How does a tribe negotiate a deal under the Treaty of Waitangi when it was never a signatory to that Treaty? The answer, grasshopper, is that this is election year - and in election year, everything is possible!
Admits Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger, who is today about to sign a deal with the government signaling the start of negotiations for 'redress' under the Te Tiriti, the Waitangi process is the only game in town by which to feel the wholesale largesse of the taxpayer -- including, he hopes, a payout for perceived historic injustices, as well as perceived indignities inflected last year during the anti-terrorism raids.
Ironically, the historic 'injustice' and the contemporary indignity have a link -- they were both the result of harbouring a madman.
The historic 'injustice' occurred in the late 1860s-early 1870s when Tuhoe harboured guerrilla 'warrior' Te Kooti. The Kooti One had gone on the run after murdering around sixty Maori and non-Maori in Poverty Bay, and eventually found support for his campaign of murder under the shelter of a supportive Tuhoe. For three years he and his Tuhoe allies waged war from the Ureweras on all around, with the full support and connivance of Tuhoe leaders, regularly crossing the Kaingaroa plains, the Urewera and surrounding districts to pillage, burn and kill. To drive him out of his lair, "Government forces applied a scorched earth policy so that the Tuhoe tribe could not shelter Te Kooti and the dwindling remnants of his band," following which he was driven out, and 448,000 acres of land was confiscated from Tuhoe as punishment, 230,600 acres of which was later returned. (Ironically, as reward for his murder, Te Kooti himself was eventually given several acres of land in Ohiwa, BoP, in 1891.)
So the supposed historic 'injustice' was the product of a tribe unwilling to live under the rule of law who harboured a known killer, and joined him on a campaign of murder. In some circles, mere partial confiscation would be see as being let off easily.
The contemporary 'injustice' for which the Waitangi Tribunal's taxpayer salve is sought is the well-publicised anti-terrorism raids of last year, the result of Tuhoe leaders knowingly permitting Tame Iti to train young thugs and would-be terrorists on their own patch. Once again, the supposed 'injustice,' which in this case involved such heinous actions as searching an empty bus, was brought on by another poor decision to harbour an idiot.
So in neither case can a clear injustice be proven -- quite the contrary in both cases -- and in any case Tuhoe was never a signatory to the Treaty. In the age of hand-wringing and revisionist history however, neither is likely to prove a barrier to today's Tuhoe 'leaders' receiving large amounts of taxpayer largesse as a reward for living in the past -- a past which is largely a fiction of their own making.
* Figures and quotes are taken from the Oxford History of New Zealand, (pgs. 186, 187); Penguin History of New Zealand, (pg. 219); 'Te Kooti,' NZ.History.Net; 'Te Kooti,' An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966.