GUEST BLOG: Tina Ngata – More Greeny-brown than Browny-Green.

By   /   May 14, 2017  /   28 Comments

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What it said to me back then is that even though there are many Green MPs and policies that I love as a Maori, they’re still not ready to step into the space of being our champions yet. So I cancelled my membership.

It’s been a big week for indigenous rights here in Aotearoa. Yesterday in Wellington we had the West Papua Independence leader, Benny Wenda, present on the incredible resilience of the Papua peoples, and the atrocities being visited upon them by the Indonesian government. At the same time, we have a delegation of young First Nations leaders connected to Standing Rock, touring Te Ika a Maui, visiting sites such as the Whanganui River, who was just recently granted legal personhood, learning from Maori communities about their ecological restoration projects, and connecting with communities, like those along the eastern seaboard, who have, like them, been engaged in struggles against Big Oil. Whenever indigenous fronts come together, great things happen and without a doubt this week will see the planting of seeds that will continue to fruit for some time yet. We’ve also seen the early drafts of this year’s report from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The draft features support for issues raised by campaign group Te Ikaroa – Defending Our Waters, around seabed drilling and indigenous ocean governance – and supports the call for an indigenous body to guide the implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Yep, the struggle may be without end, but this week felt heartening.

And then there’s Helen.

Helen who, in her interview with Guyon Espiner, reiterated her position that, had she not stepped in and alienated the Aotearoa foreshore and seabed from Maori, we would have locked everyone out of the beach (I don’t know how much fencing that would take, but it would be more than a few visits to Bunnings). Helen who wanted to point out that she had absolutely no regrets for that decision, which amounted to the single largest Maori land confiscation in modern history.

Possibly one of the most distasteful aspects of this entire experience was the fact that it soon became apparent (for Maori at least), that the Foreshore and Seabed Act was actually about securing access to the coastline for the oil and gas industry. The Foreshore and Seabed Act was passed in November 2004. In January 2005 the first drilling licence was handed out. Is there a word for that feeling when you realise that you’re being framed by the perpetrator, and nobody else believes you? That was pretty much how it felt, while Helen fanned the flames of public hysteria, contempt and racial division in order to facilitate the handing out of drilling licences. If there is a word for it, it undoubtedly sits at the intersection of rage, hurt, indignation and betrayal.

Naturally, this made her, in some eyes, a very unsuitable candidate for leading the United Nations. At a time when the world is staring down the barrel of a climate, or nuclear, catastrophe – and indigenous peoples face widescale rights abuses – surely we could not consider such a track record as Helen’s favourable.

So here I was, watching Catherine Delahunty’s live feed of the Benny Wenda talk today – and I was thinking “I bet Catherine’s going to follow this up with a stellar talk – I bet there will be some great photo ops with Green MPs and Benny…” – because, let’s be fair, they’ve been solid at holding our government to account on their lack of action about the rights abuses in West Papua for quite a few years now. It’s always nice to see non-indigenous people who get it right for indigenous peoples.

So does this translate across to the party? Are the Greens a party for indigenous rights? I ask because earlier this week, when Helen doubled down on the Foreshore and Seabed, and reverted back to accusing us of locking people out of the beach – radio silence from the Green Party. Is this because of Metiria’s declaration that the Green Party considered Helen a fine candidate for United Nations Secretary General? I never understood that position then (so I asked Metiria to explain it) and I still don’t understand it now (because she ignored my requests). What it said to me back then is that even though there are many Green MPs and policies that I love as a Maori, they’re still not ready to step into the space of being our champions yet. So I cancelled my membership.

And this week, when Helen went back there again, and Greens said nothing – it reminded me of why I cancelled it. It felt, and still feels, like every other time our liberal “friends” have gotten it wrong in relation to indigenous peoples – and I couldn’t help but wonder how that would pan out in policy implementation, especially when delivered alongside a party that actively supports Helen Clark even after she has reiterated such clear rubbish about Maori intentions over the foreshore and seabed.

If you’re reading this, Metiria (I’ve tweeted, and emailed, and facebooked you but maybe this is the magic equation) – I would really love for you to answer the question I’ve posed, and reposed:

Given what we know about the links between the Foreshore and Seabed Act and oil licensing – and given Helen Clark’s repeated insult to Maori, do you stand by your position that she is a great leader?

Waiting in vain. Tina


Tina Ngata (Ngati Porou) works for indigenous university Te Wananga o Aotearoa as a diploma and degree-level educator in indigenous environmental leadership. She lives in Te Tairawhiti and blogs underneath the name “The Non-Plastic Maori” about issues relating to indigenous rights and environmental issues.

