As of last week, Tuhoe thought they had a deal with the government. The centre-piece of the agreement was vesting parts of the Te Urewera National Park, the Tuhoe homeland, with Tuhoe. The land would have been continued to be administered as a national park, with public access, but it would have been owned by the people who justly own it.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson was to take the deal to Cabinet for sign off and the deal would be announced at a hui on Friday. But at the National Lower North Island conference over the weekend, the Nats realised a larger chunk of their base are hicks, anti-Maori and increasingly pissed off hicks.
What was John Key to do? The right thing by a people whose land was stolen from them? Or the thing that would best help his poll ratings? No choice. Late Sunday, Key pulled the Tuhoe deal from the Cabinet agenda.
Here is an iwi that has negotiated with the Crown in good faith and made a deal, only for National to let its short-term political interests override it. There’s no excuse. Sure, Key has a list of ‘reasons’ why returning the land to Tuhoe is a bad idea but the fact is he was all for it until the weekend when he got the hard word from the hicks.
Tariana Turia is rightly outraged. She says that by acting in bad faith, National has created a new grievance when its meant to be resolving an old one. So, what is Turia going to do about it? More empty bluster, then back to the Crown limo?
Another case of National making big promises to Maori and failing to deliver.
[on a side issue, yup Tuhoe didn’t sign the Treaty but that’s not relevant. The Crown’s actions were immoral and illegal under its own law. Redress is due, whether or not you think the Treaty matters. That’s true of all compensation claims]