Waitangi Tribunal

Waitangi Tribunal unbiased? You be the judge.

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.

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30 thoughts on “Waitangi Tribunal unbiased? You be the judge.

  1. Well, I would think that they select people to sit on the Tribunal who:

    (1). Are highly experienced in Maori culture, history and protocol, to reduce the likelihood of judgments being appealed & also because the Tribunal has to regarded as an ‘expert’ in this area, so have to ensure they have the best people available, making well reasoned decisions that are robust and stand up to public scrutiny & judicial appeal;

    (2). Experienced in legal issues, especially Maori legal issues and have evidenced this through extensive litigation, research & publications; and

    (3). Can have ties to Maori culture (as one should not discriminate on race when employing people) and a thorough understanding of both European and Maori viewpoints & have an interest in this area, both in law and culture.I imagine their work should evidence their objectiveness and degree of impartiality and fairness when dealing with the legal issues.

    This would be no different to choosing the best qualified, most experienced practitioners & experts to sit on say the Intellectual Property Tribunal, Youth Court or Disputes Tribunal. They should not be discriminated against because of their race. One can only assess suitability through reviewing their experience & interests.

    To be selected for the Tribunal I imagine you would have to be one of the best in your field, there would not be a lot of suitable people available for this position. It is expected that people interested in this area of the law and culture would likely have affiliations, or ties to some Iwi.

    It would probably not be appropriate to have an experienced Commercial Lawyer/Partner specialising in Mergers & Acquisitions from a large law firm, who has no experience or interest in this area of the law/culture to be approached to sit on the Tribunal.

    They would also likely decline any such invitation to sit on such a Tribunal for a lack of interest, or because it does not fit with their long-term career goals. They would likely be invited to sit in commercial jurisdictions, relevant to their experience and interest.

    Interesting blog, got on to it thanks to being one of Mikeys *baa baa* sheep.

    Have a nice day 😉

  2. @ Baa Baa Sheep.

    It’s called the Treaty of Waitangi. It’s not called the Treaty of Maori. It is a contract for All New Zealanders, not just Maori.

    Why your assumption that the Treaty is ALL about Maori? The Treaty established rights and responsibilities for ALL New Zealanders, not just Maori.

  3. In another country, this organisation might have been called a “Truth and Reconciliation Tribunal”.

    Our Waitangi Tribunal produces the complete opposite of both.

  4. Wedge, I did not discuss the Treaty of Waitangi anywhere in my post, because it is not the point of the thread & is completely off topic.

    I have only discussed what I believe to be suitable characteristics for any candidates wanting to sit on the Waitangi Tribunal.

    I am more interested in the ***quality*** of the candidates to the Tribunal, than other factors (i.e. cultural knowledge, legal knowledge & experience, life experience & interest/passion in the area).

    I have no problem with any NZer applying to the Tribunal, but I wonder how many of them would really be interested in doing this highly specialised work on a daily basis? I would imagine its not a career path for everyone. 🙂

  5. Is the Waitangi Trib(e)unal attempting to imply that having half Maori and half non-Maori people in the industry is making things “fair”.

    Each one of these non-Maori people could just as bad if not worse than Finlayson. John Robinson’s book has already exposed so much about how the grievance industry operates.

  6. Baa Baa I find it fascinating that you would find The treaty “off topic ”
    to a discussion on the Waitangi tribunal when it is very much “on topic ”
    to so much of New Zealand life whether relevant or not

  7. Which Waitangi Tribunal recommendations have affected the division of the nation’s wealth? And did the government follow them? It doesn’t have to.

  8. In peacetime, to experience, to understand and to devote your professional life to work in another culture to the point where you are regarded as an “expert” in that culture suggests to me that you have a great love for that culture.

    I agree. And that’s fair enough.

    But don’t you see, Odakyu-sen, that’s my point exactly.

    If the Tribunal is to be seen as fair and balanced — to all cultures — shouldn’t a fair number of its members have spent their lives working — and exhibiting a great love for — the cultures of the 85% of the population that’s being asked to subsidise the other 15%?

    Is it fair to choose so many members who have so heavily immersed themselves in the minority culture?

    What does that suggest about the impartiality of their decisions?

  9. Or a bias towards the centre point between yours and it.

    In other words less biased towards your own culture through deliberate understanding of the others.

    Interesting that John omitted to list the ‘Pakeha affiliations’ of the 12 Maori representatives- Or is he suggesting that they have successfully lived their lives unblemished by the overarching culture within which they grew?

    Typical racial prejudice.

    Of course they have Pakeha affiliations. After all, racially, most so-called Maori today are mostly Pakeha.

