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Maori and Parliament: Diverse Strategies and Compromises

Maori and Parliament: Diverse Strategies and Compromises

Автором Huia Publishers

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Maori and Parliament: Diverse Strategies and Compromises

Автором Huia Publishers

343 pages
3 hours
Nov 6, 2015


Maori and Parliament provides a comprehensive and enlightening context for understanding both the historical and contemporary relationship between Maori and Parliament and highlights many of the issues which would arise in any discussion of New Zealand constitutional reform. Maori and Parliament is a collection of nineteen presentations and papers from twenty-one academics, political commentators and current and former parliamentarians and is the result of the Maori and Parliament conference held at Parliament in May 2009. Contributors include Georgina Beyer, Hon. Simon Bridges, Damian Edwards, Te Ururoa Flavell, Dr Janine Hayward, Colin James, Shane Jones, Basil Keane, Hon. Sir Douglas Kidd, Professor Steven Levine, Sir Ngatata Love, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, Sir Tipene O’Regan, Professor Nigel Roberts, Prof. Ann Sullivan, Metiria Turei, Hon. Tariana Turia, Dr Charlotte Williams, Dr John Wilson, Prof. Whatarangi Winiata and Dr Maria Bargh.
Nov 6, 2015

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Maori and Parliament - Huia Publishers



When the Māori Party first entered Parliament in 2005, there was discussion about establishing a Māori caucus within Parliament that would bridge party lines. This aim, of fostering unity in the face of the divisions and conflicting loyalties that weigh on Māori politicians, is a recurring feature in the history of Māori and Parliament. Through the years, and as evidenced in the papers of this book, the tension between unity and separate paths has been a common theme and dilemma for Māori engaged in parliamentary activities. The diversity of strategies of Māori politicians has given rise to an equally diverse range of compromises.

There has never been a singular strategy for all Māori MPs. As a result, the views expressed in this book do not present a coherent or settled account of Māori and Parliament. There is no agreed account. Instead, there is much debate, tension and often humour from across the political spectrum about these issues. In some ways the idea of a Māori caucus that would cross party lines and the fact that it has not come to fruition are representative of this diversity.

New Zealand is at a watershed in its constitutional and political arrangements. Seldom before have Māori held as prominent a position as they do in the current Parliament. There are three events looming in the short term which suggest that the status of Māori in Parliament is in for significant challenge and potentially change. The first is the impending review of constitutional issues and the Māori seats as part of the National Party–Māori Party ‘Relationship and Confidence and Supply Agreement’.¹ This may simply reaffirm the status quo and fulfill an election agreement, but could also bring about further pressure for the entrenchment of the Māori seats. The proposed referendum on the future of the mixed member proportional system (MMP) could also have significant implications for Māori given the recent past, which has truly seen MMP produce ‘More Māori in Parliament’. Finally, the longer term question of whether New Zealand should become a republic continues to haunt New Zealand’s political imagination, and would also necessitate lengthy debates about the place of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements in relation to Māori rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The New Zealand Parliament has been a focus for Māori since its establishment in 1854. For many Māori, Parliament represents part of the apparatus that has overridden, marginalised or destroyed the governing and legal structures that existed prior to 1854, and indeed prior to 1840, when Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed. New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements have long been seen by Māori as inadequate in terms of supporting the reaffirmations made about hapū and iwi tino rangatiratanga in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Māori have attempted to alter Parliament, from within and beyond its doors. Many of the contributors to this book (Te Ururoa Flavell, Doug Kidd, Whatarangi Winiata, Metiria Turei) talk about the tactics – conspicuous and inconspicuous, short-term and long-term – that they have used to alter various aspects of parliamentary life and structures for the benefit of Māori.

The Māori Party is playing a unique role in current attempts to alter Parliament and to exploit the opportunities Parliament may present for Māori tino rangatiratanga aspirations. A dedicated ‘Māori party’ has not existed in Parliament before with quite the same leverage and perspective as the Māori Party. New Zealand First, after 1996, is perhaps representative, but there is debate over the extent to which it labels itself a ‘Māori party’. Other Māori parties, such as Mana Māori Motuhake (established in 1979), Mana Māori (established in 1991) and Mana Wahine te Ira Tangata (established in 1998), never gained the same power, and since the 1800s Māori members have not united under one independent political party banner.²

Other contributors to this book (Basil Keane and Maria Bargh) discuss ways in which Māori have attempted to alter Parliament from beyond its walls, including through the establishment of Māori parliaments. The Kotahitanga/Māori Parliaments or Pāremata Māori tried to encourage power sharing, as have, arguably, many types of Māori groups, such as the Kingitanga and the Māori Congress – each presenting the Crown with options for constitutional change involving acknowledgment of Te Tiriti o Waitangi or tino rangatiratanga of hapū and iwi.