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  1. WILD KATIPO says:

    Well that’s a fine article.

    The Trojan horse for issuing licenses for corporate offshore drilling. And they’ve ( more so under the neo liberals ) been playing this game for some time now,… chipping away at public opinion , and finally resorting to outright deceit…

    When our iron sands are valued at between 1 and 5 TRILLION dollars worth ( and that was almost a decade ago ) and licenses have actually been issued to mine them , when NZ company’s and foreign ones are lobbying and vying with each other for that position , … it was no small wonder that right back at the beginning of John Keys term as PM , – he and Gerry Brownlee were trying to influence public opinion about mining in our National Parks and beaches…

    Thankfully , – like the TTPA – public opinion squashed that flat and dead in the water.

    It was obvious that they thought they could build on Clark’s attempts over the foreshore issue…

    We can see now just what so many of these govts have been attempting over the years. Incidentally ,… Pike River coal mine was intended as a source for high value coking coal among others in NZ as a way to supply a smelting process for those iron sand operations . And the same company ( Bathhurst ) had interests in Pike River as well as the Upper Big Branch mine holdings of Virginia , USA….

    Interestingly , the mining industry has been trying to encourage open cast mining in NZ because it is far cheaper , with less staff needed – and safer- which always appeals more to the public.

    And it is rather strange that the same company ( Upper Big Branch ) that experienced a coal mining explosion claiming the lives of 29 workers with two survivors ( same as with Pike River ) were keen to have been granted mining rights in our National Parks…

    Now I know this isn’t exactly about ‘ indigenous rights’ , – but it certainly does shed light on the motives regarding the foreshore…

    * PIKE RIVER: The Greatest Disgrace – Uncensored NZ Blog

    * Murder at Pike River Mine – the Truth You Won’t Find in Mainstream ……/murder-at-pike-river-mine-the-truth-y…

    You start to be able to link the links and make a chain after you realize certain things going on in this country. Particularly when big bucks are concerned.

    • Sam Sam says:

      The fore shore and sea bed shenanigans and excuses are insulting. Every time things like this come up immedatly the white burden is rolled out ie britian had to economically uplift the savage, France had a civilising mission, America has to police to world and now New Zealand has to protect the land from its own people? And its like get the fuck out of here with the burden eh.

      I actually went to helen clarks Auckland Town Hall meeting after conducting the tuhoe raids and of course I’m Tuhoe. I distictly remember a phrase she spoke after mocking people like me as terrorists. Clark said terrorism is adhorrent to her people, it wasnt the words that struct me, it was the applausethat struck me, fear infact. Fear of the people around me. So There I was in Auckland Town sorroubded by enemy. And these arent hypothetical feelings either. People went to jail so we shouldn’t have to think very hard how far New Zealanders are will to go to protect the white burden.

      • WILD KATIPO says:

        Well , all I can say is Tina has raised a few ideas as to the motives of the likes of Key , Browlee and Clark,… and the galling thing is a lot of the wealth taken from those finite resources wouldn’t stay in the country if left up to that ilk.

        And our natural environment would be shredded.

        • Sam Sam says:

          Its like who on gods green earth gave any of these guys permission to create pedophile and child traficking rings and call it whanua orange. If we can discard children so casually whats a chunk of land casually discarded. I mean I even have trouble convencing my own family to convert to solar or chuck in for a set of reusable jars for places like Bin Inn. So the enviromental dilemma is real.

          Enviroment and family is such a commitment now adays I’v almost had to shedule in two hrs a day of family time for two reasons 1) because I want them to have more vacation time every year and 2) I want them to have more vacation time. And I strongly suspect that you look favourably on more vacation time, who doesn’t?

          Just quite when we are supposed to start thinking about blowing stuff up is something im not quite sure about. But I do know fake news is apart of pop culture that promotes violence against woman, the enviroment and even parents, do any PR degree and basically all it is is fifuring out ways of making people throw tantrums so there is always conflict with commercialism. Radio New zealand certainly will ask these questions of MSM business models now that theyre rolling mike hosking in the ratings war so there is still a lot to play for.

          Surely no one more than mike hosking encaptulates more about what is wrong with New Zealand and in so few words he can capture the complex constellation of environment/politics/immirgration/culture and instantly show people the competing nature of profit so people cave and give in to hidden desire of your inner child. Its totally insidious

      • Nick J says:

        Sam. I’m a white man and I don’t have any “white man’s guilt”. I have regrets about the colonial past and about how we are not resolving it. I have anger at acts like the Tuhoe raids and Clarks role. But please drop the white man guilt bit cos it goes nowhere constructive. I’d rather we paddled the same whaka for the benefit of all against power and injustice.

