A packed theatre enjoyed a lively discussion last night at Baycourt on the history of the Treaty of Waitangi and how it influences today’s issues of co-governance, Three Waters and the redevelopment of Tauranga’s city centre .
Te Kohinga, a Tauranga-based reconciliation network, organised the free event Three Voices at the Treaty Table to help improve public understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and how it affects current events.
Justice Minister Kiritapu Allen presented the Crown’s view, saying there was generational trauma for people on raupatu (confiscated) land when they were severed from their whenua.
“I like to think it was done with no ill intent. There is no shame in our history, it’s not about placing blame. It is how we come to understand how we got here today.”
“Te Titiriti is not a bad or sad story. As settlements evolved it wasn’t just about cash.
“Co-governance arrangements have been in New Zealand’s lexicon for more than 20 years – it’s not something new. Our constitution is a bit of a boil-up, but the way we engage on these issues is important.”
She said she had been “shooketh” about reaction to the seabed and foreshore bill where people thought Māori were going to take away people’s rights to picnic on the beach and divide the nation.
“It’s not co-governance or democracy, iwi or kiwi. We can have both. We must do better, ask a little bit more of ourselves and unpack what drives the debate.”
The hui was the idea of Dr Alistair Reese, presenting the church’s role in the Treaty. He outlined the history of the Treaty at the time it was signed, saying without the humanitarian input from the church there wouldn’t have been a Treaty as we know it.
It was a symbol of peace and unity, a bill of rights for Māori and for Pākehā too.
“Without the Treaty there would be no lawful authority for Pākehā to be here.”
It was an act of love towards Māori on the part of Queen Victoria who desired to secure their property rights, he said.
Ngāti Ranginui’s Antoine Coffin outlined tangata whenua’s view of Te Tiriti. He said when it was signed in Tauranga the area was in the middle of a nine-year war and there was high trust in the missionaries.
“The claims process could be very divisive and showed the ugly side of us, but there were wonderful positives that have come out. We know more about our ancestors and acknowledge things we don’t want to bring into the future.
He said when the apology was made in 2019 to local iwi the acceptance was important, and that was led by the wāhine.
“That doesn’t mean we are immune to things that happen in the future. We must always give honour to those who were there at the signing and ask, are we being good ancestors.
“We are all connected in Aotearoa by place and events.”
Bishop Sir David Moxon asked “what do we do with this treasure from our past? How will we let it grow? We are all Team Human.”
The hui was sponsored by SociaLink, the umbrella organisation for social agencies and charities in the Western Bay.