Forces continue to exist in Parliament that constrain the influence Māori might have. A number of the contributors to this book (Georgina Beyer, Nanaia Mahuta and Shane Jones) discuss these constraints in light of how they have affected the kinds of compromises they have had to make individually, and the impact not compromising has had on their careers. Although perhaps the most vividly remembered, Don Brash was not the first or last politician to callously inflame racial tension against Māori. Māori MPs (and the broader Māori public) are always in a vulnerable position, exposed to attack at a whim or for political expediency.

This book is the result of the Māori and Parliament conference held at Parliament in May 2009. The conference was part of a series that has been the work of the Department of Politics and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies and the Association of Former Parliamentarians. Professor Margaret Clark, who has been at the forefront of organising the conferences, has edited seven books that have resulted from the previous conferences. Each conference has been recorded and sound records lodged with the National Library, so that the resulting accounts of parliamentary life and the recollections of specific MPs, which might not otherwise be recorded, are not lost.

The chapters contained in this book vary in style – some were written as speeches and others as written papers. They also differ in that they present views from a range of sources: academics, political commentators, parliamentarians and former parliamentarians.

The title of the book is ‘Māori and Parliament’, rather than ‘Māori in Parliament’, because of the many contextual issues which pertain to the interaction of Māori with Parliament.

This is a neglected topic. Māori have had long connections with Parliament and have played influential roles in the shaping of political and economic life in Aotearoa that many scholars and New Zealanders are unaware of. New Zealand’s political arrangements make a book of this kind only possible here. No other country in the world has specific Indigenous representation, in their national parliament, in the way that this country does. In few other countries internationally do Indigenous peoples hold roles as significant as those of several Māori parliamentarians currently. However, few books have considered these issues in a sustained way, and certainly none have yet addressed this unique historical moment for Māori and non-Māori.

Many people have supported the creation of this book, and there are a number in particular who I would like to mention.

I would like to pay special tribute to Professor Margaret Clark for her many years of bringing the accounts of parliamentarians on to the public record through these regular conferences. Professor Clark usually edits the books from these conferences, but this time has graciously encouraged me to take up the project. This has presented me with an exciting opportunity. A huge thank you to Professor Clark for her guidance in matters academic and political.

Thank you to Professor Lydia Wevers of the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, who has been another co-organiser of these conferences and provided invaluable advice and insight for this book. Her apple and walnut cake has also helped to support the completion of editing.

Thank you also to Dr Louise Grenside at the Stout Centre for her part in organising the conference, and whose cheerfulness made administrative matters a breeze.

Tribute must also be paid to the participants of the Māori and Parliament conference for such stimulating papers, anecdotes and discussion, and for their often frank admissions about the struggles of life in Parliament.

Christina Kiritina Marie Gonzalez and Katrina Tamaira worked quickly and efficiently transcribing speeches from the conference – kei te mihi.

Professor Piri Sciascia he mihi nui ki a koe mō tō tuwhera o te hui me tō tautoko. He mihi hoki ki ngā Pūkenga o Te Kawa a Māui mō ngā tautoko me Paul Meredith mō ngā pikitia nō te Paremata Māori. Thank you to Professor Piri Sciascia for opening the conference and for supporting the publication of this book. Thank you to my colleagues in Te Kawa a Māui and at Victoria University for their encouragement.

For financial assistance for the book, a big thank you to Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and Victoria University of Wellington.

And finally, but certainly not least, to my whānau and friends for ongoing support from near and far, he mihi aroha.


¹ National Party–Māori Party Relationship and Confidence and Supply Agreement, on National Party website: http://www.national.org.nz/files/agreements/National-Māori_Party_agreement.pdf (accessed on 26 October 2009).

² The ‘Young Māori Party’ was not a political party in the sense of the Labour or National Party.