        • Sam Sam says:

          Hi NICK. I mean the burden is just so in your face what with recidivism, labour and property laws. Its all changing. Pretty soon we will share the same repulseive attitude to words like white burden as I belive we share the same discuss for words like hittlers SS, British colonial forces and so on. I also think its true that citizens in western countries will hold similar opinions about US military history as some one in the middle east will have in the medium term ie no one likes paying extortion to the US military.

          TBH I have some sympathy for people like a 1999 helen clark fresh of an election victory. I can garrentee she didn’t go into that election saying I’ll confiscate the largest area of maori land for access reasons? Other than the people who live there no one goes to tuhoe, there arent any high value targets or what ever in the area. The only thing is for the government to look all tacticool and shit. People like you and I dont squabble over land, literally only treasury and deep state geniuses dream up these ludicrous words and ideas we some times see scattered on the front page od the NZ herald.

          I hope iv made sense here. I think I did. I think if I read over our comments again inmay find that we are in a wierd way thoroughly agreeing its just I may take a little longer to get to your position.

          • Nick J says:

            Sam we probably agree on the unresolved issues caused by our colonial past and the ongoing distortion of opportunities and outcomes. Myself I get angry at my forebears who committed huge acts of injustice against each other in Europe. I am descended from proletarian unionists and wealthy land owners….I sit in terms of descent in both camps. Here in NZ I firmly believe that we need to recognise the past injustice in order to be one people. I’m certain that we will breed the difference between white and brown away but that is not enough. My wish for the Waitangi process is not to exalt weak willed reparations to a select few here and there. I would place equality of opportunity to all regardless of ancestry a greater goal that the Crown must adhere to in its role as Treaty partner. And I would honour tangata whenua as guardians of all toanga in a real sense of active guardianship with managerial and veto powers over this land. That means the Crown sharing title. I don’t think the current Crown and inheritors of the settler state would be happy with that.

        • Tina Ngata says:

          White mans guilt is a thing Nick. As is white male privilege. If you can’t acknowledge that without making it about you then you have a fair bit of work to do before you can get on the waka. (not whaka)

          • Nick J says:

            Nobody is without sin Tina but by principle you don’t inherit it. You may however inherit the benefits of past sins and how you resolve that is another issue.

            • Sam Sam says:

              But it does have biblical tones of destruction.

              For many people the destruction of the enviroment and economies and tightning living standards are having terrible consequences. So why does this mentality exist that the privilage must prevail? I just cant get to grips with this question because it is so dumb to think about how little humans are capable of co habitating. Its like why only one Noahs ark, why couldn’t there have been thousands who saw the flood coming, you know? Why wasnt more people smart enough to survive. But these same consequences keep poping up.

              Some times instead of trying to coherse and control attitudes towards the government, its instead good to let people critisise the government.

              Being captured by the magnificence of a political party is dangerous because you could end up with some one like trump so when some one says the crown is captured by race and privilage and all the bad things associated with warfare at that level I think is grounds for further discussion.

              • Nick J says:

                Dunno about the Biblical stuff Sam, I’m not religious but it’s good illustrative language. I’m sorry to have to say that privilege will always be with us which is why we must always resist it. In this country everybody should get a fair suck on the sav. When I see environmental destruction and broken life’s I know instinctively that some other buggers taking too much. In NZ that is exemplified by National, neoliberalism, entrenched privilege.

  2. saveNZ says:

    If you want to rant, I would have thought the National party and ACT would be a better target – 9 long years – still no seabed and foreshore and plenty of asset sales and record homelessness and poverty for Maori, who are worse off by any statistic. Key, can’t even by bothered to turn up for Waitangi day!

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Key carried and still does carry a lot of guilt about what he did when PM, he will not admit it, but he is haunted.

      And his first bogus circus act at deceiving the public started with this as a forerunner of things to come :

      Aroha of McGehan Close flees NZ |

      • Nick J says:

        OMG…I end up defending Helen. That’s a first. I really give no credibility to the concept that the Seabed issue was about oil and drilling. That’s conspiracy theory territory. Show me the evidence. Much as I saw her as a running dog roader for the neolib concensus I just don’t buy it.

