May 7, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Gareth Morgan and Pakeha Rangatiratanga

6 min read


In his latest musing, Gareth Morgan speaks beyond himself and addresses the inclusive (if albeit, elusive) We.

[quote_center]We’ve identified the achievements of the Treaty settlement and reconciliation process[/quote_center] [quote_center]We’re clear the conversation about Maori aspirations for rangatiratanga will never be over, and in our view neither should it[/quote_center] [quote_center]We are one nation, two peoples as we are often reminded[/quote_center] [quote_center]We’re also aware that Maori were grossly assaulted as a people and that assault wasn’t just via land seizure, it included the crushing and marginalisation of Maori society[/quote_center]

Now, Im not exactly sure who we are, but Im assuming that since this is the 3rd instalment, there could be/should be a fandom building behind him.

It must also mean that hes talking about us – which I assume to be Maori. Its a little bit hard to tell, but anyway, there is now a we and a they on this journey.

Again, we start mid-way through the conversation and look at the post-1970s Treaty environment (again, no mention of the Declaration of Independence, Terra Nullius, the efforts of the Kingitanga, Te Kooti, Te Ua Haumene, Te Whiti & Tohu, the assertions of Legal Nullity, Maori sacrifices in both World Wars, the historic Land March, the issues of faced by Nga Tama Toa, the struggles in Raglan or at Bastion Point, etc.).

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 12.16.19 amThe clear thing is that Gareth is annoyed that the Treaty industry has not given Maori confidence nor self esteem, which is not really what the process was meant to accomplish, I had thought. The Waitangi Tribunalwas a place to let the nation know that some horrible practices had been inflicted on many Maori communities since 1840 and that the first part in moving forward was to recognise what had happened in the past.

The Tribunal was a place to ensure that the Crown and the Government could hear the hurt of whanau, hapu, iwi and to at least bring the pain and mamae out into the open, as previous generations refused to even acknowledge that bad things had been done.

It has been said that we should have followed the process seen in South Africa with the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, where both parties came together to speak from their perspective in person. Instead the Crown stood on behalf of New Zealand, never really holding anyone to account nor informing the public on what was happening. It seemed like a case of let Maori have their moan, pay them 4 cents in the dollar for everything taken, say sorry for some things and lets move on.

As it stood, we did what we had to, based on the rules set by the colonizer.


It is here that Gareth brings up the words of identity, plurality and Sir Tipene ORegan. The reference itself is interesting as it reminded me of a korero I had with Ta Tipene not long after the Ngai Tahu claims (Te Kereeme, as he called it).[/pull_quote_left]

As we sat down at Onuku Marae in Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, he talked about how the Crown would often contest evidence put forward by Ngai Tahu, forcing an adversarial historical and legal battle. He had to constantly call upon his tupuna for support and inspiration, as he was sure that the Crown wanted to continue the suppression of what happened to Ngai Tahu.

In the end, the Crown recognised what had happened but not before a lot of soul searching, tears and Ngai Tahu money was spent. The first thing for Tipene was to step out of the chaos, into the deep dark night and ultimately, to emerge into the world of light. It was about survival before it was about revival, about speaking their truth and then to find a new path set by Ngai Tahu rather than being pawns in a greater settler game. Talk of plurality came much later.

For Ta Tipene, the challenge was to unify the stories of his own people, to share their common struggles and to put all of that hurt upon the table of the oppressor. It became a landmark claim, one that again, I suspect Gareth Morgan has not read (though Im open to correction).


So without actually recognising what had been done, it seemed a convenient time to draw a line in the sandin the article and point out the two major challenges being faced by Maori – those being self-determination/ devolution, and addressing disadvantage and, particularly, its ethnic bias.


Ive seen the word devolution twice before; in the history of my own people, Tuhoe, and the then-promise to devolve mana motuhake back to Tuhoe in our lands through the Urewera District Native Reserve Act 1896 (a nation within a nation), which was subsequently never enacted; and then again in the 1970s & 1980s when the Government spoke about devolution of Maori Affairs. This was the time of Te Hui Taumata, Ka Awatea, the Maori Loans Scandal and the sacking of both Tamati Reedy and Winston Peters.

Both were opportunistic attempts by local powers to dictate what Maori could, and couldnt, do. Both failed. Self determination ought to be something borne from within Maori and applied, rather than being prescribed by the Government and enforced.

Added to that was the nature of Maori disadvantage and ethnic bias, which seems impossible to fathom since Gareth gives very little credence to the history that put us/Maori in such dire straits. By blaming Maori as being a victim of our own circumstance and therefore, capable of digging our own way out of the gutter, he fails to recognise that New Zealand often kept us down for its own gains and benefits.

Saying that Maori needed to forget about the past and move into the future is a ploy that we have seen for many generations, and it is a fallacy. Would he dare say such things to the Irish, or to South Africans? Maybe. But it at least says that I am not the only naive one in this instamce.

The last sentence of the article kind of hit me cold:

[quote_box_center]”What we’re clear about, is that neither of the above ideas extend unique political rights to Maori.”[/quote_box_center]

Once again, telling us how to suck eggs is just dumb.

Reading this one-sided narrative from Gareth Morgan has been difficult because it is so filled with holes, has very little historical referencing and seems to tell Maori how we should react and respond to colonisation. Get over it, he reckons. Shake it off and walk with me, hand in hand, and all will be good in the world.

If anything, what I can see is a man struggling to find his own place in the weaving of a national narrative. Where is Gareths history here? What did his ancestors do?


Yes, the Rangatahi Court is a beautiful example of both cultures working together to find better solutions, but we still largely live under Pakeha LAW and not Maori LORE. This again is a Maori response to New Zealands way of telling us how to live our lives.


[/quote_box_right]What seems clear to me, on the eve of the final article by Mr Morgan, is that while he struggles to tell Maori how to move with peace in our hearts into the future, he is actually starting to define Pakeha Rangatiratanga here in Aotearoa.

My hope now is that more Pakeha listen to Gareth, learning from his first-baby steps into a wider, more fascinating view of our country , and that New Zealand itself wakes up to the fact that yesterday has a major bearing on today, but that tomorrow couldbe amazing if we just stop telling the other what to do.

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toi tu te whenua

For further reading:

  • Waitangi Tribunal –
  • Refusal of assent a hidden element of constitutional history in New Zealand
  • Ngai Tahu – Te Kereeme:
  • Tuhoe and Devolution –
  • Iwi Devolution Paper –

All things being equal (which they clearly are not)


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