Māori and Parliament: the Wider Context


Basil Keane

The Kotahitanga or pan-tribal movements within Māori society, as Lindsay Cox has shown, have been ongoing since the early 1800s. Researching the Kotahitanga is a little like walking in half-way through a conversation.

It is a little artificial to say that the Māori Parliament started here or over there, because it is a continuous thread. But, artificial or not, the nature of history is that we need a beginning. And for me, that beginning is a simple one-page invitation sent to Māori and European leaders in 1888. The invitation was to the twin parliaments of the North: the Ngā Puhi Parliament to be held on 13 March at Waitangi and the Ngāti Whātua Parliament to be held at Ōrākei on 25 March. This joint invitation was issued by rangatira, including Hirini Taiwhanga of Ngā Puhi and Paora Tūhaere of Ngāti Whātua.

But why had these twin parliaments, which had been running for so many years, unofficially come together? The main reason was a document that was signed and known as the Kirihipi, which actually, literally means ‘sheepskin’, referring to its snatches of parchment. It represented a unification of Māori, and said: ‘This entrenches and makes permanent the Kotahitanga of the iwi and their chiefs of this country of Aotearoa called New Zealand’. The union between the Ngā Puhi and Ōrākei Parliaments received the signatures of over 500 rangatira: it parallels with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in the number of rangatira who signed. This Kirihipi became a founding document within the Kotahitanga Parliament. So these two meetings were the start of the Kotahitanga movement that established the Kotahitanga or Māori Parliament that opened in 1892. Additionally, the Kirihipi continued to be signed after these two meetings. It had been taken around New Zealand since the end of the 1889 meetings by Pene Taui of Ngā Puhi and Hapapuku Moetara of Te Roroa and Ngā Puhi. By the time of the 1892 meeting, they had already gathered 20,934 signatures. By the late 1890s, that document had received 38,000 signatures. That is 38,000 signatures from within a population of 45,000 Māori. To put that into context, the same support from Māori today would see the deed receiving over half a million signatures.

There were a number of important meetings after 1889. However, the first formally reported one was held in April 1892 at Waitangi. It has been described as an informal session of the Kotahitanga Parliament. However, I describe it as the constitutional session. It was here that the underlying constitution of the Kotahitanga Parliament was finalised. One of its foundations, as mentioned, was the Kirihipi. This statement of union signified the underlying support for the Parliament by Māori. There were a number of other foundations. The Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, the 1835 Declaration of Independence, sometimes referred to by Kotahitanga members as the 1835 Treaty, provided for rangatiratanga or independence. The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi provided for rangatiratanga and all independence to be reserved, including, importantly, the control and possession by Māori of Māori land. In addition, section 71 of the 1852 Constitution Act was relied upon to provide justification for the Parliament. It provided for the establishment of native districts where Māori custom could still operate. And finally, the national Kohimarama hui called by Governor Browne in 1860 was seen as a fulfilment of the Declaration of Independence where it was agreed that a Māori Parliament would be held annually. It was in this April 1892 meeting at Waitangi that the practicalities of the Parliament were worked out. The boundaries of districts for elections were finalised. The electoral districts were based on tribal boundaries. The Parliament was to have a total of ninety-six members, with fifty to be selected out of this number for an upper house. Additionally, the boundaries for the eight Deeds of the Kirihipi were worked out, to make it easier to take the deed of union around to be signed.

Following this, the first elections – national elections – for the Kotahitanga Parliament were held. The elected members then attended the June 1892 meeting at Waipatu in the Hawke’s Bay. When it was open, it was divided into two houses: Te Whare o Raro, the Lower House, and Te Whare Ariki, the House of Chiefs or Upper House. The Upper House consisted of fifty members, selected out of the ninety-six elected members. The first elected pirimia or premier was Hamiora Mangakahia. H T Whatahoro was the chairman, and Henare Tomoana was the speaker. There were three ministers: Raniera Te Wharerau, Mitai Titore and Timoti Te Whiu. The Māori Parliament followed similar parliamentary procedure to the New Zealand Parliament: a Bill would be voted on in the Lower House and then go on into the Upper House. On at least one occasion, the Upper House struck out Bill provisions that had been inserted in the Lower House.

