Te Ture Whenua Māori Review Update

February 24, 2014

Rumour has it that the Minister of Māori Affairs has instructed the Parliamentary Counsel Office to draft new legislation governing the administration of Māori land to replace Te Ture Whenua Māori 1993, with new legislation to be in place by the end of the year.  With Ministers Sharples and Turia retiring at the upcoming general election the new legislation could well be one last legacy of the driving forces behind the Māori Party.

There has been no official word yet on the changes that are going to be made to the legislation, and if the timeframe is correct then this does not afford much time for an adequate consultation period on any draft legislation.

For more, see my previous articles introducing the review of the Act, and a discussion on unlocking the economic potential of Māori land, including a link to my Honours dissertation on the issues involved in financing Māori land development.

I’ll keep you updated with as more information comes to hand.

This Week in Māori Politics: Friday 31 January

January 31, 2014

And just like that the political year has roared into life.  Last weekend saw the annual pilgrimage to Ratana to pay tribute to an outdated religious movement of a bygone era.  The politicians were out in force, for being seen at Ratana is somehow less cynical than staying away.  Winston Peters showed up and made his customary anti-Māori separatism speech, ironic for a man who has made his career on the back of being Māori, and apparently Shane Jones got in a bit of a verbal tiff with someone but who hasn’t been at a hui where that has happened?

After that particular sideshow was over, we had David Cunliffe’s spectacularly ill-timed and ill-managed policy announcement on an extension to the paid parental leave scheme and the First Start $60 a week baby bonus.  Amid claims of middle and upper-class welfare, and allegations of attempting to mislead the public over the actual number of people who will benefit from this policy, Labour find themselves stuck at the same level of incompetence that has plagued them for the past five years.

Waitangi Day is next week, and Stuff Nation has already started the annual “let’s have a proper Waitangi Day, full of love and peace, rather than the divisiveness that currently exists” cry of the oppressed, white, middle-class New Zealand (and no, I’m not going to link it – you know how it goes already”.  Personally, I like to take Waitangi Day off, switch off the internet, and spend time with friends, family, and watching cricket.  I can deal with New Zealand’s mild disinterest in Māori affairs 364 days of the year, but the one day of sustained attacks on my heritage is not worth the fight.  Everyone forgets about it for another year anyway.

An interesting story around Waitangi Day is developing in Christchurch where the city council have refused to follow the lead of the Government and other local bodies in flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag on Waitangi Day.  Instead, they have decided to engage with Ngāi Tahu to select the flag that is most appropriate to tangata whenua. A good move for a region not especially known for its progressiveness when it comes to Māori relations.


  • Hone Harawira doesn’t show up to Parliament much.  But it’s okay – neither does the Prime Minister of Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Leaving aside the absurdity of a back bench opposition MP comparing himself to the two Members of the House who are expected to be absent for official State business, does it really matter if he shows up or not?  A one man band in opposition is not very effective anyway.
  • Teina Pora has leave to take his appeal to the Privy Council.  Justice may be slow, but in this case it is slowly starting to be seen to be working.

And then this happened.  Go and read Morgan’s comments on it – they are brilliant.  Reading Minister Tolley’s response to Metiria Turei and I do not see what all the fuss is about.  But then, it is not my place to judge whether or not someone has experienced racism – it is a deeply personal experience and one in which context (in this instance, Metiria Turei’s life story) plays a huge part.  Ad hominem attacks are a dangerous game to engage in, something Minister Tolley has found out this week.

Perhaps this presents an opportunity for the Green Party to take stock and reconsider some of their policy proposals that other groups consider racist.  Anti-immigration, anti-foreigner policies which treat people differently based on the birth lottery have not gone down too well.  It wasn’t that long ago the left were arguing that they were not racist.  Racism is a personal experience – it is not for white liberals to argue racism along partisan lines.  If foreigners feel unwelcome, or no longer welcome in New Zealand as a result of Green Party policy, then that is their experience and you cannot deny it.

Economic Independence as an Expression of Sovereignty

January 28, 2014

The following is the abstract for a paper that I am preparing (subject to approval) for the World Indigenous Legal Conference being held in Brisbane, 24-27 June 2014.

