Thursday, 29 September 2005

Confiscation alert in Wellington

NEWS STORY, 'The Dominion': Hundreds of Wellington and Hutt Valley properties, including prestigious inner-city ones, have been listed as possible settlement options for one of New Zealand's biggest urban Treaty of Waitangi claims... The properties are all currently or were previously owned by the Crown and are subject to a part of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986 that is known as a Section 27[B] memorial.

Once again today another blogger has both news and commentary that I couldn't really disagree with; Gman deservedly excoriates both the decision and the timing of its announcement: "Gee, they waited until after the election to let this get out didn't they?" You think? And as he says, how bloody treacherous that the National Party-- remember 'One Law for All' -- are singing 'Silent Night' on this one.

Chartwell homeowner John Williams was amazed, however, to hear his property was subject to a Treaty claim. "I don't understand where the claimants are coming from." He said he bought his section in 1982 and had lived there since 1991. He had no plans to sell. "I'm very happy here."

However, it does seem from the report that at least some of the present land-owners have a beef elsewhere than just the usual suspects. The 'Section 27B memorial' was added to Richard Prebble's 1986 'State Owned Enterprises Act' in 1988, at which point all new titles in the area should have included the rider that "in specified circumstances, the Crown may take back or “resume” a property to be used in settling a Treaty claim." If land-owners or their lawyers who arrived after 1988 didn't know about this, then they need to get themselves a better lawyer.

Those who bought before 1988 however, like Mr Williams above, have a beef at a culture and a Government that has neither respect nor understanding for private property rights.


  1. It's a case of one injustice perpectuating another PC - the claims stem from the 1839 guarantee by the New Zealand Company to the Maori land owners of Port Nic (Wellington / Hutt Valley) that they would receive one tenth of the land within the divisions that company had made of land purchased for settlers (Hence the local Maori trust is named the 'Tenths Trust'). That was a condition of sale that was never met - a clear breach of contract. I realise the Libs are going to say that this is simply a case of the common law being run over roughshod by the state, but irrespective of whichever perspective you view the transactions from, the Waitangi process is the means by which Maori have to pursue their claims against the Crown.

    That said, the whole 'Section 27' thing was a bit of a media beat-up by the Dom Post, I doubt that in such a political process the Government would start confiscating private properties to appease Maori, when it would seem that compensation is in order.

  2. The gentleman who had no idea about the "section 27" on his property had no idea because there wasn't one! His property was listed in error.
    There is quite a good history of the Port Nicholson purchase and subsequent treaty breeches and dodgy dealings on the Waitangi Tribunal Website ( )
    After reading this I am very suprised that we Wellingtonians are so ignorant of our capitals murky history. Years of neglecting the issue has made it a pretty complex one to resolve. I am concerned however that most people that are aware of this claim ( and I suspect that there are not many) seem to be of the opinion that monetary compensation is the only option. I realise this might upset some hardline "handout philosophers" but I think we need to take a look with an historical lense at the whole treaty issue and ask ourselves, are we really that different from Australia who basically just want the aboriginal "problem" to go away? Whether it is convenient or not, the English Crown entered into an agreement ( however flawed this may or may not have been and regardless of motives) with the indigenous people of this country. In the case of the Port Nicholson land purchase, there has clearly been thousands of acres that were illegally taken and never agreed to by local iwi. ( see treaty report online) Why do the land claims need to be financial compensation only? Are we afraid of having a Maori landlord? If we are more educated and more realistic about our own past then surely we have a better chance of moving past the racial tensions and accusations that have soured over recent years. We should remember that although these issues are new to many New Zealanders they are not new to Maori who had their land stolen from them. I wonder sometimes if average pakeha is suffering from the same kind of woes as average white South African. We profess to want equality for all New Zealander's as long as the status quo remains. Well its time to accept that the status quo is not equality. This country was founded by people with blood on their hands and no matter how innocent the actual settlers were of the situation when they arrived to make a new life, we,their ancestors are left to try and redress the balance. Pakeha New Zealand has to get over it's fear of Maori regaining some power in this country. The treaty greivances must be dealt with honestly so that for our grandchildren Waitangi Day really is a celebration.
    Pakeha sitting around feeling guilty and apologising for something that some English guy did 150 odd years ago isn't going to solve any problems. But this backlash by white New Zealand and the continual denial that there is anything wrong in this country and that 'the past is the past and Maori should get over it' is really not going to serve our collective interests in the longrun. Sure we didn't spill the milk, but its gonna stink if we leave it there any longer.


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