Ihumatao Watched By Unfriendly Eyes

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IHUMATAO’s intersectional celebrations, dubbed derisively as “Wokestock” by right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton, are being watched by unfriendly eyes. The Settler Nation has zero tolerance for the politics of radical decolonisation.

While progressive Maori and the Pakeha Left were raising their glasses to Jacinda’s belated intervention on Friday evening, those responsible for preserving the status quo were setting theirs down in icy disbelief. What did the woman think she was doing? Has she no idea how badly all this could end for her party?

It was ever thus. The initial eruption of “people power”, followed by the Establishment’s remorseless re-imposition of control. First: the planting of trees and a policeman singing in harmony with the crowd. Then: the fear blowing in, cold and unforgiving; blighting all the bright colours; silencing the songs.

It is always dangerous to remind the colonisers of the world they have extinguished. To provide them with even a glimpse of that world is even more perilous. It proves to them that the culture they conquered and left for dead can be brought back to life. Ihumatao has smouldered for 156 years. The effect of the mass occupation of the past week has gifted it a sudden inrush of oxygen. Now there are flames amongst the fern.

Those flames glitter in the narrowed eyes of the watchers. From the ill-educated and ill-disciplined the responses are already forthcoming. Angry posts on Facebook and Twitter, filled with the raw racism of those for whom the possession of a white skin constitutes their sole claim to superiority. Reading these, it is difficult to decide who they hate the most: Maori, or the Pakeha who support them? Whichever it is, their animosity is palpable.

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For the moment, however, this raw racist response is little more than an infuriated buzz. Ten thousand voices are speaking at once, producing little more than an indecipherable babble. It points to the current lack of organisation and direction in the Settler Nation’s political reaction to Ihumatao. The voice of a leader has yet to assert itself above the rising racist din.

This anarchic phase will not last for long.

It will be interesting to see whether it is the Right, or the Left, which first attempts to organise the reaction to Ihumatao. The Settler State’s response to the Foreshore and Seabed crisis was led, at least initially, by the Labour leader, Helen Clark. It was she who called the organisers of the Hikoi “haters and wreckers”, and it was her Attorney General who drew up the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. This taking of the initiative by Labour, though it cost the party dearly in the Maori seats, was, almost certainly, what allowed it to retain sufficient Pakeha support to hold-off the 2004-05 challenge from National’s Don Brash.

The force of the Right’s assault on Maoridom was formidable. Brash’s Orewa Speech mobilised the most conservative elements of New Zealand’s settler society in ways not seen for decades. Had National won the general election, it was pledged to remove all reference to the Treaty of Waitangi from legislation, wind up the Treaty Settlement Process and abolish the Maori Seats.

Such was the fury inspired by the prospect of Maori enforcing their customary rights on the nation’s beaches. Only two percentage points separated the Labour and National Party Vote in 2005. New Zealand escaped an “Iwi/Kiwi” war by the skin of its teeth.

Small wonder that Labour’s Maori caucus is so conflicted. The prospect of a large and voluble land occupation developing sufficient political momentum to void the legal status of Maori land confiscated unjustly by the Crown in 1863 has clearly sent shivers up and down its collective spine. If one victim of the raupatu of the 1860s can secure the restitution of their lost land, then why not all the victims? The absolute prohibition against the return of privately held property to its original owners is all that keeps the Treaty Settlement Process alive. Do away with that prohibition, and the Settler Nation will erupt in fury.

But, if Ihumatao is not returned, or at least transformed into a public space from which large scale development is excluded, then Labour’s Maori caucus’ grip on the Maori seats will be significantly – perhaps fatally – weakened.

The same may well apply to Labour’s strong support among progressive young New Zealanders. For Jacinda to gaze upon Ihumatao’s celebration of diversity and not be moved would raise all manner of doubts. It’s one thing to want to change New Zealand, but not be able to because the nation’s bureaucratic machinery has rusted into immobility. Quite another, however, to look at the change her most fervent supporters are making – and turn away.

