The relationship must change ‘from the familiar late-twentieth century partnership built on the notion that the perpetrator’s successor must pay the victim’s successor for the original colonial sin, into a twenty-first century relationship of mutual advantage in which, through joint and agreed action, both sides end up better off than they were before they started. This is the Treaty of Waitangi beyond grievance.’
Today marked a significant day in the history of the Waitangi Tribunal and the Maori rights movement. The much-anticipated, and long overdue, release of the Wai 262: Ko Aotearoa Tenei (Indigenous Flora and Fauna and Cultural Intellectual Property) Waitangi Tribunal Report. As the above quote recognises, this Report will be seen as the genesis of the movement away from the grievance-centric Maori rights discussion towards a more future-oriented, partnership model of Pakeha and Maori interaction in New Zealand.
The Report is immense, in breadth and detail so comments and analysis will gradually appear on this site over the next few weeks, alongside what should be many other insightful analysis from Maori around the country. While the Report is no doubt highly significant in its symbolic value, the true measure of this Report will be the Government’s response. Progress will not be made towards any of the goals and aspirations sets out in this Report without the support of Government. In this respect, the cause will have to continue.
My only hope now is that the mainstream media speak to Maori about this report and its implications and our hopes for a better future instead of relying on failed politicians of the 1990s who clearly demonstrate no willingness to engage constructively on these issues. Listening to Radio NZ’s Afternoon Panel on Friday with Dr. Muriel Newman was an utter disgrace. Newman demonstrated absolutely no knowledge of the claim, nor of the nature of the Waitangi Tribunal and the powers that it possesses. Her interview was nothing more than an attempt to spread fear through the Pakeha population that this Report will be the catalyst for the takeover of New Zealand by a Maori Oligarchy. There was no balance in the comments made by Dr. Newman nor did Jim Mora even attempt to challenge her on any of the comments made.
In the spirit of this Report, we expect better. Wai 262 is about Maori rights, Maori knowledge, and Maori property. It is Maori who hold the mana of this Report and we should be allowed to frame the debate in relation to these issues.