Kei āku nui
Kei āku rahi
Koutou kua tatū mai
ki tēnei o nga wānanga
He wānanga whakapiki ora
He wananga whakapiki kaha
He wananga whakapumau
i nga āhuatanga o nga
o Ngāti Pūkenga
Tena tatou katoa
It’s such an honour to take part in this wananga today. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the investiture of Justice Sir Joe Williams, to mark the remarkable milestone of the appointment of the first person of Māori descent as a judge of our Supreme Court and salute his work on behalf of iwi Māori and justice in Aotearoa New Zealand.
We are in for a veritable feast – of kōrero, waiata, kai and good company.
He aha te kai ō te rangatira? He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero.
I was certainly nourished and sustained by the kōrero with Ngāti Pukenga, as Chief Crown Negotiator in your treaty settlement claim.
It was a life-changing and life-enhancing experience for me, opening my eyes to a history that too few New Zealanders know about.
I realised just how much we live our history in the present and that in order to do justice to our future, our history needs to be addressed and understood.
Titiro whakamuri haere whakamua.
We need to look to the past to inform the future.
I bring my thoughts and reflections about that time with me today.
You will be all too familiar with the truism that iwi Māori, of necessity, have had to move deftly and expertly between two worlds.
Ta Joe and my fellow speakers today are prime exemplars of a cultural competency that eludes many Pākeha.
And that included me. When I began working on Treaty claims, I was thrust into a world I knew very little about.
I owe much to the generosity of the Ngāti Pūkenga negotiators, led by Rāhera, who shepherded me on my first tentative steps on that journey. I will not forget their wisdom and manaakitanga.
I assumed the role of Chief Crown Negotiator for Tauranga Moana treaty claims in 2009. My first step was to read the first Waitangi Tribunal report on the Tauranga Moana Historical claims. Many of you will know it well – all 526 pages.
As a pākeha, growing up nearby and frequently visiting Tauranga Moana as a child, I had heard of the battle of Gate Pa, and the confiscation of land that followed, but not much more. So I found the report, frankly, shocking but relatively impenetrable.
Over the following four years we met frequently, and our discourse ranged across historical and contemporary treaty breaches. My education on Ngāti Pūkenga was conducted – sometimes patiently, sometimes passionately, sometimes in sorrow and anguish, but always politely, by Te Au Maaro o Ngāti Pūkenga led by Rahera, Te Awanuiārangi Black and Shane Ashby, supported by Areta Gray and Dominic Wilson.
I witnessed the signing of your Deed in 2013 and I was in the unique position of granting Royal Assent to the Ngāti Pūkenga Claims Settlement Bill in 2017.
During our negotiations we traversed many issues and I heard the history of your four kainga, but we never managed to visit Manaia, so it is very satisfying, as unfinished business, to be here today.
Today, I’ve been asked to reflect on how partnerships can be built between Ngāti Pūkenga and the Crown.
In returning here, wearing a different Crown hat, in my current role as Governor-General, I can draw also on the experience of travelling throughout the motu over the last four and a half years. Thus I thought I would extend my remit here beyond a negotiator’s perspective to look at the Crown more generally.
It’s been an immense privilege to be welcomed as Governor General by iwi throughout Aotearoa, from Te Tai Tokerau in the North to Murihiku and Rakiura in the South.
My journey to gain a deeper understanding of te ao Māori has been supported and informed all that way by the lessons I learnt from Ngāti Pūkenga.
As the Queen’s Representative in New Zealand, I have naturally given a lot of thought to the nature of the Crown.
Ask ten people what ‘the Crown’ means, and you would probably get ten different answers, depending on who you are speaking to and the context of the conversation – whether it’s the proverbial person in the street, a Treaty claimant, the Attorney General, a public servant, a constitutional expert, an historian, a Waitangi Tribunal member, a Minister of the Crown, or indeed, a Governor-General.
I like the definition of the Crown as a shapeshifter. With many meanings depending upon context. Some common understandings include:
our Head of State;
the government and state apparatus;
a sovereign entity that sits above the government;
and, of course, the partner in our Treaty relationship.
Sir Pita Sharples described the Crown as both ‘an ally and enemy of Māori’ and a former Treaty Minister referred to it as ‘a useful fiction’.
Thus the wrongs of the past can be conveniently ascribed to ‘the Crown’ rather than to particular administrations in our history.
Lawyers and public servants turn to the description in the Cabinet Manual and the definitions enshrined in legislation – the Public Finance Act and Crown Proceedings Act – which define ‘the Crown’ as ‘Sovereign in Right of New Zealand’ and ‘Her Majesty in Right of New Zealand’, including all Ministers ‘of the Crown’ and departments of government.
For Maori, although the Crown is often portrayed as a colonial oppressor, it also embodies their personal link with the monarch. And in my experience this connection remains enduring and durable.
From virtually the day the treaty was signed, Māori commenced their direct engagement with Queen Victoria and her successors, through letters, petitions, and numerous visits to London.
When Governor Hobson died in 1842, Te Wherowhero of Waikato wrote to Queen Victoria, and offered advice on the qualities his replacement should have. The Queen responded to Te Wherowhero’s correspondence with her assurance that the Treaty ‘should be most scrupulously and religiously observed’.