But, if she remains true to her vision of trailblazing a new politics of kindness, by rescuing Ihumatao, what then?

The Act Party has already put in its bid to lead the backlash. By 9 o’clock on Friday 26 July – barely two-and-a-half hours after Jacinda halted development at Ihumatao – David Seymour had released a statement to the media.

“The Prime Minister has cultivated a brand of a kinder more inclusive politics, but some things such as occupying private property are always wrong. The Prime Minister of New Zealand has just sent a message: ‘if you occupy private property, the Government will take your side instead of protecting property rights.’”

Seymour is but a scout for the main force of the Settler Nation. The National Party’s troopers will not take long to move up to the front lines if Labour is brave enough to make the next election a referendum on whether or not the fruits of colonisation remain firmly in the hands of Pakeha; or are shared out more equitably among the citizens of a new nation: The Bi-Cultural Republic of Aotearoa.

That would be an election worth voting in.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Another excellent article – this is why I always read anything by Chris Trotter – it’s like finding small pieces of gold on a sandy, windy beach. Sharp, astonishing insights with a broad grasp of history and political context.

  2. Yes, colonisation, private property rights, and the laws protecting them are one and the same

  3. The site should have been protected years ago due to its historical significance in New Zealands history.

  4. Legally, when Te Tiriti is interpreted interpreted in the context of He Whakaputanga of 1835, the NZ state never had the right to rule over tangata whenua, declare them rebels when they asserted their legal right to self-governance, or take their land as punishment. But every Maori person alive today is also descended from non-Maori ancestors, who it was set up to govern. How can the state both respect the tino rangatiratanga of those with indigenous whakapapa *and* assert its treaty-granted right and duty to govern them by virtue of the non-Maori in their whakapapa?

    The state has been facing this identity crisis for decades. There are no simple solutions and it’s likely that every generation who comes of age in Aotearoa will renegotiate the nuts and bolts of the treaty relationship. Which is, in accordance with their customs, exactly what tangata whenua reportedly expected when they signed.

    • Danyl Stripe: “How can the state both respect the tino rangatiratanga of those with indigenous whakapapa *and* assert its treaty-granted right and duty to govern them by virtue of the non-Maori in their whakapapa?”

      Exactly. And vice versa, of course; there has been so much intermarriage in NZ, that there won’t be very many pakeha families without Maori connections. Members of my immediate and extended family have married Maori; and there are offspring.

      There won’t be a single person occupying that land who doesn’t have non-Maori ancestry and relatives, even if they’re not necessarily pakeha.

      “The state has been facing this identity crisis for decades. There are no simple solutions and it’s likely that every generation who comes of age in Aotearoa will renegotiate the nuts and bolts of the treaty relationship. Which is, in accordance with their customs, exactly what tangata whenua reportedly expected when they signed.”

      True enough. But that renegotiation must avoid creating further injustices.

    • So if Maori decide the section my house is built on was stolen from then 150 years ago and turn up to evict me, we are to celebrate their efforts and expect.the government to help them?
      Remember that the current owners DID NOT steal the land. Period.
      This is a dangerous and stupid precedent that is looking a LOT like South Africa right now.

      • Jays: “This is a dangerous and stupid precedent that is looking a LOT like South Africa right now.”

        There’s certainly a risk of it. There is of course even less justification for it in SA, given the length of time since the first white settlers arrived there. How long do people’s descendants need to live somewhere, before they’re accepted as citizens of that country?

        Where NZ is concerned, people need to get a grip; they need to remember that pakeha are here legitimately, in terms of the Treaty. The confiscation and theft of land was a priori unjust; but nobody now alive stole any land. The injustice of past land alienation cannot be fixed by creating another injustice: the expropriation of present-day private property, with or without compensation.

  5. Shifting the discussion from recognising confiscation to be wrong and racist, to what about all the other confiscations: is a racist scare tactic.
    Each case on its merits as to possible outcomes as every historic confiscation had translated over time into an impossible mess to undo. But some issues are clear cut such as Ihumaatao and should be fixed quickly.

    Building trust between Maori and Crown is not helped bt the Hootons, Seymores and Brashes of this world.

  6. Yes it is going to be one nasty election we will see a huge divide between the rich and poor and the colonisers and the colonised. And racism will be at the forefront with the divide and conquer shit surfacing. I have already read deeply evil racist stuff about our Maori people and it makes me more determine to challenge the status quo that hasn’t served us and never will.

  7. See? Steer away from bashing the farmer and you’re back to your awesome self. Nobody’s perfect, I guess.
    There IS a thing within the predominately white, non Maori population in AO/NZ. It’s a palpable anomaly, like a ghost. A spirit entity. A boring, greedy, banal, two dimensional one. Anyone into devil worshiping will know that real evil is in beige paint on the walls of plasti-houses in grey roof subdivisions built on bankster borrowed money while, in this instance, some Maori settle down on the streets of an evening. On their own land. Yep redneck. You done heard me correct. It is THEIR lands. AO comes first in the AO/NZ mate.
    In these enlightened times, ( I.e. As we can now literally watch our biosphere burning as a consequence of our greed. A greed which fuels the psychological illness that is money hoarding. Money per se, should be regarded as a mere convenience. Too much of it should be viewed with disdain and those who think they’re the best because they’ve managed to hoard more than they need of it should be regarded as mentally unwell.
    David seymour is a distressing little fellow because he attracts a certain kind of grey little moth to his dimwitted light. He’s a rogernome. Does he have that picture of don brash up on his bedroom wall? The one where don has his shirt undone down to the trousers that, I’m sure, have little to hide?
    So? What is that tainted essence that deems some people as PLU’s and others as The Thems? It’s more than the lack of emotional intelligence. It’s more than the lack of empathy. It’s…. It’s….? What is ‘it’ ? It is a thing isn’t it?
    We’ve come to popularise ‘it’ politically as being either Right Wing or Left Wing which, I think, doesn’t go far enough into what ‘it’ is, although I’d be safe in writing that ‘it’ is found more often in the Right Wing. Is that why the Right Wing are afraid of Maori generally? The Right feel threatened by something they can never understand?
    See? That’s why, drugs. What would david seymour think of the homeless living in wretched squalor beneath a shrine to gambling is he were taken for a walk while high as fuck on good E? I bet. He’d be crying his heart out after five minutes and begging forgiveness.
    Is that why AO/NZ’s struggling to liberated from the dead end we’ve been lured down by the devil in roger douglas and his post colonial psychopaths?
    The good news is that any rebellion against them would be righteous.

    • Right winger generally are people who fear a lot in the world and look for a narrow niche where all they want is protected. No trust in others and fearful of any different to them

      With their crippled view of others they will be unlikely to help anyone different to them, but will easily dismiss others unlike them. Starving kids just don’t exist in their world.

      • What a pompous, self indulgent, inaccurate, small minded, simplistic and dopey comment. Let’s preach our unadulterated drivel to those who will listen eh. There will be Kind ears on this forum. I was thinking some of your comments made some sense but then you write that. What the fuck was that.

  8. We should not forget the Brash threat to end the Maori seats manipulated the Maori Party into an alliance of servitude to National, for fear that if they did not play quisling they would be outlawed – bound by the logic of Stockholm syndrome they have since lost all their seats.

    A bit like the local iwi in this case who have been co-opted by a fairly generous offer into arguing for the merits of the deal for a few years, and so their pride does not allow them to grasp the victory now before them (preserving the historic site into a public reaserve and getting housing as well is now within reach).

    If Labour side with the aged in leadership of iwi Maori, against the more radical youth they will lose the next generation – and not just Maori.

    If Ardern cannot sell the merits of preserving historic sites – public domain places – she should not be PM.

  9. “It is always dangerous to remind the colonisers of the world they have extinguished. To provide them with even a glimpse of that world is even more perilous. It proves to them that the culture they conquered and left for dead can be brought back to life. Ihumatao has smouldered for 156 years. The effect of the mass occupation of the past week has gifted it a sudden inrush of oxygen. Now there are flames amongst the fern.”

    Crikey! Talk about purple prose…. flames among the kikuyu more like, by the looks of it.

    What on earth are you talking about? There aren’t any colonisers now, and te ao Maori hasn’t been extinguished: one would have had to be living under a stone to think that. I’m beginning to wonder if you have any kind of a handle on what this situation is all about.

    See this for a straightforward explanation of the issues:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114596689/the-detail-why-ihumatao-has-opened-up-rifts-among-maori

    The land in question is privately-owned. It doesn’t matter a damn what you or I or anybody thinks about that, or about how the land came into private ownership in the first place. Some injustices cannot be remedied. We the citizens aren’t responsible for the land theft and confiscations of the 19th and early 20th centuries. None of us was alive when that happened: it’s a massive injustice to blame any of us for what happened in the past.

    What you and other misguided people apparently want is for the government to overlook the ownership issue and step in. Let’s hope that its advice says not to open that particular Pandora’s box. And – for all of our sakes, Maori included – that it will follow that advice.

    I wonder if you have the least idea how much confiscated and stolen land there is in this country. If the government foolishly steps in, not only does it risk the reopening of all of the Treaty settlements, it means that all citizens (including Maori), who have in good faith bought property which was in the past subject to confiscation or theft, will potentially have their ownership challenged by Maori (or other Maori). I’m sure that you’ll think this unexceptionable: right up to the point that it’s your property rights undermined.

    The people occupying this land either don’t understand the issues or are being disingenuous about it. I suspect the latter. The government cannot intervene without causing more trouble than we already have over the land issue.

    • We were appropriating Maori land for public works not that long ago, but the idea of doing the same for “privately” owned land (even with full value compensation) to incorporate a historic site into a public reserve is some great threat to private property.

      Old white people, and fear of loss of established privilege.

      The writer of the article felt the same about a CGT, too many people of his generation would not accept it. Like some object to having to get their rental property up to higher standards or losing the right to collect super at 65 while still in employment. Just sad.

      What a generation we baby boomers have proven to be.

      • SPC: “We were appropriating Maori land for public works not that long ago, , but the idea of doing the same for “privately” owned land (even with full value compensation) to incorporate a historic site into a public reserve is some great threat to private property.”

        It appears that you’re unaware of how the Public Works Act was used in the past; not just Maori land, as many citizens could attest, were they still alive.

        Nowadays, neither the government nor the territorial authorities are keen on using the Public Works Act, preferring to negotiate with owners, where land is required for public projects.

        You do understand the situation at Ihumatao? The land in question is privately-owned. Both the Environment court and the Waitangi Tribunal have affirmed its status. Were the government to intervene, that would establish a precedent, such that a large amount of private property could – and almost certainly would – be subject to challenge by iwi. At least some of that private property would belong to Maori, who will also own disputed land. Do you want NZ to go down that road? I certainly don’t.

        One set of injustices cannot be remedied by creating another set. Yet this is what you propose.

        • You seem to reluctant to focus on my point, land is acquired for public purposes – such as placement of an historic site into a public reserve (something that cannot happen once it is built upon).

          Why is doing this for a Maori historic site a threat to private property, but not when it is done for public works?

          Because it being done for Maori makes Pakeha insecure? That is racist as f88k. Because using more money beyond iwi Treaty settlements is not want Pakeha want. Racist as f888k. Spending government money on housing for iwi to the level Fletchers offered is not want Pakeha want (so prvate stakeholders are compensated) is not what Pakaha want. Racist as f88k.

