May 18, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

TV3 Poll shows overwhelming support for the return of Te Urewera

5 min read

A TV3 online poll ran hot over the weekend with 184 comments (and counting) the majority of which were in favour of the Uruwera being given back to Tuhoe. What was interesting was the clear ignorance (i.e. Tuhoe aren’t indigenous, they came from Hawaiiki) of Tuhoe whakapapa which is known to connect many Tuhoe (in particular those with links to Te Urewera) directly to the whenua through the coming together of Maunga-Pohatu and Hine-Pukohurangi.

In the thought-provoking paper, Nga Taonga o Te Urewera (2003), Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Linda Waimarie Nikora remind us that:

Tuhoe retain a strong sense of being Tuhoe, and a very deep sense of attachment with Te Urewera. This attachment is more than an emotional and cognitive experience. It is both an actual and symbolic relationship formed by people giving culturally shared emotional/affective meanings to Te Urewera forged through geneaology, cosmology, pilgrimage, narrative and economics. Te Urewera is both a territory of the Tuhoe collective and individual…

To view TV3’s online poll and/or have your say, click here

Ownership and control of Te Urewera is a bottom line for Tuhoe

Tuhoe negotiators are proposing a transitional arrangement which would give the eastern Bay of Plenty iwi full control of Te Urewera National Park within a decade Waatea News has reported.

Chief negotiator Tamati Kruger says Tuhoe hopes to have a final agreement by the end of the year.

He says ownership and control of Te Urewera is a bottom line for the iwi, but it might take some time to sell it to the public … so a five to 10 year plan could be in order.

It would give the Department of Conservation and Tuhoe some time to provide proof to the New Zealand public that their rights are unimpeded into Te Urewera and that a governance and management plan will provide greater accessibility, better hospitality, better tracks and huts and improved services, Mr Kruger says.

The Crown’s position that it wants to jointly look after the 212,000 ha park is unacceptable to Tuhoe.

Having control over governance and management of Te Urewera is visionary and would be the first settlement of its kind (please correct us if we are wrong). It is pragmatic for the transition period to take the suggested 5-10 years and would place Tuhoe in a far better position both economically, culturally and spiritually.

Nunavut - Indigenous Sovereignty in Canada

This would be clearly in line with the newly signed UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. There are several successful examples of land and sovereignty which has been returned to indigenous communities, in particular that of Nunavut.

Nunavut became Canada’s third territory on April 1, 1999. It is the largest territory and makes up one fifth of the Canada’s land mass. Nunavut means “our land” in the Inuit language of Inuktitut. Within this territory are 28 communities and key industries include tourism, fishing, arts and crafts and diamond mining (opened in 2006)

Inuit tamariki of Nunavut

At the Tuhoe Economic Summit held in 2009 in Opotiki – guest speaker Sir Tipene O’Reagan told the audience to “go for it” as Ngai Tahu had been forced to compromise which saw Aoraki National Park given back to Ngai Tuhi only to be returned to the Crown (oops we mean the “People of New Zealand” the following day.

The idea of Te Urewera being (finally) officially given back to Tuhoe by the Crown has also received backing from the Hunting and Fishing lobby (VIDEO) who have been involved in these negotiations, saying

We don’t have a major concern with access, our dealings with Tuhoe have been very honourable, very respectful, I think there has been mutual respect both ways”

TV3 Poll

Upon examining the comments out of the TV3 poll, you will find a range of passionate opinions but those that stand out are the many articulate and eloquent writers in favour of this collective vision:

Karin Zaunberger, a visitor to Te Urewera wrote:

I am not a New Zealander, but I had the unforgetable opportunity to visit Aotearoa in 1986. I stayed in the Urewera and I was lucky to get to know the Tuhoe people. I was and still am very impressed about their way of life. They still live their culture instead of selling it. They are strong, life-seeking people. Feeling the spirit of nature Tuhoe people treat it with respect. They never regarded themselves as the owner of the land we are only visitors here. The planet is in quite a disarray, climate change, biodiversity loss, degradation of ecosystems, overexploitation of the oceans and other natural resources. The list is long. All this is the result of mismanagement mainly driven to seek short-lived profit for some rather than long-term sustainable well-being for all. We need to fix that urgently, if we want that our children and grand-children enjoy a planet that is recognisable. We need to bring human societies into a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with the living world. Tuhoe people have done this throughout their existence in Aotearoa. The idea that they get back ownership of their land gives me hope and I wholeheartedly support to give back the Tuhoe the ownership of the Urewera.

While @paekoacreek a writer from Ruatoki wrote:

Its not about ownership, its acknowledgment. Te Urewera is interwoven into the fabric of who we are – toku ora toku Tuhoetanga (John Rangihau). The sad fact that some cultures no longer share a fundamental sense of intimacy with any particular place is their own business. Tuhoe have maintained strong cultural resilience over time and against all odds, we actually still love our ngahere, awa, maunga, whenua…with a fierce passion! (ko au ko te matemateaone) Return of Te Urewera to Tuhoe ‘ownership’ (not our term), means that we, Tuhoe, can move that much closer to our full potential as whanau, hapu, iwi AND as citizens of Aotearoa/NZ

Profound sentiment. It is no doubt that given the opportunity, Tuhoe will be able to both manage and govern their lands accordingly. Tautoko!

