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July 30, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira | [ssba]

NT: Te Ara Tauira

Treaties don’t get “settled”. They get honoured. You can’t honour the Treaty until colonisation is “settled”. You can’t “settle” colonisation with money and an apology. You can only “settle” colonisation by doing something about the power that the colonisers took.
– Moana Jackson in Max Harris’ The New Zealand Project.
Since before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, colonial governments have taken lands, either by legislation or by force, for means of their economic production and exploitation. These decisions continued after the signing, and lead to a period which unjustly deprived Māori of their legal rights. The Native Lands Act 1862 and the Public Works Act 1864 are both two examples which aided in the removal of Māori people from their homelands. 1877 saw the Crown regard the Treaty as a “simple nullity”. And even more recently, the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2003 significantly undermined the Treaty by its seeking to extinguish customary title and confiscate the foreshore and seabed.
Although governments have sought to “settle” the Treaty by way of treaty settlements, adequate measures have not been taken to symbolically recognise each injustice, and the healing process that has taken place behind each history. Even the fact that groups undertaking settlement with the government are given a handful of limiting options when dealing with the Crown is disappointing. In some instances here, the government offers either A, B, or C as options for apology, rather than meaningful and appropriate reconciliation.

The Treaty has not been honoured.
It is crucial to understand the history of the Treaty in New Zealand but it is equally as important to question who holds the power, how this power is distributed, and how this impacts the partnership today. A shift in the balance of power is necessary if the Treaty partnership is to be honoured in Aotearoa.


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