    They’re brought up in the Maori culture, very often believe in all sincerity that they are Maori, or in some cases choose to play up their Maori side for the money.

    Look at Steve O’Regan, who I gather is a mainly Irish New Zealander. I well remember a friend of mine telling me, “I’ve known Steve since before he became a Maori”. Of course, Steve is now Sir Tipene, and I don’t think that whalebone carving round his neck is a shamrock.

    And of course the Pakeha members have Pakeha affiliations too, which I didn’t waste space listing.

    And the reason I didn’t list the Pakeha affiliations of either the Maori or Pakeha members is simple…

    I’m not accusing the Waitangi Tribunal of a pro-Pakeha bias. This is a post about an organisation whose findings are heavily biased in favour of Maori.

    Therefore I think it’s valid for me to ask, “Are the Tribunal’s members also biased in favour of Maori?”

    Now remember, non-Maori make up 85% of the population. Maori are 15%.

    And remember that the Maori-Pakeha ratio on the Tribunal is about 55-45% pro-Maori. (12-10 – you do the maths.)

    And yet 70% of the non-Maori members of the Waitangi Tribunal have profound sympathies towards the 15% of the population whose claims they’re employed to advise the government on.

    What does that suggest to you?

    To me it suggests that the answer to my question is: “Yes.”

  10. @ Sue me! Sue me

    When was the last time you saw someone like Hone present a Pakeha point of view? So why should this column have an obligation to be more equal than Maori?

    When was the last time you saw for example Matt McCarten present a European perspective on anything?

    Or more generally, why is it exclusively the preserve of Maori to present one side of the story. So in defence of this post, why are non-Maori obliged to present both sides? Why are Pakeha obliged to be more “equal” than Maori?

    In defence of this column, the host is clearly against the Maorification of everything. Do you seriously want him to Maorify his blog in deference to such assumed need of Maorification?

    Sue me, can you not see that Maori not having to Pakehafy their posts, but Europeans having to Maorify theirs, is racism on your part?

  11. ‘Now remember, non-Maori make up 85% of the population. Maori are 15%. And remember that the Maori-Pakeha ratio on the Tribunal is about 55-45% pro-Maori. (12-10 – you do the maths.)’.

    Hey, interesting quote John, the problem is the Waitangi Tribunal deals with 100% of Maori legal issues. I am of the opinion that a very small percentage of our population would be interested, experienced and qualified to deal with ‘Maori legal issues’.

    Out of that very small percentage of our population, you have to find the best, most experienced and impartial operators to make up the Waitangi Tribunal, so can you appreciate the difficulties the system has?

    Its done amazingly well to get the so called 45/55% mix you talk about, given the small pool of eligible candidates.

    I also expect appointees would have displayed years of impartiality, sound judgment and fairness in practice to get invited, otherwise the Tribunal risks a raft of appeals.

    BTW, I have no personal interest in anything **Maori**. 🙂

    Appeals? Your faith in the fairness of our government is touching, Baa Baa.

    From what I’ve seen, Non-Maori are not able to present their side of the story to the Waitangi Tribunal. The Crown generally rubber stamps the Tribunal’s findings without much challenge.

    Now I could be getting confused here with the Maori Land Court (they’re headed by the same person, wouldn’t you know it?), so I’m happy to be corrected.

  12. @Wedge:

    “When was the last time you saw someone like Hone present a Pakeha point of view? So why should this column have an obligation to be more equal than Maori?”

    I didn’t and it doesn’t.

    ‘When was the last time you saw for example Matt McCarten present a European perspective on anything?’

    Matt McCarten’s perspective on things is rarely exclusively “Maori” – of course the race puritans among you would find it hard to recognise that while very few ( if any) Maori are purely Maori, even less Europeans are pure anything….”European” as a race is about as restrictive as “Human”. It’s simply a hodgepodge of afro-indo-asiatic lines.

    “Or more generally, why is it exclusively the preserve of Maori to present one side of the story.”

    It’s not – what do these words mean Wedge? I never claimed anything like that

    ” So in defence of this post, why are non-Maori obliged to present both sides?”

    Who said they were? This isn’t a response to my post – it’s just an unconnected rant. You must be from up the obtuse end of the Wedge….

    “Why are Pakeha obliged to be more “equal” than Maori?”

    Wedgiepoos!! Where on earth did you get that from?? They aren’t obliged. Did someone suggest they were?

    “In defence of this column, the host is clearly against the Maorification of everything. Do you seriously want him to Maorify his blog in deference to such assumed need of Maorification?”

    I don’t give a flying fuck what he does with his peurile and base column – but when race-discriminatory bile is posted publicly, I’ll point out its’ prejudices. And if I can’t do it here I’ll do it elsewhere.