Tuhoe retain a strong sense of being Tuhoe, and a very deep sense of attachment
with Te Urewera. This attachment is more than an emotional and cognitive
experience. It is both an actual and symbolic relationship formed by people giving
culturally shared emotional/affective meanings to Te Urewera forged through
geneaology, cosmology, pilgrimage, narrative and economics12. Te Urewera is both
a territory of the Tuhoe collective and individual, like Henare above, that contrasts
sharply with those territories of others. We know when we are not at home. We
know when we are in the territories of others.

2 thoughts on “TV3 Poll shows overwhelming support for the return of Te Urewera

  1. Tuhoe apology opens old wounds

    By Yvonne Tahana

    Tuhoe leaders say a Crown apology for 19th century injustices would be meaningless unless tribes who fought with colonial forces also say sorry.

    The Herald understands Treaty settlement negotiations have explored what shape a formal Crown apology might take, but sources say if an apology is owed then Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu and Te Arawa should also show some contrition.

    Those three iwi were instrumental in the 1870 and 1871 pursuit of Te Kooti, whom Tuhoe allowed to take refuge in Te Urewera after massacres in Poverty Bay.

    Historian Paul Moon said it was important to remember that only sections of hapu or individuals from each tribe would have been involved in the fighting.

    Similarly, not all of Tuhoe supported or were complicit in sheltering Te Kooti.

    But the suffering Tuhoe were subjected to was different from that of other iwi who faced war and land confiscations.

    "The Crown had almost a sort of scorched earth policy. Villages were burned and crops were destroyed, but there was almost an ethnic cleansing in a way.

    I think the intensity of what they've suffered is seen now in their desire to get a full apology. It's not just the standard Crown apology which they'll photocopy and change the name of the iwi. They want something far more substantial."

    It was an interesting situation as the Crown could not compel other iwi to apologise.

    "It's very humiliating if someone apologises for your behaviour and you don't consent to it – there's some real problems there," Dr Moon said.

    Te Arawa representative Toby Curtis would say only that the iwi-to-iwi matter was extremely sensitive.

    "First and foremost this matter would have to be discussed by Te Arawa."

    Others spoken to had an aversion to dredging up past deeds of ancestors.

    AUT University pro vice-chancellor Maori Pare Keiha has Rongowhakaata tribal links to Te Kooti and had ancestors who were killed by the religious and guerrilla leader.

    But he was wary of the concept of an apology.

    "I have no doubt whatsoever that our own people were not all kind and caring – but that's also the history of humankind.

    "I'm always very cautious to revise history because whether you call it civil wars or internecine fighting, none of us were there.

    "With hindsight, history often has a habit of distorting the truth. If we carry around [that] hurt, none of us would get out of bed in the morning."

  2. Tuhoe talk to Goff over action on raids

    Tuhoe have met Labour Party leader Phil Goff to brief him about the tribe's settlement negotiations and also to discuss the impact of the police "Operation 8" raids in Ruatoki, south of Whakatane, in 2007.

    Iwi leaders have been meeting politicians across the spectrum as they try to build support for a settlement which could result in them becoming owners of Te Urewera National Park.

    Negotiator Tamati Kruger said he met Mr Goff and outlined Tuhoe's position on its settlement, which could be worth $135 million.

    But Mr Kruger also used the meeting as an opportunity to tell Mr Goff that the tribe is considering civil action against the police and Crown for the way the raids were conducted, specifically in the Ruatoki community.

    Tuhoe have alleged civil rights abuses against those not arrested, including strip searches, illegal detention, having homes trashed and being stopped at illegal roadblocks.

    It was important that the Labour leader was given fair warning of Tuhoe's intentions, as Mr Goff was a Cabinet minister in Helen Clark's Government, which was in power when the raids occurred in October 2007, Mr Kruger said.

    '"What he said to me was they acted upon the advice of [Police Commissioner] Howard Broad. Phil Goff is not going to say 'yes, we were wrong'. What he is going to say is 'well, we did what our most senior official told us to do'.

    "The sense I got in that room is the same sense I've got in most of my conversations with politicians, whether they are National, Greens, Maori Party or Labour – is that it was a mistake, because if this whole thing is true, the prosecutions would have taken place and the perpetrators would have been in jail in less than a year."

    Mr Goff confirmed the pair had met.

    Asked if he thought the raids were a mistake, Mr Goff said only the judicial process would be able to sort that out.

    He said Mr Broad had acknowledged that there were aspects of the raids which could have been completed differently, but police had a job to do.

    "I don't believe that the police acted in bad faith. I think they acted on the information that had been given to them."

    Extensive suppression orders surround the Operation 8 case.

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