        • Tina Ngata says:

          The govt could not carry out the licensing system without the Foreshore and Seabed being vested with the Crown. They handed the first licence out 4weeks after it was passed. Do you think that the govt developed the licensing system, found applicants, and negotiated terms with them over a 6 week (December to January) period?

          • WILD KATIPO says:

            I’m inclined to agree.

            The term ‘ conspiracy theorist’ was actually coined by the CIA. It was called that to imply far fetched and improbable theory’s, and the reason was to deflect from those who were getting too close to the truth.

            Much of their operations rely on secrecy. Therefore a term that was invented that made a group or person look ridiculous was valuable to them.

            Any person with a modicum of experience dealing with people will soon let them know that many people are not what they seem at face value. Many are prone to deceit , half truths and bald faced denial of the facts and twisting of the truth.

            And they will do it while looking you straight in the face and without even batting an eyelid.

            The military thrives on that . So do many politicians. In short , – they are liars. Anyone who does not cover all bases leaving no stone unturned is naive and derelict in disclosing and revealing the truth and discovering the real motives for certain actions . No detective worth his or her salt would ever rule out any coincidental series of events as a possible alibi or evidence of a compelling motive.

            Criminals are convicted on circumstantial evidence.

            And circumstantial evidence is collated by observing all the data , the motives, words , presence, groups , colleagues , sequence of events , ‘co incidence’… and many more…

            And to discount the real guiding motives regarding the colossal profits to be made in offshore mining or mining in our National Parks is to be woefully naive on just how these people think and operate.

            • Sam Sam says:

              Crown control over land gives them veto powers over what rivals may do. Some targets of interest considered threatening to New Zealand include TDB contributor Keith Locke, KimDotcom, Niki Harger, teachers, nurses ect. So not very threatening by my standards.

              Very simply if industrial powers have control over the spigot of industries then they do in fact have control. Even if the crown pushed for a full co governance model with maori the crown will still push for land control and thats a lever for regional control no one understands because we are not allowed to think about it.

          • Nick J says:

            Tina have you got some background evidence supported and validated? As you tell it there sure is a dodgy smell here.

            • Strypey says:

              AFAIK the immediate goal of the Foreshore and Seabed Confiscation Act was to secure the ability of marine farmers, like King Salmon, to continue running their highly-polluting, private businesses in conservation areas like the Marlborough Sounds. “Aunty” Helen knew that was how the Māori Land Court cases for traditional ownership came about. Yet still, to this day, she regurgitates the PR key messages that it was about Māori wanting to stop other kiwis going to the beach.

              As the foreshore and seabed issue flared up there were already dozens of proposals being discussed in the open for various kinds of seabed mining, leading to the campaign against ironsand mining in Whaingaroa, and the formation of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining ( To suggest Clark didn’t know about these seabed mining plans or understand the connection with the Foreshore and Seabed confiscation (need for Crown to own outright to issue mining licenses) is to accuse her of a level naivety that would uncharacteristic of her, and entirely unrealistic.

      • Nick J says:

        If only. Key carries no guilt at all. With Key like all narcissists there is only him. We are immaterial, collateral. There’s no salvation for us in adopting the idea that he cared enough to feel guilt.

      • mosa says:

        I don’t buy it W.K

        Key has no conscience and sleeps perfectly well in every one of his mansions.

    • Tina Ngata says:

      Key did not apply for the UN Secretary General job. If he did, I would do the same thing.

    • Mike the Lefty says:

      I would like to add that a large amount of prime coastal land in New Zealand is now reserved for the homes and playgrounds of the country’s rich pricks.
      Labour and National are equally to blame for this.
      This does not provide much benefit for Maori, or any New Zealanders for that matter.

  3. Jlo73 says:

    The Greens are not the problem. I fear the left left are fragmenting before the election and articles like this are going to hand another 3 years to National.

    • Tina Ngata says:

      Thankyou for proving my point.

      • garibaldi says:

        If you can’t vote for the Greens Tina ,then Mana is the only game in town?

        • Sam Sam says:

          By my guess about 200k people will think the Greens are the only game in town and about 20k people will think the same about Mana Movement. And I think if circumbstances allow they should grow more.

  4. Kim dandy says:

    On following what has occurred on both land and sea since the foreshore and seabed legislation – All New Zealanders in general should be angry at how greed has damaged our environment for $$$$ for the few ( most likely foreign). I would have preferred the foreshore and seabed remain in Maori hands over foreign greed.
    Interesting to note that recent translations (studies) of both the English and Maori versions of the Treaty of Waitangi – showed both parties agreed to ‘shared’ sovereignty …