    “Sue me, can you not see that Maori not having to Pakehafy their posts, but Europeans having to Maorify theirs, is racism on your part?”

    It might be if I said it or thought it but I didn’t. I think there’s a little racist in your head causing static, and you can’t see facts through the red mist..

    John: “Of course they have Pakeha affiliations. After all, racially, most so-called Maori today are mostly Pakeha.”

    I think you are getting yourself inextricably entangled in the paradox of ever decreasing returns, which many racists before you have fallen victim to (read carefully before consulting lawyer). If your argument is based on racial division, and it is (see your post which lists Maori/Pakeha) then you shouldn’t undermine the whole basis by undermining the whole basis!!

    So for the last while you’ve been banging on ad nauseum regarding “Maori/fication” etc, but you don’t seem to be clear on who it refers to – yet you are very quick to threaten to sue when people are less than particular about their use of the word Racist.

    Major Hypocrite. And Racist to boot. (Mr).

    “very often believe in all sincerity” (what dreadful English!!)

  13. We adopted our judicial system from common law and it has its roots in English law John.

    The Waitangi Tribunal is part of the New Zealand judicial system John 🙂

    Its role is inquisitorial rather than adversarial and it mostly makes recommendations rather than binding rulings (as opposed to a Court).

    Its a transparent procedure: http://www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/claims/

    Given the Tribunal is set up to deal with alleged breaches of the Crowns obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi, it has a very narrow focus between Crown and Maori only. The crown can challenge such claims.

    Non-Maori are not party to proceedings between Crown & Maori, why would they be. If effected, they would likely be called by the Crown or Tribunal as a witness to the proceedings. Can’t have the judicial system bogged down with vexatious & frivolous litigants now can we.

    So Maori claims are being resolved in a judicial system that has its roots in English law – lol. Oh, life is so unfair 😉

  14. From the stone age to the Bar of the Highest Court in the World – in just 150 years!!!

    Oh the irony!!!!

    It must be painful to think you are the ejaculate of some SupahDupah home Countries Race, and that the savages took only 150 years to beat your system by simply exploiting your own rules!!!

  15. “So Maori claims are being resolved in a judicial system that has its roots in English law – lol. Oh, life is so unfair”

    …<>…

    Let’s play that again: “Maori claimed are being resolved…”

  16. Baa baa noted: So Maori claims are being resolved in a judicial system that has its roots in English law – lol. Oh, life is so unfair”

    (insert sound of needle being scraped across a vinyl record)

    Let’s play that again: “Maori claimes are being resolved…”

  17. Did I hear that right?
    Baa baa noted: So Maori claims are being resolved in a judicial system that has its roots in English law – lol. Oh, life is so unfair”

    (insert sound of needle being scraped across a vinyl record)

    Let’s play that again: “Maori claims are being resolved…”

    There, that should do it…

  18. Needle/vinyl seems to have got stuck. Lots of bile in comments here, and though I’m named, I try not to rise to flamebait any more.

    BTW, Odakyu-sen, I have ridden on the Odakyu line from Shinjuku-Eki

  19. Yep. There’s no EDIT function on this board. My point was that it can take a long time for things to be “put right.” During such a process, there is a potential conflict of interest in that the people who are part of the process are also paid for their role in it. Where is the incentive for the process to be brought to a close?
    Where were you going on the Odakyu Line? Machida? Or maybe down to Fujisawa? (I only took the branch out to Odawara once, and that was a looooong ride.)
    Incidently, the Japanese are the Pakeha of Japan (despite having lived on the main islands for over 5,000 years). (The Ainu are the indigenous people, according to the Greens, the UN and other groups). So I guess it doesn’t really matter how many years you’ve been living anywhere–the trick is to a) be there first, and b) be marginalized by a more successful culture. That way you can be a nice pawn to parties who want to bring down the culture of the newcomers a peg or two (for whatever reason). (But I am getting way off topic.)

  20. No – the trick is to be overtaken by a girl called Wikitoria who regretted the past mistakes of colonisation – who had seen the inhumanity and suffering perpetrated in her name in places like Eire, India, Africa and even Australia, and who wanted a better way for the people subjected to her next corporate takeover. The trick is to sign a treaty with her government giving you equal rights to design the future of your country with your fellow newly arrived citizens.

    The downfall is that her crown agents decide that her way is not really the way they want to do things – that equality means ‘know your place’, and that fair treatment means ‘fair as long as we get everything we want’, and that’s exactly what they did – thinking to themselves that they could report back that all was well but the ‘natives, the savages do not understand our sophisticated ways and are getting restless’.