The Kotahitanga also realised the importance of media. At this time, media of course were newspapers. The first official newspaper of the Kotahitanga was Huia Tangata Kotahi, meaning ‘Unite the People’. It was edited by Ihaia Hutana of Ngāti Kahungunu, and its first issue was February 1893. Its subscription base was rangatira from iwi all over the country. While this newspaper stopped in 1895, another official newspaper was to launch in 1897. Te Puke Ki Hikurangi was edited by Purakau Maaka but funded by Tamahau Mahupuku from Wairarapa. The Kīngitanga also had its own newspaper, Te Paki o Matariki.

A key theme of the Kotahitanga Parliament, which is obvious in a sense because the root of Kotahitanga is ‘kotahi’ or ‘one’ – the idea of unity – was the unification of the tribes. In 1893, a strong attempt to unify the significant groups outstanding from the Kotahitanga was made. Henare Tomoana, who was a former member of the New Zealand Parliament, was appointed the Kotahitanga’s travelling ambassador. Tomoana first visited Te Whiti, and when he arrived, Te Whiti said: ‘there is no one here to call you, just Taranaki maunga’. And, interestingly, during that period a number of iwi would say something along those lines, and it was a reference to the desolation that had been visited upon those iwi, both in terms of numbers of people and also land loss. When Tomoana explained that the Kotahitanga was based on the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Whiti objected. For him, mana Māori or Māori authority was all that was required. Tomoana also met King Tawhiao that year, and invited him to join. Tawhiao said: ‘Leave the request with me and I’ll get back to you’. However, no positive response was forthcoming.

In 1895, the most important approach to the Kīngitanga was made. Members of the Kotahitanga went to visit King Mahuta, who had succeeded his father in 1894. On the 7th of May, the meeting between the Kotahitanga and the Kīngitanga was opened. The iwi attending from the Kīngitanga side were Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa, Marutuahu, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāiterangi and Ngāti Kauwhata. Those attending from the Kotahitanga side were Te Arawa, Kahungunu, Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou, Tūwharetoa, Ngā Puhi and Raukawa. This meeting was opened by King Mahuta with his speech, and he was followed by Taingakawa Te Waharoa, who welcomed the Kotahitanga and handed over the day to them. It was then that Te Kepa Te Rangipuawhe of Te Arawa observed that while the Kīngitanga had been going for thirty-five years, after a mere five years the Kotahitanga had already obtained 34,000 adherents. And so he said that it made sense for the King to come over to the Kotahitanga.

There was definitely concern about the King coming over to the Kotahitanga, in the sense that – where would he sit? Would he be above the Kotahitanga or would he be equal with the other rangatira around the island? The compromised position that was made was that he could sign as King Mahuta, but that he would be on an equal level with the other rangatira. Now at this point, sources seem to diverge, because the Minutes of the 1895 Kotahitanga Parliament clearly suggest that Tupu Te Waharoa stood and said, ‘We are now united’ – Kotahitanga and the Kīngitanga. However, the Minutes that were contained within the Kīngitanga newspaper, Te Paki o Matariki, have no coverage at all of this aspect, and in fact ask: ‘why did the Kotahitanga leave [they had left the next day] when we had not completed anything?’ So, unfortunately, a misunderstanding may have been at the root of the failing to join the Kīngitanga with the Kotahitanga. And this was the last and best chance that these groups had to join.

Of course the Kotahitanga Parliament was not acting within a vacuum. John Ballance, leader of the Liberals, became premier in 1891. Ballance was known by Māori as ngāwari: relaxed. This was in comparison to Ballance’s previous colleague, Bryce, who was known as mārō, or hard. Ballance was considered relatively sympathetic toward Māori; he even toyed with the idea of replacing the native minister, A J Cadman, with James Carroll of Ngāti Kahungunu. However, political considerations meant he would change his mind.