          It might encourage other iwi to oppose development on former iwi land – and this would be bad for them (how paternalist) and be a threat to private owner use of land. Er no more than potentially using any privately owned for public purpose is – but encourage certainly. But if it was not a historic site of national significance there is still no precedent threatening private property from the iwi Treaty claim.

          • SPC: “…land is acquired for public purposes – such as placement of an historic site into a public reserve (something that cannot happen once it is built upon).”

            Not privately-owned land. Landowners may gift their land – as did Ngati Tuwharetoa, and John Logan Campbell. But they cannot be compelled by the government to hand it over – which seems to be what you’re suggesting.

            Note that the Public Works Act cannot be used to create reserves; the clue is in the name of the law: Public Works…

            Regardless of the original injustice regarding Ihumatao, the ownership die was cast long years before any of us – owners included – was born. It cannot be remedied by creating another injustice.

            I heard Hone Harawira interviewed on RNZ a dew days ago. He inadvertently let the cat out of the bag: this is an attempted land grab on the part of the protesters. We’ve been told that they do not want houses built on the land that Fletcher owns. Not so, said Harawira cheerily: of course houses can be built there! So: an attempt at a land grab. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

            “Because it being done for Maori makes Pakeha insecure? That is racist as f88k. Because using more money beyond iwi Treaty settlements is not want Pakeha want. Racist as f888k. Spending government money on housing for iwi to the level Fletchers offered is not want Pakeha want (so prvate stakeholders are compensated) is not what Pakaha want. Racist as f88k.”

            I have no idea what you’re talking about here; neither, I suspect, do you.

            “It might encourage other iwi to oppose development on former iwi land….”

            Now I’m sure that you don’t understand the issues in this case.

            “But if it was not a historic site of national significance there is still no precedent threatening private property from the iwi Treaty claim.”

            Yes. There is. Unless you’re suggesting that Fletcher ought to be bullied into agreeing to hand over their private property. But if the government steps in, a very pernicious precedent will be established.

            Note that the land originally used by early Maori for gardens is designated as a reserve – the Stonefields Reserve – and is protected in perpetuity from development.

            But we’ve heard from Harawira himself: yes, of course houses can be built on the land Fletcher owns (which isn’t Stonefields Reserve, as I assume you know)! So: clearly not of sufficient historical significance to prevent house-building; no doubt just so long as it’s not whitey doing the building, huh?

            • You seem unaware of these salient points.

              1. The Labour Party opposed this land being used for deveolpment back in 2016 (something rather unique and not a precedent inviting a free for all for other land).
              2. Quite aware of this the buyer Fletchers indicated earlier this year its willingness to consider any serious offer to buy the 33 hectares in dispute.

              And land development is only possible based on city council rules – no one has the automatic right to use privately owned land the way they want. And Labour may have thought consultation by the council with the iwi before allowing development was insufficient.

              One suspects a willing seller and a government buyer can easily come to an arrangment whereby the land becomes government owned. Then it can be largely placed into a historic site reserve with part used for state/social housing.

              The TINA line you are taking on private property sounds like the there is no alternative to neo-liberalism that is ruining trust in democracy.

              • SPC: “The Labour Party opposed this land being used for deveolpment back in 2016”

                So? Pollies in opposition can – and frequently do – make all sorts of promises they’ll never be able, or called upon, to keep, and pronouncements upon situations over which they can have no influence. And will hope that you’ve forgotten about, when they finally do come to power.

                “…. Fletchers indicated earlier this year its willingness to consider any serious offer to buy the 33 hectares in dispute.”

                Clearly, since Fletcher still owns the land, there hasn’t been one. The point stands: the government cannot intervene without putting at risk the private property rights of all of us. I invite you to think the issue through: there’s a Newtonian inevitability about what will happen, should the government be so godawful stupid as to cave in to the protestations of either the land occupiers, or sundry earnest left-wing commentators.

