New Zealand compensates Maori tribes for land seizures

The government of New Zealand agreed Feb. 11 to pay $140 million in compensation to eight Maori tribes for illegal land seizures and breaches of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. The tribes will also receive control of land and other resources, and will receive rent from forests on state land and greenhouse gas emission credits. The tribes have 12,000 members living in both the north and south islands. Many packed into parliament to watch New Zealand Prime Minister John Key sign the letters of agreement.

One tribe has also been given ownership of the Haka—the war dance performed by New Zealand's rugby teams. The haka was composed by the Ngati Toa tribe's chieftain Te Rauparaha in the early 19th century to celebrate the warrior's escape from death in battle. However, the deal does not give the Ngati Toa the right to veto its use or claim royalties. (The Guardian, Feb. 12; Australia Broadcasting Corp., Feb. 11)

Meanwhile, New Zealand remains intransigent on measures to recognize indigenous land rights in global climate talks, and refused to vote for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

See our last posts on New Zealand, the climate crisis and the world indigenous struggle.

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  1. Ka Mate haka rights part of $300m Treaty deal
    Rights over the Ka Mate haka were included in a $300 million deal signed with iwi today.

    Kurahaupo Ki Te Waipounamu Trust, Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga and Ngati Toa Rangatira, who together represent eight iwi, signed letters of agreement with the Crown this morning.

    The three groups received over $170 million in redress and $128m in Crown forest rental, emission credits and other payments.

    A special provision has been made for the haka in Ngati Toa Rangatira’s settlement package.

    No other settlement has attempted to deal with intellectual property issues before.

    For years Ngati Toa have been unhappy with commercialism surrounding the haka. The 2006 Fiat ad in which Italian women gave a slap-dash rendition and most recently a Hollywood rugby movie Forever Strong annoyed iwi members because of the profit associated with the products.

    Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira is negotiating the settlement, which includes recognition of the cultural significance to Ngati Toa and authorship – it was written by their famous ancestor Te Rauparaha.

    The settlement letter said it would “record the authorship and significance of the haka” to Ngati Toa.

    This will allow Ngati Toa to “address their concerns with the haka”.

    The Crown did not expect Ngati Toa to receive royalties or a veto on the performance of the haka.

    “Ngati Toa’s primary objective is to prevent the misappropriation and culturally inappropriate use of the Ka Mate haka.”

    The Crown also acknowledged the detention of Te Rauparaha without trial for 18 months, during which time much of the tribe’s land was sold.

    The letter of agreement is a significant marker along the way to full and final settlement.

    As part of the settlement, Ngati Toa will receive $75.35 million in redress, with an additional $45.6 million made up of accumulated rentals on Crown forestry land and emissions credits.

    The Kurahaupo Ki Te Waipounamu Trust will receive $42.41m in redress and $37.2m in lieu of redress over licensed Crown forest land.

    Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga will receive $53.69m in redress and $45.6m in Crown forest rental and emission credits.

    Prime Minister John Key, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson represented the Crown at the settlement signings.

    The three groups, representing 12,000 members based around the Wellington region and top of the South Island, have said the agreements settle all their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

  2. UK theatre’s haka upsets Maori tribe

    A risque stage version of New Zealand’s famous haka has landed Britain’s world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company in hot water with a Maori tribe.

    Maori say they are disappointed their traditional war dance, Ka Mate, was performed by a group of drunken men leaving a strip club in the theatre group’s latest production of The Taming of the Shrew.

    In the show, the men, on a stag do, were clutching a blow-up sex doll and pulled down their pants for a “moon” finale.

    Theatregoers were apparently amused by the rendition, but the tribe that has ownership rights over the haka, the Ngati Toa, says it is yet another example of “insensitive use” of their dance.

    “That certainly isn’t an appropriate use of the haka,” tribe spokesman Matiu Rei told the British newspaper The Independent.

    “If it was just for effect and used in a gratuitous manner – which it sounds like it was, then I would be very disappointed.”

    Another tribe spokesman, Te Riki Wi Neera, said on Monday he was concerned insensitive rip-off versions of Ka Mate were on the rise, and would investigate what action to take next.

    “What we really want is for people to approach us and talk to us first before they go using it but, as in this case, they just go ahead and do it without discussion,” Mr Wi Neera said.

    “That’s really not on.”

    This is the latest in a series of upsets for the tribe, which was unimpressed by a rendition by Italian women in a Fiat commercial and again by its use in the 2008 Hollywood rugby movie Forever Strong.

    Earlier this month, it was officially awarded intellectual rights to Ka Mate as part of multi-million dollar land claims settlement with the New Zealand government.

    The deal recognises that the haka was composed by the tribe’s legendary Maori chief, Te Rauparaha, to celebrate the fiery warrior’s escape from death in a battle in the 1820s, and gives the tribe leverage to stop inappropriate use.

    But Mr Wi Neera said the tribe was still in discussions with the Crown over how much control it will get over usage, and warned it may still try to officially trademark the act if it is not satisfied with the resolution.

    A trademark would hit the All Blacks hardest, since they use it as a key part of their marketing strategy, with reports claiming Ngati Toa would be able to charge the team up to $NZ1.5 million ($A1.19 million) to perform it.

    “They act as though they have a right to it and have never approached us, so that’s disappointing,” Mr Wi Neera said.

    “The All Blacks perform it fantastically. It’s just when it starts selling the All Blacks brand and all the other sponsors that go a long with it, that we want to have a talk to them about it.”

  3. New Zealands indigenous people
    The simple fact is, that Maori are not New Zealands indigenous people. Despite attempts to bury it ( litterally and figuratively), there is more than sufficient evidence to prove this. The evidence consists of bones of a people well 6 feet tall dating from before Maori landed, and others with non Maori bone structure. There is also evidence of stone structures when Maori have only ever used wood and similar materials.
    It would not take a Denny Crane or Alan Shaw to argue that this makes the Treaty of Waitangi totaly invalid, as it was offered and signed by the British Crown on the basis that they were.

    1. That’s abhorrent jive
      Even if it can be demonstrated that there was a pre-existing people in Aotearoa before the Maoris got there, they had still been the inhabitants of the land for several centuries before the English arrived. So, as far as contemporary legal realities are concerned, they are the indigenous people. You remind me of the Ugly American redneck fools who point to Kennewick Man to argue that whites were here first and treaties with the Indian nations are invalid.

      Furthermore, you left out the apostrophe in your headline. Take a hike.