Tribunal releases part V of report into Te Rohe Pōtae claims

The Waitangi Tribunal has found Treaty breaches in its report on Te Rohe Pōtae health, education, and te reo Māori claims.

Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi have led to long-term and ongoing poor health and well-being outcomes for many Māori in Te Rohe Pōtae (King Country), the Waitangi Tribunal has found.

The Tribunal today released pre-publication versions of two chapters comprising part V of Te Mana Whatu Ahuru: Report on Te Rohe Pōtae Claims. This follows the release of parts I to IV between September 2018 and December 2019. The report addresses 277 claims concerning Crown actions in Te Rohe Pōtae after the Treaty was signed on 6 February 1840.

Part V concludes the report’s general discussion of the Treaty relationship in the district and the effects of the Te Ōhākī Tapu agreements between Te Rohe Pōtae Māori and the Crown by addressing claims related to health, alcohol consumption and control, socio-economic conditions, education, and the use and development of te reo Māori. As discussed in earlier parts of this report, the Te Ōhākī Tapu agree­ments (1883–85) promised to give local effect to the Crown’s Treaty guarantee to preserve Māori authority (rangatiratanga) and control over their lands and affairs (their mana whakahaere).

The evidence reviewed in part V of the report details numerous instances in which the Crown’s actions and omissions fell short of the Te Ōhākī Tapu agreements and the Treaty duties and responsibilities that they embodied. Ultimately, the long-term and ongoing poor health and well-being outcomes of many Te Rohe Pōtae Māori reveal the severe impact of the Crown’s past Treaty breaches.

The Tribunal has found that Crown policies relating to land contributed to the erosion of the economic and resource base that could otherwise have been drawn upon to provide for Te Rohe Pōtae Māori experiencing hardship. As a result, Māori were disadvantaged within the local economy, earned less than other groups in the population, had worse health and lower quality housing, migrated away from the district out of necessity, had an often-fragile hold on employment, and for many years were unable to exert social autonomy over the health and well-being of their communities, including on matters such as alcohol use and regulation.

In the areas of education and te reo Māori, the evidence has also shown a pronounced gap between the promises of the Treaty and the Te Ōhākī Tapu agreements and the experiences of the claimants and their tūpuna. In particular, the Tribunal has found that the declining use of te reo Māori in the inquiry district throughout much of twentieth century is clearly linked to the large-scale alienation of Te Rohe Pōtae Māori land and the associated erosion of Māori mana whakahaere, customary ways of life, and social organisation, as well as the spread of State-administered native and board schooling throughout the district.

For much of the twentieth century, Government-directed education in Te Rohe Pōtae prioritised assimilative goals over the retention of te reo Māori and cultural practices, sometimes using physical punishment as an informal tool of coercion. These deficiencies are symptoms of a larger Crown failure to ensure that Māori parents had the opportunity for meaningful input into their children’s education through fair representation on school governance bodies and at the district level. Evidence before the Tribunal also highlighted a range of other discriminatory Crown policies, actions, and omissions that have contributed to educational inequity. Though improved in certain respects, the pattern of inequity discussed in this part of the report continues to a significant degree in the high level of educational disadvantage many Te Rohe Pōtae Māori suffer to this day.

The remaining chapters of this report will address geographically specific claims relating to particular takiwā (subregions) of Te Rohe Pōtae.

Part V of Te Mana Whatu Ahuru: Report on Te Rohe Pōtae Claims is now available to download:

Te Mana Whatu Ahuru: Report on Te Rohe Pōtae Claims, Part V – Pre-publication Version [PDF, 2.1Mb](external link)

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