    And the new trick is to take their sophisticated ways and use them to force a new understanding upon them of what real equality feels like.

    Maori were NOT GIVEN EQUALITY, and now that they have been given it (albeit so reluctantly) their representative bodies are using it to REDRESS THE IMBALANCE WHICH STILL EXISTS.
    The fact that most Pakeha are so arrogant in their self belief of superiority over others that they refuse to accept other paradigms of culture and society will be to their cost.

    It has already cost this country billions – not to redress the imbalance, but to push the case uphill against the racial intransigence of many who cling to the fallacy that “everything was okay when I was young – the Maori were happy, we were friends and we shared a pint – there were no problems – until this Treaty shit started.”

    Everything was not okay – there was no representative Maori voice, no representative Maori powerbase, no representative Maoris in the Civil service, particularly in management, bugger all the universities – in fact life was generally shit for the vast majority of Maori.

    All the institutions of this country were direct transports of mother England (health,government,justice), were absolutely cultural anathema to Maori (as their institutions of justice and education etc would certainly have been to the Europeans) and yet there was nil effort whatsoever to assimilate or change this foreign culture to make it more amenable to the tangata whenua, until that is – the treaty was finally invoked.

    The real cost to this country has come from pakeha in our midst who for generations have turned a blind eye to the obvious, or indeed have aggressively maintained the status quo – all the while thinking it would never come to a head. Well it has done, and it always would do, and the real guilt lies with the bigots in the past and the racists of today who wrap arguments around the truth – that their whole stand can be summed up so simply ..” Bloody Maori”.

  21. @ Sue !! Sue!! Sue!!!

    So why did Maori ancestors ask repeatedly to become British?

    And why do you have such disrespect for those ancestors who made a decision which they believed at the time to have been in your best interests?

    So you don’t like British government departments. Tough, it’s what Maori ancestors asked for believing it to be in your best interests. You don’t agree. Go sort it out with your ancestors.

    Rewriting history will solve nothing.

    That’s pretty much what Apirana Ngata said to his own people in, I think, 1922.

  22. John, FWIW, on this blog, you don’t tag your host comments other than by italics. On my post #24 above for example, it looks to someone not knowing your blog ways, like “the Wedge” finished his (my) post with “That’s pretty much what Apirana Ngata …” which would completely change the intent of the post if anyone were to read it that way.

    That said, I didn’t know Sir Apirana had said that, but I’m flattered to be placed in such massively esteemed company.

  23. “So why did Maori ancestors ask repeatedly to become British?”

    I guess they thought it would be the best deal….and they were right

    “And why do you have such disrespect for those ancestors who made a decision which they believed at the time to have been in your best interests?”

    a) I’ve shown no disrespect. b) They certainly weren’t my ancestors. c) It wasn’t in any way in my interest, best or otherwise. You must be confusing me for someone else.

    “So you don’t like British government departments.”

    Wrong again Wedge – you’ve simply pulled that out of your own brain. I think those departments were almost miraculous to Maori, but they were culturally alien. That’s what I said.

    “Tough, it’s what Maori ancestors asked for believing it to be in your best interests.”

    Again, I am almost certain I do not have any Maori ancestors. Positive. And I’m pretty sure they asked for protection in the form of citizenship, which is what they got – and yet you seem to think they are lesser citizens than you are – that they shoudn’t ask for change to suit them. THat’s a bit apartheidy of you.

    “You don’t agree. Go sort it out with your ancestors.”

    Just because I don’t share your view doesn’t make me a Maori, Wedge – – You need to take a hard look at what underpins your prejudice. I’m as european as they come !!

    “Rewriting history will solve nothing.”

    Hey – You are the one who entirely rewrote my post!!!

  24. Interesting debate. Michael Bassett wrote a good article on his website about how the Waitangi tribunal basically only listens to the claimants side of the story then makes recommendations on whatever the claimants have said happened. There is no counter argument.It’s like going to court and the judge only listening to the prosecution evidence.Although the tribunal is not a court any form of tribunal or hearing needs to have balance. It is obvious the Waitangi tribunal doesn’t.Oh and Odadyu-sen and The wedge,I currently live on the Odakyu line near Machida!

  25. Machida-sen. Amazingly small world. To answer the earlier Odakyu-sen question … A number of separate weekend outings from Tokyo. a) to climb Fuji-san: b) on the way to Shimoda via Odawara-eki as I recall: c) doing the Hakone circuit. So never quite at Machida but within spitting distance each time.

  26. And the reason I didn’t list the Pakeha affiliations of either the Maori or Pakeha members is simple…

    I’m not accusing the Waitangi Tribunal of a pro-Pakeha bias.

    And that about sums up the research method that creates a blog like this one.

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