Māori used their visits, correspondence and petitions consistently to complain about the failure of successive colonial governments to uphold the treaty. These appeals continued over many years and to each successive sovereign. They all reflected a deep personal attachment to the Monarch. Thus, Kingi Tāwhiao sought an audience with Queen Victoria in 1884, writing…
“… we the chiefs of a race loyal to the Queen and acknowledging the Queen’s supremacy, seek access to her presence … since the completion of the treaty of Waitangi, the Māori race have looked up to the Queen as our great mother….”
To the present day, connection with Queen Elizabeth has continued to be strong and direct, reinforced through visits both ways and countless gifts.
Of particular significance was the Queen’s visit in 1995 when she personally signed the Royal Assent to the Waikato Raupatu Claims Settlement Bill, containing the formal apology for treaty breaches suffered by Waikato Tainui, in the presence of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikahu.
In the role of Governor-General, the Crown has a very particular set of meanings.
As representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, our Head of State, I perform constitutional and ceremonial roles that would be undertaken by the Sovereign if she were to reside in Aotearoa New Zealand.
I felt some of this significant connection in 2019, when I travelled to Maungapōhatu to sign the Royal Assent to the Bill pardoning Rua Kēnana, in the presence of many Māori including his descendants and Kingi Tuheitia.
As Governor-General, I take opportunities to celebrate and shine a light on the very best of us in Aotearoa.
Whether that’s through investitures, attending significant commemorations, opening exhibitions, or – just yesterday – learning about conservation efforts at Maungatautari – I can help tell a story of what makes Aotearoa a special place.
And sometimes it’s my role to stand and speak for all of us as we grapple with grief and sadness as a nation.
Beyond those functions, another symbolic aspect of the Crown comes into play when I visit marae or the Treaty grounds at Waitangi, and on Waitangi Day itself.
On those occasions I’m frequently reminded that because Te Tiriti was considered a sacred pact between iwi and Queen Victoria, I have a role to play as a kaitiaki of Te Tiriti. As a direct successor to the Crown’s signatory – our first Governor, William Hobson.
Of course the Governor-General is in fact selected by the Prime Minister of the day, acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and her Ministers and over the past 50 years each one has been born and bred in Aotearoa. Nonetheless, there remains an instinct to appeal to the Governor General as the personal representative of the sovereign as Treaty partner.
I’ve experienced the role of Governor-General as a sounding board, as someone who listens to issues of concern, and shares what they’ve learnt.
This brings me back to my travels around the motu, meeting iwi on their marae.
Just as I have juggled with the Crown as a complex idea, slippery to pin down, with so many different parts and perspectives, I’ve learned enough to understand that te ao Māori also has a rich complexity of interwoven histories, whakapapa, tikanga, ambitions, perspectives and ways of measuring success.
So these are the two complex, different worlds identified and brought together in te Tiriti .
Finding a way forward together means finding a way to bring them alongside each other, weaving strands between them in a way that creates something both stronger yet flexible.
Having represented two very different aspects of the Crown, I have a greater appreciation for the different ways it can be perceived, and how this flexibility has provided certain advantages, and will do so in the future.
Kotahitanga takes humility, courage, curiosity and respect – to move with confidence between worlds, taking our understanding of the past into our hopes for the future, along with a commitment to a relationship that benefits both parties.
I am optimistic that we are making real progress – and I am also realistic about the work that has yet to be done.
What I do see is a growing momentum for change. I believe that New Zealanders, particularly younger generations, are becoming more comfortable with difference, more prepared to say “I don’t understand, but I want to”.
And that is a start to a better, more respectful and meaningful conversation.
By the time of the bicentenary of Te Tiriti in 2040, Māori and Pasifika will constitute 30 percent of the population of Aotearoa. We will be a very different country.
If current trends continue, and I am sure they will, there will be even greater Māori representation in the various manifestations of the Crown that I outlined earlier – including in the highest political and legal offices in the motu.
That will add a new dimension to conversations between iwi and the Crown.
The Treaty Settlements made over the past 25 years will be regarded as starting points for new relationships but as part of a continuum, albeit markers for a significant swerve or increased momentum. There’ll be closer monitoring of progress with settlements and there’ll be opportunities for collaboration and true partnerships.
To me, having negotiated with six separate iwi and numerous distinct Hapū, I see the treaty settlement process as an important milestone or marker. A way in which we, the people of Aotearoa, can recognise the mana and historical and contemporary interests of each iwi, as well as acknowledging the Treaty breaches they have suffered.
It is an important step, but the process does not stop there. Nothing can remedy the breaches or restore an iwi to its stature and status at 1840, or 1865 or any other historical point in time.
For Ngāti Pūkenga, having established recognition of their kainga and their right to a place at the table, the key now is to demonstrate that leadership by working in partnership with the Crown, through central and local government and NGOs, to work for positive change for the well-being of our communities, our nation and especially our environment.
Toitū te marae a Tane
Toitū te marae a tangaroa
Toitū te tangata.
Protect and strengthen the land and the sea and they will protect and strengthen the people.
Based on my experience with Ngāti Pūkenga, I am confident that your future interactions with the Crown will come from a sharp sense of purpose, arising out of your history and whakapapa, and with a clear line of sight for what you want to achieve, and how you can get there.
I wish you every success in reaching those goals.