The economic wealth of Māori tribes has increased dramatically over the past 20 years following financial settlements with the Crown over historical breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi.  This economic wealth has created a powerful group of corporate Māori entities capable of shaping political and legal discourse in Aotearoa / New Zealand.  Whether individual as an Iwi (tribe), or collectively (through the Iwi Leaders Group – a group of Iwi CEO’s), these corporate entities are using their wealth to not only drive the economic, social, and cultural development of their members but also to shape law and policy on the issues that are important to Māori.

In this paper I intend to discuss what economic independence looks like, with reference to indigenous examples in New Zealand, North America, and South America; and discuss the potential for the development of economic independence to be an effective form of sovereign independence.  My general thesis is that with increased economic independence comes greater sovereign independence. Using economic wealth to build skills, improve health and well-being, and foster cultural revitalisation contributes to an increase in the independence of indigenous communities.

Drawing on various conceptualisations of sovereignty and the model of indigenous sovereignty developed by Professor Shin Imai (which recognises that indigenous sovereignty can be expressed on a spectrum of sovereignty, self-management, co-management, and participatory governance); I will argue that economic independence provides a pathway to the expression of sovereignty by indigenous communities.

Economic wealth provides indigenous communities with opportunities previously unavailable.  With increased economic wealth comes the opportunity to develop the skills and wealth of tribal members, to improve the health and wellbeing of tribal members, and the ability to revitalise traditional cultural and customary practices.  Economic wealth provides indigenous communities with the opportunity to develop their community in accordance with their own vision, not a vision of indigenous communities imposed by the national Government.  While this independence falls short of the sovereignty expressed by indigenous communities prior to colonisation, it is a foothold on the spectrum of indigenous sovereignty.

World Indigenous Lawyers Conference 2014

January 20, 2014

The Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland is calling for abstracts of papers to present to the 2nd World Indigenous Lawyers Conference to be held from 24-27 June 2014 at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.  Abstracts, to a maximum of 350 words, are due on 7 February 2014 and should be focused on one of the following topics:

  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Women and children
  • Recognition of indigeniety and First Nation Peoples
  • Social constructionsim
  • Economic independence
  • Criminal justice
  • Nation building
  • Indigenous rights and human rights
  • Climate change implications for indigenous peoples and their traditional lands.

For more information, visit the official website here.

I attended the first WILC in Hamilton in 2012 and it was an incredibly inspiring conference (I wrote about my experience here).  A large number of highly qualified speakers attended the event, alongside a number of indigenous legal practitioners, academics, and students from around the world.  I am contemplating preparing a paper on economic independence to present at this conference, and I recommend that if you are passionate about issues of law and economics and their impact on indigenous communities, then you should attend this conference.

This Week in Māori Politics: The Summer Holiday Edition

January 17, 2014

With the news this week being dominated by the Kim Dotcom Internet Party launch and cancellation there has been little focus on Māori politics in the mainstream papers and in the political blogs.  The Parliamentary Powhiri debate continued, albeit in a limited form and revelations of a TPK overspend came to light.

To Powhiri or Not To Powhiri?

On Monday, Tariana Turia wrote a passionate op-ed in the NZ Herald affirming the need for Parliament to remain committed to our cultural traditions.  Minister Turia gets to the core of the issue when she states that:

We will not accept any attempt to bastardise the cultural practices of tangata whenua by artificial modifications to a ceremony which has been upheld with the greatest of pride by whanau, hapu and iwi throughout Aotearoa.

Turia goes on to welcome the review, noting that it presents an opportunity to discuss these issues of cultural, ritual, and respect more deeply.  With Waitangi Day around the corner we can only hope that the discourse on Māori issues takes place with this sense of respect permeating through our discourse.

A TPK Outsourced Dilemma?

Over at Maui Street, Morgan Godfrey picks up on Brendon Horan’s revelations that TPK has doubled its spend on external consultants over the past year, while remaining under-resourced internally.  While the high level of external spend is a concern, it perhaps reflects the unique position that TPK finds itself in.  As a matter of lifestyle, experienced Māori policy consultants prefer to work independently rather than as part of a Government Ministry.  The tension between being a Māori and having to often toe the Government line within TPK became apparent to me very quickly during my time working there.  Being outside the system means that you can still provide policy assistance where required without this contradiction.  In an ideal world, TPK will be overflowing with a highly experience and passionate Māori workforce but for many who have passed through those doors, the experience of having to advocate for something you do not believe in is a bridge too far.

