The Waitangi Tribunal today released the fourth part of its report on claims in the Te Urewera district inquiry.
In this part of its report, the Tribunal moves beyond large-scale land alienation in Te Urewera to look at how Maori communities fared in the twentieth century, with only fragments of their original land holdings remaining.
The report begins with the Tribunal’s examination of the police action taken to arrest Rua Kenana, the Tuhoe spiritual leader, at Maungapohatu in April 1916.
The Crown conceded that its use of force at Maungapohatu was excessive, and that it breached the Treaty by not acting in a reasonable manner towards the Maungapohatu community in its actions to arrest Rua.
This military-style action, which resulted in the deaths of two young men, has been rightly characterised as an invasion, the Tribunal found. The Crown effectively destroyed a functioning vibrant community.
The report also considers issues relating to twentieth century land development.
A series of consolidation and development schemes were initiated with good intentions and delivered considerable benefits, but when the lands were returned they were encumbered with high levels of debt. These initiatives were to the credit of the Crown, and the Tribunal found Treaty breaches only in activities ancillary to the major schemes.
The Crown also imposed timber milling restrictions throughout this period. The Crown’s failure to compensate for these restrictions was a breach of Treaty principles. This was all the more telling for Maori communities in Te Urewera because the Crown’s actions from land confiscation onwards had already given rise to a procession of Treaty breaches that cut their economic capacity to the bone.
The report is available to download here: