In his Waitangi Day speech, Prime Minister John Key reflects on what the government has done for Maori and acknowledges there’s still work to do:
E nga Rangatira
E tau nei ki Waitangi
Tena tatau katoa
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Waitangi Day is a special day for New Zealanders. It’s a day when we reflect on the history of our young country, and it’s a day when we think about what we want for New Zealand’s future.
We come together here each year to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Treaty is more than a document which created a new nation.
The settlement process which springs from the Treaty gives iwi the ability to move beyond seeking redress for past wrongs and instead look forward to seizing future opportunities.
I’m pleased to say virtually all iwi willing and able to settle, are engaged with the Crown.
That’s a big achievement.
And it has been the fruit of a lot of hard work since we came into government in 2008.
During that time, we have worked constructively with our partners, including the Māori Party, to help Māori succeed across a number of areas, like the settlement process.
But we have also seen Māori success bloom in educational achievement and industry training, and we are seeing better health outcomes.
The Māori Party has played a large part in this. And I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to my Ministerial colleagues, Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, for their unstinting and passionate work. They will leave an enduring legacy following their move away from politics.
The Maori Party has brought a rich dimension to this Government for two terms.
Their say in the governance of our country is one of the reasons why the Crown and iwi have met so many goals together over the past five years.
Together with the Māori Party, we have lifted Maori participation in early childhood education to over 92 per cent. That means the vast majority of Māori children are entering primary school with a solid foundation for learning.
Under this Government, more Māori children are staying in school longer, and gaining NCEA level 2, than ever before.
We are pouring money into Māori and Pasifika trades training – $43 million last year. And our Youth Guarantee provides fees-free places for 16- to 19-year-olds to study at tertiary institutions, and at trades and services academies.
And of the 9,000 Youth Guarantee places available last year, around 4,000 went to Māori.
More Māori are coming out of wānaga, polytechs and universities with bachelor’s degrees or higher, so they are well-placed to move into better, higher-paying jobs.
It’s a similar story in health.
Together with the Māori Party, we have almost doubled the immunisation rate for Māori two-year-olds. It’s now over 90 per cent, up from 59 per cent in 2007.
We have made visits to the doctor free for under-sixes.
And nearly one in three New Zealanders – including many Māori – can now go to the doctor at a reduced rate.
Our economy is gathering steam.
We’ve got one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world. Last year, 17,000 people came off a benefit.
And each week, 1500 New Zealanders come off a benefit and get a job.
That brings me to Māori economic development.
The centrepiece of our work on Māori economic development is reforming Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.
The Ministry of Primary Industries has estimated that, if we can make this land work for Māori, it will be worth up to $8 billion for the Māori economy and will create at least 4000 jobs over the next 10 years.
Given those incredible possibilities, it’s well worth the effort.
Together with the Māori Party, we have worked constructively with the Iwi Leaders Group on issues like freshwater and the Resource Management Act.
We don’t always agree on everything, but we do have a shared sense of purpose and we have mutual respect.
And for the past five years iwi have presented a range of commercial proposals to government, ranging from their interest in purchasing part of Housing New Zealand’s housing portfolio, to investing in major infrastructure developments, and buying shares in the Government’s share offers.
So I am proud of what this National-led Government, with the support of the Māori Party, has achieved for iwi.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
The Treaty settlement process has been accelerated under this Government
And it’s happened because we believe it is in everyone’s interests to increase the pace of that process.
We came into office in 2008 saying that we would do our very best to secure just and durable Treaty settlements by 2014. That date was not a deadline but a best endeavours goal.
Since National embedded the Treaty settlement process, 67 deeds of settlement have been signed and our Government has signed 41 of these in the past five years.
That’s a remarkable acceleration of the pace the process was lumbering along at when we came to office in 2008.
At that time, it was calculated that if settlements continued at the rate at which they were then occurring – which was 1.6 settlements a year – we’d still be signing them in 2048.
Progress since 2008
So let me highlight some of our achievements over the past five years.
I want to start off with Ngāti Haua. In 2008, there had been no negotiations with that iwi.
We have now concluded a deed of settlement with Ngāti Haua, and I want to mention them because of what they have achieved.
Some of their representatives told Bill English and Chris Finlayson that they wanted to negotiate their deed of settlement within six months.
No-one believed it was possible. But it happened – under this government.
Let’s look at iwi a little further south of here.
In Tāmaki Makaurau through to Hauraki, nothing was happening when we came into office.