Until next week!

Why I Do What I Do

January 13, 2014

I had a different article prepared to upload today but as it is my first day back at work after a months holiday, I wanted to instead delve into my professional life and share with you why it is that I do what I do.

Readers will recall that in April last year I handed back my law practising certificate and took up a job in the accounting and Māori sector teams at Deloitte.  9 months on and it is probably one of the best decisions that I have ever made.  In short, I am inspired everyday with the work that I do, and the clients that I am fortunate enough to work with.

The core of my work is providing strategic and accountancy advice to Māori organisations.  Alongside the traditional accounting functions, we sit alongside our clients and provide a framework to their overall strategic direction.

Advising on Iwi strategy is why I love doing what I do. We facilitate, we guide, we advise, and we provide the framework of an Iwi’s overall strategic direction.  These sessions, which can run upwards of 4 hours, are wonderful insights into the hearts and minds of each Iwi.  No two Iwi are the same in their specific challenges and ideas for growth and this prevents our job from being simply providing a cookie cutter strategic direction to each Iwi.  Factors such as Location, size, engagement of members, assets, cash funds, terms of the settlement, and available skills differ across the clients I work with, and each difference necessitates a different response and a different approach.

We are the same, but we are different.  What works in one part of the country and with one Iwi will not necessarily work with another.  What works for large Iwi will often not be appropriate for smaller Iwi and vice versa.  So while it is great to look to the likes of Tainui and Ngai Tahu for guidance, what has worked for them will not often work for other, smaller, Iwi.  The fundamentals remain the same – putting the preservation of the putea first, investing in what you know such as land and people, and working to increase the skills of members (for more, see the introduction to the Māori Economic Development Framework) – but the means of achieving them will differ.

He Tangata

Ultimately, my job is about people.  Yes, I work for a large multi national organisation and yes, we work with clients often criticised as being the corporate Māori elite. But I work with a team of Māori accountants and business advisors, working with another group of Māori to leave a better future for our tamariki. People helping people.  Every single Iwi organisation that I have worked with, however big or small, have one core goal: the social, cultural, and economic development of their people. The means will differ between Iwi, but the overall focus remains the same.

This focus may not appear obvious to those who argue that Iwi organisations are pursing profit over people, but this is my experience.  Every Iwi organisation faces a conflict between providing for the immediate needs of its members and ensuring the long term prosperity of the Iwi.  Striking an appropriate balance between these two outcomes is a major challenge.

At the end of the day, our focus on people is the driving force behind the work that we do.  And being in a position to assist our people with their social, cultural, and economic development is the driving force that makes my job worthwhile.

This Week in Māori Politics: The Welcome Back Edition

January 9, 2014

Kia ora and happy new year.  After a long and relaxing holiday, I have picked up the electronic pen again and today bring you the first weekly political review focussing on Māori politics. Each edition will go live on Friday morning, and will cover the main political issues of the week, insights and blog articles on Māori politics by other Māori and non-Māori writers, and links to interesting korero on Māori and indigenous issues.

With the General Election only 11 months away, 2014 promises to be a fascinating year in Māori politics. By compiling a weekly review, I am aiming to bring together a wealth of information to inform Māori voters and to shed light on the many major questions waiting to be answered this year:

  • Will we see the end of the National led government and, if so, what does this mean for Māori?
  • Will Te Ureroa and Hone be successful in adding to their parliamentary caucuses or will Labour reclaim the remaining Māori electorates?
  • Will the water rights issue continue to court controversy, or will an even bigger issue take centre stage?
  • And, perhaps more cynically, which politician (Winston excepted) will be the first to play the race card in 2014?

This Week in review

As I am still in the final days of my holiday over here in London, this week will be a truncated review of the going-ons in Māori politics.  One issue appears to have dominated all others, and that was the decision by the Speaker of the House, David Carter to review Parliamentary protocols regarding powhiri and “modernise” them.  Modernisation in this context relates to the position of wahine during powhiri.  The sacred, and specific, roles of tane and wahine in powhiri are often misunderstood by pākehā, and thus what they consider to be modernisation is often nothing more than cultural insensitivity.

