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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mana: Treaty settlement policy

The end point of the Mana Party's draft Treaty settlement policy is constitutional transformation. Now I take that to mean: transformed so the Treaty is superceded and all the Treaty Settlement infrastructure isn't needed anymore - post-settlement. At that point Maori and their institutions and rights etc. will be normal (and not "special" as Pakeha usually think of it nowadays) and the Crown will be brought back to compliance with the Waitangi Treaty (ie. 'Honouring the Treaty') and it becomes the basis for the new constitutional order. That's the way it should happen. It is far from a straight forward course at the present moment, but this draft policy goes further in spelling it out than Labour ever would:

Treaty Settlements

The purpose of the Treaty settlements system is to justly settle Crown breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. A suite of policy changes is needed to ensure claims lodged under the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 are settled more justly.

Mana Party policy priorities are to:

* Remove the Deadline for lodging of claims which was imposed for 1 September 2008 and extend the time frame for the settlement of historical claims with the Waitangi Tribunal to better enable iwi with such claims to properly research and state their cases.
[This is necessary because the government is trying to rush the process and cut people off, punishing them for their lack of resources and compounding the injustice.]

* Increase resourcing of the Waitangi Tribunal so that it is better able to hear and expedite the settlement of claims in a fair and timely manner.

* Expand the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal to make binding recommendations in certain cases.
[It's a matter of what is the Tribunal best at doing - digesting academic correspondence, rendering decisions, resolving issues between Maori and the Crown? If they are competent to make binding recommendations then on who - government or also on others? If it is binding there will also need to be an appeal corridor too. ]

* Increase the value of settlements to iwi by introducing a graduated system of settlement rather than a one-off settlement package. This would replace the current “full-and-final” settlement system and would enable the Crown to justly settle claims over time.
[This will be welcome to those Iwi having difficulty internally agreeing on everything needed for a global package - so it may be helpful. There may be issues here with a future Minister of Finance being responsible for blowing out the Crown's $1 billion fiscal envelope enshrined in the ratchet clauses of the Tainui and Ngai Tahu deals of the 90s, but no government is officially acknowledging it as a problem because it is such a piddling amount in the scheme of a budget of dozens of billions - and Mana would reject a limitation on principle in any case.]

* Establish an independent Treaty of Waitangi Commission, where the Commissioner is elected by Māori voters at general elections. A key role of the Commission would be to oversee the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal and the negotiations of the Office of Treaty Settlements to better protect the rights of iwi claimants.
[Interesting, one commissioner or one per electorate? This negotiation role seems like another blasted layer of bureaucracy, but it is crucial to ensure fairness. Some idea like this is welcome, although I think a third party (or process like the international court of arbitration etc.) would act as a better honest broker. An outside mechanism is needed because the government and their TPK and OTS and MoJ and so on are agents of the Crown and are not impartial.]

* Prioritise the return of Crown owned lands including those held by State Owned Enterprises where there are proven claims over those lands in keeping with the maxim “Me riro whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai”.
['Land banking' is already underway in some confiscation areas so that the tribe will end up with something, but it isn't much because all the agencies of government are selling and transferring land out of the public domain all the time - and Acts like the Foreshore and Seabed are a continuing confiscation.]

* Ensure that the texts of He Whakaputanga o Ngā Rangatiratanga o Niu Tireni and Te Tiriti o Waitangi are the reference points in settlement dealings between iwi and the Crown, and not the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
[Act would actually agree with Mana on the principles bit anyway - wishy washy mush dreamt up by a judge to excuse the Crown from actually following the letter of the Treaty. It says what it says and it doesn't need a layer of judges and then bureaucrats and then politicians to try to put their spin on it so as to water it down for Maori and let the NZ government still do whatever they like. And the declaration of independence - before the Treaty - is in too. This is very good move - it will inform everyone that the spine in the Treaty comes from an earlier Mana Motuhake from Maori.]

* Abolish Crown appointment of brokers and facilitators to effect settlements, and ensure iwi have the capacity to select their own leaders and appoint their own advisers without Crown interference.
[Government interference and conflict of interests in the process - and of course their ultimate interference and conflict of interest by having constructed the process itself as the only one available to Maori - is pervasive. For that reason an outside party may be in a better position to be trusted. So this policy is a good start and can be applied to engagement with the third party (rather than continue entertaining the Crown's own games and sideshows).]

* Begin a process to settle the way in which political and legal power is structured in Aotearoa New Zealand. Settlement must include meaningful constitutional transformation.
[And on this score the Maori Party - of which Hone was a member until earlier this year - has got National to agree to a constitutional korero. That conversation will start soon as the Maori Party will want to use it as a policy win for them in the campaign. It will be overwhelmed utterly by the MMP debate most likely, so to cut through Mana will have to offer more than the conversation itself, a constitutional solution of their own.]

It's pretty dry, it's pretty moderate, it's prescriptions conventional and minimalist, but it's a good starting point for policy and I expect it may get more "radical" in tone and substance once it gets to the end of the process.



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