at play, some different whakapapa considerations and so on. Marae representation is still favourable (imo) or an at-large system with no consideration for Marae.

  2. Agree with first commentator re the great discussion bit. It's not just Tainui. Even Ngai Tahu has indirect representation. Each papatipu elects a committee who then decides the representative to Te Runanga. Many of the papatipu jealously guard the right to vote and are quick to exclude on grounds such as 'you don't live here' (as if thousands of eligible Ngai Tahu would want to live in Oraka Aparima (Colac Bay) or Makawhio (Bruce Bay) on the west coast). There is a huge tension between marae based whanau (hau kainga) and the broader population of eligible Maori who for many reasons have to live away from their marae bases. Why should they be excluded or have their intentions 'represented' for them? The settlements are for ALL descendants and not just those lucky enough to have the means to live within their marae rohe so therefore the vote should be for all and direct.

    And just lastly, my experience of 'tikanga' is that it is whatever the loudest and most aggresive person(s) on the marae say it is. I'm often amazed at just how flexible tikanga is in representing whatever you want it to represent. Sometimes the Pakeha just do have better ways of doing things. For settlements I say; legal structures = yes, 'tikanga' structures = a big fat no!

    1. Those are very good points. I've seen it happen in my experience (though only with rather trivial matters). Decisions are made by the Marae hierarchy and, if and when it suits, others can be excluded on make-believe grounds. I'm not sure that it's widespread. It probably depends on the temperament of the individuals and the political culture of the Marae and hapu.

  3. The Law Commission once tried to develop a generic governance model for iwi, but it didn't get off the ground - it's a complicated area, and each iwi has different issues and tikanga. Governance models have moved on since Waikato Tainui and Ngai Tahu - the CFRT did a book on it a while back.

    1. Much of what is on the site critical of Ngati Awa is very typical of someone who knows very little about Ngati Awa. Sounds also like someone who has not been around very long and who has had little to do with iwi and hapu. Back to when we had nothing. When everything was voluntary. Back to when we had no wananga, no radio, no settlement, no NASH. You see, what you don't seem to acknowledge is that through all of these entities Ngati Awa now employs more people than the mill at Kawerau. Most in the wananga and NASH, many but not all are Ngati Awa. I challenge you to find any iwi with our sized settlement who employs more than Ngati Awa does. Let me tell you now they do not exist. Tuhoe settlement will be three times ours, do you really think even for them they can make the slightest dent into their unemployment?

  4. Regarding Ngati Awa, Morgan you don't know what you're talking about. When was the last time you were involved directly in iwi and hapu affairs including the drudgery of attending monthly hui, fundraising, working bees and the like? Too many armchair whakaputa mohio happy to criticise from the sidelines but when it's time to contribute your skills and expertise, aue ra, kei hea koe e hika? Too busy? Well we're all busy e hoa. Put your money where your mouth is and work with hapu. Change your delegate and put people in who can do the job. It is also a fantasy to believe Treaty settlements will help or solve Maori unemployment. They are structurally incapable of so doing and it's not their function. Please, they are a joke in themselves the value. Do you think the great Ngai Tahu with all of their wealth have made the slightest measurable difference to Ngai Tahu unemployed? You must be joking? They are a pittance the settlements. Nor can they and nor should they.

    And what jobs would they be? For the favoured few in the know at the top? What about forestry where many of our people are employed in low paying jobs that are as safe as the mill at Kawerau? Oops that's right, a massive billion dollar corporation is laying our people off. I mean come on, if they have to cut down do you really think iwi with their tiny little settlements can do anything meaningful? You must be joking. or retail, same again. Gee that'll get us out of the dole (sic) drums. Or some hair-brained work scheme like WINZ and the old NZES and ETSA used to fund that led to nowhere? Ngati Awa Runanga was totally overstaffed and they were totally overpaid from the top down. I know because I used to go there all the time and see them and attend iwi and hapu hui, do you? They went from 6 staff under Joe Mason to 18+ under Jeremy. The wages bill - not counting consultants - was well over $1 million. Then consultants took out another $500-900K depending on the year. People THAT's where our money was going each year. This was each year EVERY YEAR. At least the idiotic McBurnie and Gone net were one off disasters, most of the detail of which the Runanga members were kept in the dark, especially Gone-net. And yes I think other comments are quite right. Our assets have gone from about $60 to $110 million, not too bad in the post GFC world when you think of how many others fell over during this period. Don't get me wrong I think the losses were outrageous and the directors should have offered their resignations. I understand Wira has and more than once. But getting back to the wages rort in our annual accounts paying a lot of people we did not need was pretty stupid. Look I am sure they enjoyed the money but we didn't need so many staff and we still don't. Most of them did very little to add value to the hapu. Our hapu told him to give the money out to the hapu and close the Runanga down to a core of 6 or less. I hope Enid does.

    We live in the real world not some utopian dream of settlements solving all of our problems. They can't and never will unless we get back 50c in every dollar of assets stolen over the last two centuries. And in no way can you compare the circus that Waikato governance and mismanagement have become to Ngati Awa.

  5. In Tainui, iwi members exercise indirect control. Iwi members don’t enjoy an individual vote structured settlement



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