                “And land development is only possible based on city council rules – no one has the automatic right to use privately owned land the way they want.”

                All other things being equal, the Auckland District Plan allows housing to be built on privately-owned land, as Fletcher proposes to do. And for which it has a consent. In any event, this isn’t the issue: what is critical is that the land in question is privately-owned.

                “One suspects a willing seller and a government buyer can easily come to an arrangment whereby the land becomes government owned.”

                No no no! Have you understood nothing? Think: the government cannot do this, because it potentially undermines private property rights for all of us.

                Here’s a scenario – and don’t think it won’t happen: Maori want a parcel of privately-owned land returned, and they don’t want to pay for it on the open market, or it isn’t for sale. If the government has bought Ihumatao, the path to land return is clear: occupy it with lots of noise and well-meaning but ill-informed commentator and msm attention. And – based on precedent – exert pressure on the government to pay out the legitimate owner and give the land to them. Said legitimate owner may well be you; think about the implications. Aside from the principle, a chunk of taxpayer money is also at stake.

                “Then it can be largely placed into a historic site reserve with part used for state/social housing.”

                But hang on: aren’t the occupiers claiming that they don’t want the land built on? In any event, that part of the land that was historically gardens is already in a reserve and protected in perpetuity from development. Although Harawira clearly sees what the issue is here, even if you don’t, or don’t want to. It’s an attempt at a land grab. Of course they want houses to be built there; but they want the land back without having to pay for it.

                “The TINA line you are taking on private property sounds like the there is no alternative to neo-liberalism…”

                Do you not understand? It’s got nothing to do with neoliberalism. Private property rights predate neoliberalism by a significant margin. And you’d better be thankful for that.

                I repeat: the government cannot intervene without potentially undermining the private property rights of all of us. Maori included.

  10. Why only occupy Ihumatao, why not the whole of Auckland and other spaces once confiscated and ‘privatised’ for the use of ‘settlers’?

    Where is the difference, I wonder?

    If the ‘deals’ and ‘settlements’ made for Ihomatao were not fair and acceptable, MOST settlements cannot have been either, can they?

    ‘Colonial law’ is interpreted and decided on by the courts and the tribunals.

    If ‘colonial law’ is the problem, it needs to be got rid off, would it not?

    • Marc: “If ‘colonial law’ is the problem, it needs to be got rid off, would it not?”

      It isn’t “colonial” law; it’s contemporary law. What are you suggesting? That the laws governing property rights should be repealed, thus calling all private property rights everywhere in NZ into question? That would include yours, of course.

      I remind you: nobody now alive is responsible for the large scale land theft and confiscations of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is egregiously unjust to blame contemporary NZ citizens for this situation, as some people evidently want to do. We aren’t at fault here. We own property bought in good faith. It isn’t the case that the injustices of the past can be reversed; a fortiori by creating another injustice in attempting to deprive citizens of their legitimately-owned property

      The land at Ihumatao is privately-owned; the previous owners were completely within their rights to sell it to Fletcher. The case has been both to the Environment court and the Waitangi Tribunal, with confirmation of the current status of the land.

      Any attempt by the government to intervene risks creating further injustices.

    • Mosa: “What would Simon Bridges and the National party do if they were in government ?”

      If they have half a brain: stay out of it, as Ardern ought to have done. And didn’t.

  11. Breaking News, soon! Tainui-Waikato buys ihumatao! Why? Because they can. They’ll throw Fletchers a bone by giving them other work as theyre already on Tainui-Waikato books. Amene.

    • DennyPaoa: “Tainui-Waikato buys ihumatao!”

      If it is prepared to pay what Fletcher is asking, then once the sale is concluded, ownership passes to it. And the parcel of land becomes its private property. That’s how buy:sell works on the open market. Just so long as the government doesn’t intervene in any way.

      Although it’s worth noting that this (purchase by Tainui-Waikato) hasn’t yet happened, even though Fletcher has indicated willingness to sell.

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