Monday, 24 August 2015

Auckland: who else wants to have a go?

For hundreds of years tribes fought and re-fought over Auckland. Everything about Auckland that makes it so valuable today made it a fearful place to be back then when tribalism ruled and enslavement was the reward for a losing battle–and every tribal leader worth his puha had had a go at claiming it.

Just one reason then that the land worth so much now was largely empty when European settlers first arrived: “they saw only a wilderness of scrub, for all the isthmus had been gardens and was in various stages of regeneration."*

The gardens, pas and fishing spots had been abandoned after the most recent invasion, by Nga Puhi in 1818. "During the Ngapuhi wars Tamaki-makau-rau was almost deserted, and remained so until 1835 when Ngati Whatua returned ... In March 1840 three Ngati Whatua chiefs met Governor Hobson and signed the Treaty of Waitangi ... These men saw the colonist as a possible insurance against further raids.”*

In “claiming” all of Auckland, the various descendants of those men are now trying a different kind of raid. One on the taxpayer’s chequebook that was supposed to have ended in 2008.

The Tainui “king,” a monarch dreamed up after Europeans arrived leading a tribe which didn’t even sign the Treaty—“the comical Ngaruawahia ex-truck driver who can't speak Maori and struggles with English but calls himself King of Maoridom despite his realm ending at his letterbox”—is nonetheless claiming rights under it now they didn’t have then.

Not so fast, says a descendant of the Nga Puhi raiders who had depopulated Auckland, whose own plans are already “well under way” to make a “claim” for tribal riches over the same much-fought-over place.

But what about us? whimper the alleged incumbents, hoping for their own financial reward from the long-suffering taxpayer.

This is what happens when separatist-pandering delivers a blank cheque to tribalists who can dream up alleged wrongs: ongoing payments and the perpetuation of ever-more ludicrous fantasies. Fantasies given ongoing hope by the perpetually-open chequebook of Treaty Capitulations Minister Chris Whinlayson, who it’s reported has already agreed to hear the alleged king's fatuous claims.

This will not end cheaply. I you think it will, or you think any of the claims settled in the last decades or being talked up now will ever be “full and final,” then I have a city strung between two harbours that I can sell you.

* Maori Auckland, David Simmons, Bush Press, 1987

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