Modernisation in this context is an inappropriate turn of phrase, and the Speaker should have known better than to frame his review in this way.  Of course, it is appropriate for parliament to review it’s own protocols, including how powhiri are conducted in its own Whare Nui, so long as it does not presuppose that it has the right to criticise those hapū who do continue to have a strict delineation of tane and wahine roles during powhiri.

He aha tō whakaro? Should Parliament reconsider the role of wahine in powhiri conducted on their grounds? Or is this a simple case of cultural insensitivity?

A New Model for Iwi Authority – Iwi Member Engagement

October 31, 2013

There has been some internal discussions with my home iwi, Te Ātiawa recently over issues of representation and engagement between the newly mandated post-settlement governance entity and the Hapū and individual members of the Iwi.  My impression of these discussions is that there is a degree of disillusionment amongst Māori over the lack of real engagement between our institutions and the people.  The real, and potential, economic, political, and cultural strength of these institutions vis-a-vis the wider New Zealand society cannot be doubted.  That said, I am of the opinion that unless changes are made to how we engage with our communities, the perceived disconnect between our institutions and the people they represent will only increase.

The current engagement process is top-heavy, and sporadic.  For many, monthly newsletters and the once a year AGM are the primary sources of information about the activities of the Iwi at the institutional level.  Decisions are made by the elected Trustees and communicated down to Hapū and individual members.  The net effect of this process is to shut out iwi members from the decision-making process and completes the move within Te Ao Māori from a collective decision-making entity to a representative democracy model whereby we elect our leaders to make decisions for us.

This does not need to be the case.  New technology, especially community-driven technology, has been at the forefront of community-driven movements around the world.  From the Occupy movement through to the Arab Spring, participants have been using social media, and specially designed technology platforms to communicate in real-time across a large number of individuals – all of whom are able to contribute to the decision-making process and, ultimately, be part of the making of the final decision.  We should learn from, and implement these models in our interactions at the Iwi level.

My initial proposal comprises two components: increasing the reporting from the Iwi Authority to members; and making better use of online technologies to facilitate discussions.

1: Increased Reporting

As noted above, the primary means of communication between Iwi Authorities and members is through occasional newsletters and the AGM.  The problem with this approach is that by the time the AGM rolls around, it is too late to do anything other than complain about the activities of the previous year, and elect new Trustees who you hope will do a better job.  The rise of cloud-based accounting platform Xero and other management reporting platforms allow for the provision of up to the minute financial information and other material that can be communicated to iwi members on a monthly basis.

A monthly management report should, therefore, be a minimum requirement for our Iwi Authorities.  By setting out the financial performance and a run down of key decisions and activities undertaken each month, and communicating these to iwi members via hui on a monthly basis will strengthen the accountability of Iwi Authorities, and improve the lines of communication between the Authority and its members.

Furthermore, monthly hui will provide for the greater involvement of iwi members in the decision-making process.  Currently, a lot of decisions are made by the Iwi Authority behind closed doors, and members have a simple yes or no vote to make.  A community-driven process will allow for greater input by members into both the options available and the final decision.  By tabling a proposal at a monthly hui, inviting discussion on a range of options, and coming to decision based on consensus is a decision-making process more in line with tikanga than the current model.  Controls will still need to be in place to ensure financial sustainability, but that should not be used as an excuse to deny Iwi members from contributing in a meaningful way to the decision-making process.

2: Online Collaboration

The second stage in my proposal to increase engagement is through the greater adoption and use of online social media and community collaboration technologies.  Some Iwi and Hapū use social media such as Facebook and twitter to communicate and discuss issues with their members, and do so in an effective way.  Yet, given the enormous power of such platforms to connect communities their adoption by Iwi is less than ideal.  And while most Māori – especially Rangatahi Māori – have a Facebook or twitter account, these platforms are just the beginning.  Online collaboration platforms such as Loomio offer groups the space to discuss issues and ideas in a private online setting, and come to a consensus-based position.

The power in these technologies is that they have essentially modernised the historical practice.  They provide a space for those outside the rohē to discuss issues and provide for a continuous discussion on the issues that are important to the Iwi or Hapū – not just a one-off discussion at a monthly hui or an AGM.

Online collaboration allows for a 24/7, 365 day discussion on Iwi activities and progress. Perhaps this is why some of our leaders are fearful of wider engagement with the communities that they are elected to represent.

