Is the Waitangi Tribunal stacked to produce pro-Maori findings?
According to its website:
The Tribunal is a permanent commission of inquiry charged with making recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown, which breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi.The Tribunal comprises up to 20 members… Approximately half the members are Māori and half are Pākehā
Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
But actually the present Tribunal has 22 members — 12 Maori, 10 Pakeha. As they say, approximately equal.
But now let’s take a closer look at those 10 Pakeha members.
It seems only three do not have clear affiliations to Maori in some way.
I list the Maori credentials of the other 7 Pakeha below. You may find them interesting.
You may wonder whether Pakeha so steeped in Maori culture are likely to produce a finding that’s fair to all New Zealanders.
You may find that the true Maori-Pakeha ratio is not 12-10 at all, but more like 19-3.
Approximately equal? I don’t think so.
Now ideally, all members should view all evidence with no hint of bias. A Waitangi Tribunal member with an interest in Maori culture should be no different from a rugby referee from the home team’s country.
But of course nowadays they have neutral refs. They do that because of a number of questionable decisions in the past that favoured the home team.
Shouldn’t the same apply when deciding on matters which affect the division of a nation’s wealth?
Waitangi Tribunal members 2011
12 Maori members
Chief Judge Wilson Isaac, Judge Stephanie Milroy, Dr Aroha Harris, Professor Sir Hirini Moko Mead, Kihi Ngatai, Josepth Northover, Professor Pou Temara, Keita Walker, Dr Ranginui Walker, Professor Sir Tamati Reedy, Tania Simpson, Dr Monty Souter.
7 Pakeha members with obvious Maori affiliations
Let’s look at these Maori affiliations:
Tim Castle, barrister.
- Student at Te Kawa a Maui in 2003. Completed Māori 101, having taken tuition in Te Reo Māori.
- Counsel for the NZ fishing industry when effective injunctions were secured by Māori to introduce the quota management system.
- Advocating for Māori on a wide range of Treaty issues and the kaupapa of Te Ao Māori.
- Counsel for the fishing industry in the High Court and Court of Appeal Māori fisheries litigation.
- Counsel for the fishing industry for the Tribunal inquiries into the Muriwhenua and Ngai Tahu fisheries claims.
- Legal counsel for the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.
- Advised on Māori customary and commercial fishing rights and interests.
- Counsel for Māori in their claims before the Waitangi Tribunal.
- Counsel for Maori before the Māori Land Court and the Māori Appellate Court.
- Advised the parliamentary select committee on the Māori Fisheries Bill 2003.
- Advised the parliamentary select committee on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill 2004.
- Negotiated significant Treaty settlements for iwi including Taranaki Whanui/Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga, and the Māori aquaculture settlement.
- Published dispute resolution protocols for fisheries allocation for Māori.
- Took part in the first Te Papa annual Treaty debates in 2003–04.
Dr Angela Ballara, historian.
- Authority on Māori customary history.
- Written papers for the Journal of the Polynesian Society.
- Member of the team producing the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and Nga Tangata Taumata Rau. Responsible for the Māori side to this project.
- Books include Taua: ‘Musket Wars’, ‘Land Wars’ or Tikanga? – Warfare in Māori Society in the Early Nineteenth Century (2003); Iwi: The Dynamics of Māori Tribal Organisation, c1769–c1945 (1998), and Proud to be White? A Study of Racial Prejudice in New Zealand (1986).
- Academic qualifications include a COP in Māori Studies.
Robyn Anderson, historian.
- Prepared evidence for the return of railways land to Wellington Māori.
- Researched projects for the Waitangi Tribunal and for claimants from the Hauraki, Kaipara, and Whanganui districts.
- Led research and exhibitions for the history and Pacific cultures sections of Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand).
- Preparing an historical overview report on the history of Tongariro National Park for the Tribunal’s National Park inquiry.
- Assisting the Wairarapa ki Tararua Tribunal as a consultant historian.
Dr Ann Parsonson, historian.
- Has been a research associate at the Centre for Māori Studies and Research, University of Waikato.
- Helped Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Iwi o Taranaki, and Waikato iwi prepare their Treaty claims.
- Written on Māori history and Treaty history.
- Was a member of the Turanga Tribunal.
- Sitting on the Urewera and Central North Island Tribunals.
Dr Richard Hill, historian.
- His book State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy(2004) examines the history of Crown–Māori relations.
- Professor of New Zealand Studies at the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.
- Director of the Victoria University Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit.
- Worked in the Treaty of Waitangi resolution processes during the pioneering negotiations in the late 1980s.
Sir Douglas Kidd, former politician.
- Former Minister of Māori Affairs.
John Baird, former managing director.
- Studying for a bachelor of arts in Māori Studies.
UPDATE: in response to a fair point made by a commenter, I should note that the above are just the Maori affiliations of the Pakeha members.
I don’t mean to imply that either they or the Maori members don’t also have Pakeha affiliations.
(Any more than I mean to disguise the Maori affiliations of the Maori members, which I also haven’t bothered to list.)
Of course they do.
But this is a post about pro-Maori bias, not pro-Pakeha bias.
My point is simply that these seven Pakeha members descend from the 85% of New Zealanders who are not Maori.
Yet they have a high degree of fascination with the Maori culture, practised by only 15%.
And that would be absolutely fine.
Except that they’re employed to advise a government that’s meant to represent 100% of New Zealanders, not just 15%.
Can they be relied upon to be fair to the other 85%?
Or must that job be left to these three:
3 Pakeha members with no obvious Maori affiliations
Dame Margaret Bazley, Joanne Morris, Basil Morrison.
I’ll be having much more to say about the Waitangi Tribunal in the coming days. Outside South Africa, the word apartheid has never seemed so apt.