New Zealand Law Society - Māori Affairs Committee supports Parihaka Reconciliation Bill

Māori Affairs Committee supports Parihaka Reconciliation Bill

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Parliament's Māori Affairs Committee has released a report on Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka / Parihaka Reconciliation Bill and recommends that it be passed with amendments.

The bill was referred to the committee on 22 March 2018. The committee received and considered 39 submissions from interested groups and individuals and heard oral evidence from 23 submitters at hearings in Parihaka and Wellington. The committee received advice from the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti.

Parihaka is a small rural community in South Taranaki. It was the centre of non-violent protest against the large-scale land confiscations that took place in Taranaki in the mid-1860s.

It is known for the Crown’s attempt to destroy the Parihaka community and the peaceful legacy of its leaders Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti ō Rongomai. Historical Treaty of Waitangi claims that relate to Parihaka have been settled (or will be in the case of Ngāti Maru) through comprehensive Treaty settlements in the Taranaki region.

Because of the special place Parihaka occupies in Taranaki and New Zealand, the Crown has committed to reconciling its relationship directly with the Parihaka community.

This bill records elements of Te Kawenata ō Rongo, the deed of reconciliation signed on 9 June 2017 in which the Crown and the Parihaka community agree to reconcile their relationship. The bill includes only those elements of the deed that the Crown and Parihaka agree should be recorded in legislation to improve understanding of the history of Parihaka and preserve the commitment made by the Crown and Parihaka to a new relationship.

It records the apology of the Crown to Parihaka and the legacy statement by the Parihaka community. Both of these are also contained within the deed.

The bill in dual languages

The bill is in both English and te reo Māori. One submission commented on the structure of this bilingual bill and noted the importance of including the meaning of the word “haeata”, as it forms part of the bill’s title.

The committee recommends amending clause 2A to define “haeata” as literally meaning “dawn” and representing the reconciliation of the relationship between the Crown and the Parihaka community.

Strengthening the link between the deed and the bill

Some submitters expressed concern that certain reconciliation initiatives provided for in the deed are not contained in the bill. They want to ensure that the Crown continues to meet its commitments under the deed.

In response to these concerns, the committee recommends amending the bill to list the reconciliation initiatives included in the deed. These are the Parihaka–Crown Leaders Forum, Te Huanga ō Rongo (the relationship agreement), and the Parihaka Fund.

Concern over a lack of consultation by the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust (PPT) about the reconciliation process

One submitter did not support the PPT and alleged that the Parihaka community were not consulted at Toroanui Marae. The committee considers that the PPT consulted extensively with the Parihaka community throughout the reconciliation process, including holding around the country to discuss the proposed reconciliation package. The PPT provided regular updates to the Office of Treaty Settlements (now the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti) about engagement with the Parihaka community in relation to the reconciliation process.

Considering whether legislation is appropriate in the reconciliation process

This concern relates to past Crown actions, including the enactment of legislation, which harmed the Parihaka community.

The PPT specifically asked the Parihaka community if it considered a bill to be necessary in order to acknowledge and secure the Crown’s commitment to Parihaka. Ninety-three percent of participants were supportive of a bill.

Some submitters requested that stronger language be used to emphasise how these historical Acts harmed the Parihaka community.

The committee recommends that clause 3A(1) be amended with stronger language to appropriately describe the impacts and consequences of the Crown’s actions that were empowered by these Acts.

Protecting the Parihaka name

Some submissions sought amendments to protect the names Parihaka, Tohu Kākahi, and Te Whiti ō Rongomai, the history of Parihaka, and its legacy.

The committee recommends inserting clause 3B to protect against the commercial exploitation of the name Parihaka (including registration of trademarks and company names, and other uses in trade) without the authorisation of the PPT. The amendment aims to prevent unauthorised commercial exploitation and would not limit artistic and political freedom of expression.

Acknowledging the Parihaka community’s authorship of the Legacy Statement

The committee recommends including a statement in Schedule 2 which further emphasises the special connection of the Parihaka community with the place.

This statement clarifies that the community wrote the Legacy Statement (which summarises the origins of the Parihaka community and its principles, describes its history, and sets out its aspirations for the future).