Ballance died in 1893. His successor Richard Seddon earned the nickname King Dick: both a criticism and a compliment. Seddon began to develop a relationship with Māori. In 1894 he toured the North Island to visit the various tribes. On this trip he had James Carroll, also known as Timi Kara, by his side. Seddon went to tell Māori that they needed to start selling their land to the Crown. In this he was fairly forceful. He basically put himself up as a mediator, and said, ‘You are like the banks of a river and Pākehā are like a flood of water that is coming.’ He said: ‘If you can help me to relieve this flood of water by selling me some land, then you will not be overwhelmed. But, if you don’t help me, then you will be completely overwhelmed’ – both a threat and a promise. He also complained: ‘Everywhere I go I hear taihoa, taihoa’ – wait, wait. It’s ironic reading that, because of course he had James Carroll at his side, who later became known as Jimmy Taihoa. However, it was not before three million acres of land had passed from Māori to the Government under Seddon’s watch. It gives in a sense a context to what was happening within the Kotahitanga during this period, particularly under Seddon. A massive land purchase operation was going on, and Māori were trying to halt it in any way possible, and the Kotahitanga Parliament was one of those strategies. It was unofficial, it was unrecognised, but the idea was that if the Government gave it authorisation, then it would have some standing. Additionally, one of the things that is very difficult now to understand is that another thing Māori wanted, besides the Parliament, was a very simple ability to control their own land with the majority of their people on a committee. And basically, politicians said: ‘Well, we are not really happy with that idea.’ It seems extraordinary now, but that was one of the key aims of the Kotahitanga: simply that Māori would be able to control their own land.

This was pretty much the theme of the Kotahitanga in terms of the Bills that were passed. Hone Heke in particular followed through with what was known as the Native Rights Bill: in Māori it was Te Pire Mana Motuhake. It was basically for the empowerment of Māori at the Māori Parliament. This finally got rejected in 1896, and in the same year, the Urewera District Native Reserve Act was passed. This was supposed to reserve land within the Urewera so that it was inalienable and would be controlled by Tūhoe. The Kotahitanga saw this and thought this might be an option, because over this period, of course, around 350,000 acres a year were being purchased: all the while the land was being sucked out, year by year.

In 1897, the Kotahitanga Parliament was held at Papawai in Wairarapa in purpose-built buildings. I suspect that they were supposed to be the permanent buildings for the Parliament. The Parliament drafted and signed a petition to Queen Victoria during that year, her jubilee year, requesting that five million acres – the remaining five million acres held by Māori – would be reserved. Now, Seddon was a little bit miffed by the petition, but ultimately used it to say: ‘Now I have a Bill, and this Bill is actually a result of your petition’. So in 1898, the Kotahitanga was considering the Bill that was put forth by Seddon. However, Seddon’s Bill still didn’t quite give Māori majorities on the committees, and this effectively ended up splitting the Kotahitanga Parliament.

In 1899, a pro-Mana Motuhake group, led by Hone Heke, took charge of the Kotahitanga at Waitangi, in its final return there. However, most of the pro-Government iwi boycotted this. In 1900, the Parliament returned to Rotorua, where Seddon’s revised Bill was passed through the Kotahitanga, with changes. These changes were headed by Apirana Ngata. Ultimately, with the passage of the two Bills that went through for the Māori councils and Māori land councils, Māori did end up having a majority on those boards; so in some ways it was what had been looked for. By 1902, purchase by the Government of Māori land had effectively stopped: hence that period of taihoa, which James Carroll became renowned for.

In 1902, the final meeting of the Kotahitanga Parliament was held at Waiomatatini. It was basically on Apirana Ngata’s home patch. In some ways it was the most isolated and least accessible venue for the Kotahitanga Parliament. Apirana Ngata decided that Kotahitanga had had its day, and sought to wind it up. While there were some objections to it, it had effectively fractured in 1898. An apakura – a song of mourning – was composed for its passing. So it ended in a very Māori way.

Lessons from the Māori Parliament

Dr Maria Bargh


In getting to the heart of the lessons that might be derived from the experiences of the Māori Parliaments, I begin by asking why the Māori Parliaments were established. The Kotahitanga Parliaments or Pāremata Māori – known synonymously as the Māori Parliament – were part of a much wider quest by Māori to unite to have the tino rangatiratanga that was reaffirmed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi honoured by the Crown. They wanted to counter the encroachments on Māori land and protect their political, legal, economic and social institutions. Needless to say, the parliamentary system that was adopted by the Māori Parliaments was not one that hapū and iwi had followed prior to the arrival of Pākehā. This parliamentary system was not adopted because it was more advanced, appropriate or efficient. It was a means to an end. From even before the 1840s, national meetings were held by Māori to discuss a number of matters: most commonly, the Declaration of Independence, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, section 71 of the 1852 Constitution Act, the Native Land Court and how Māori political and legal systems and institutions could be supported and strengthened in the face of Crown and Pākehā activities and assumptions of sovereignty. The Māori Parliament was one of many strategies used over the years for such ends, but one that was eventually diverted and neutralised by the Crown.

Why was Te Arawa involved

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