The Māori Economic Development Framework

September 9, 2013

I have spent a lot of time these last few months thinking about Māori economic development.   The result of this thinking is the Ka Tōnuitanga Māori Economic Framework.  The framework is designed to put structure around an on-going conversation on economic development that reflects a Māori worldview.  There are three components to this framework:

  1. The Principles of Māori Economic Development
  2. The Values of Māori Economic Development
  3. The Financial Sustainability Guidelines for Organisations pursuing Māori Economic Development

As part of my work in the Deloitte Māori Sector Team I have had a large number of discussions with colleagues and iwi organisations on establishing and growing Māori corporate entities, and on the wider kaupapa of Māori economic development.  These conversations have contributed immensely to the development of this framework.  The framework is a work in progress, and I am keen to receive any input that you feel is relevant to the development of this work.

The Principles of Māori Economic Development

The core principle of Māori economic development is that there should be a nexus between the social, cultural, and economic development of Māori.  Every Iwi organisation that I have spoken to, and worked with, other the past six years has placed the development of their people and the retention of the culture and tikanga specific to them at the forefront of their development activities.

The aim of a traditional business is to create financial value for its owners.  The aim of many of our iwi organisations is something more than that.  The development of people, the preservation of culture, the protection of the environment, and the increase in financial wealth of iwi members are all aims of iwi organisations.  It is these wider aims that distinguish an iwi organisation from traditional businesses.   The principles of Māori economic development will, therefore, flow from this wider kaupapa of an iwi organisation.

As I progress through the development of this framework, more principles will be added to the list.  Feel free to suggest some in the comments below.

The Values of Māori Economic Development

I will note at this stage that these values are still very much in draft form.  I have a lot more reading, thinking, and discussing to undertake before I am confident in stating the core values of Māori economic development.  The values set out below serve as a starting point:

  1. Tōnuitanga – Prosperity
  2. Kaitiakitanga – Preservation / Sustainability
  3. Tangata – People
  4. Whenua – Land & Resources
  5. Tikanga –Values and Process
  6. Whānau – Collectivism

The Financial Sustainability Guidelines

Principles and values are meaningless without a viable, long-term approach to managing the financial assets of an iwi organisation.  Successful organisations, in whatever form they take, all adhere to some, or all, of the guidelines listed below.

  1. Set a clear vision and strategy
  2. Establish an appropriate entity structure
  3. Separate governance and management
  4. Preserve the pūtea
  5. Distribute no more than 4% of the overall pūtea each year
  6. Invest in what you know: Invest in land; Invest in people; Invest in culture
  7. Use bankroll and percentages to make speculative investments
  8. Surround yourself with experienced advisors
  9. Be open and transparent with financial information
  10. Provide financial education to members

Over the next ten weeks I want to progress this conversation with a wider discussion of the financial sustainability guidelines for organisations pursuing Māori economic development.  Each week I will discuss one of the ten guidelines in detail.

I am keen to hear your thoughts on these guidelines, and the wider framework, so leave a comment below and get the discussion started.

An Important Question for Shane Jones

September 2, 2013

I must admit to have only been paying minimal attention to the Labour party leader selection process, but it does appear to be a worthwhile exercise for any political party to go through.  What I have noticed is that one very important question has, to the best of my knowledge, not yet been posed to Shane Jones.  A question which, when asked, will determine the outcome of his bid for Labour party leader.

We know what he wants to do with the $50m gorilla, that he has women and sexism issues, and that his heavy use of metaphors and apparently off-the-cuff speeches have a tendency to confuse those of the new school who believe politics to be a series of set piece manoeuvres.  Yet where he has been strangely silent is on Māori issues.  So, my question for Shane Jones is this:

Matua, as Labour leader, what will you do in relation to Te Takutai Moana Act and Māori rights in the foreshore and seabed?

Because if Shane Jones truly wants to be our first Māori Prime Minister, then his answer to this question is really really important.

Update: I have since been informed that this question was put to Shane Jones on Native Affairs last week and that he had no intention of re-addressing the Takutai Moana Act.  If the new leader of the Labour Māori Labour caucus does not want to re-visit one of the greatest confiscations in our history, then that tells you all you need to know about Labour’s attitude towards Māori.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 493 other followers