In 2006 the Crown had been severely criticised by the Waitangi Tribunal for the way it had negotiated the Ngāti Whātua o Orakei settlement.
Everything was on hold.
So we started negotiations throughout the entire rohe from Tāmaki through to Hauraki. We have now signed deeds of settlement with three iwi, as well as the Tāmaki Collective settlement.
Later in the year, we intend to have signed deeds of settlement with another Tāmaki iwi, as well as with at least 11 of the 12 Hauraki iwi and two collective agreements.
In the Waikato, the much-heralded Waikato River deed had been signed with Waikato-Tainui when we came into office.
But it was a flawed negotiation and we had to start it again.
We re-signed with Waikato-Tainui and concluded settlements with Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Maniapoto in relation to the Waipa River.
When we came into office, the Whanganui River negotiation was going nowhere, having been unilaterally stopped by the Crown under the previous government.
So we started working very hard to negotiate a river settlement with Whanganui iwi, and we hope to initial a deed of settlement this month.
In 2008, terms of negotiation had been signed with Ngāi Tuhoe but that was the extent of it.
This has been a hugely significant negotiation – and the deed of settlement was signed last year.
I expect the legislation will be passed through its final stages in the next few months.
My government is very proud of this settlement with Ngāi Tuhoe.
Let’s move on to Tauranga. Again, it was the same story – nothing was happening when we came into office.
But we have now signed deeds of settlement with three iwi in the region. Further negotiations are underway with a view to securing the signing of the collective settlement.
This government has now negotiated all the deeds of settlement with the iwi at the top of the South Island. Settlement legislation giving effect to those deeds will be passed by Parliament within the next month.
And that’s not all.
The Crown has settled with several iwi on the East Coast of the North Island.
Taranaki iwi have picked up the challenge and we are on the verge of signing deeds of settlement with three iwi there.
And we are negotiating with iwi throughout Central Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and the Chatham Islands.
More deeds of settlement will be signed, and more Treaty legislation passed, before the year is out.
So I am proud to stand by our record on Treaty settlements.
Among those settled iwi, a new generation has been freed from a legacy that has been handed down for decades – in some cases, more than 100 years.
They can pursue their future with vigour.
With settlement comes new leverage and a new status.
Great success stories are emerging from those who see the post-settlement environment as a chance to get on with the exciting, challenging and ultimately satisfying business of running their affairs in their own rohe.
Major players in both the public and private sectors want to form relationships with iwi authorities.
The investment decisions of settled iwi have the potential to create wealth, jobs and opportunity for iwi and their communities – and also for other New Zealanders and the wider economy.
That is just as it should be, and I would like to see more of those benefits flow into the economy up here, in the Far North.
So what has been happening here, in this part of the country?
In Te Hiku, negotiations were at a very early stage when we came to office. We have now concluded three out of the four deeds of settlement after almost four years of negotiation.
Tomorrow, Chris Finlayson will be at Cape Reinga signing a deed of settlement with Ngāti Kuri.
There has not yet been a settlement with Ngāti Kahu, but their position will be preserved while they decide whether they want to negotiate or walk away. The choice is theirs.
So now we come to Ngapuhi.
Together, we have made great progress. But there is still work to do.
This region needs economic stimulus. The Government is putting a lot of effort in, by encouraging minerals exploration, investing in agribusiness and by improving transport links.
However, the biggest injection will come when all iwi here willing and able to settle, do so. Iwi will be financially empowered. Several hundred million dollars would be injected into the local economy.
As an example, look at what Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu have done with their settlements.
Since those two iwi settled in 1995 and 1998 respectively, both iwi have grown their initial settlements of $170 million each into assets worth a total of over $700 million.
Throughout the country, iwi and hapu are discovering what they can achieve post-settlement. And the possibilities are empowering.
So I am very ambitious to see an agreement in principle with Ngapuhi signed this year. The Ministers of Maori Affairs and Treaty Negotiations will make a decision on a mandate very soon.
It is time for Ngapuhi to put aside their personal differences and unite to focus on the big prize.
A settlement will provide Ngapuhi the opportunity to play a key role in developing Northland and its economy.
My challenge to all Ngapuhi today is this: put aside your differences, look to the future, embrace the challenges that are before you.
The Crown is ready and willing to negotiate with whoever you choose as your representatives.
Get stuck into negotiations with energy and enthusiasm. I am keen to see the financial and commercial redress agreed this year, at least in principle.
If that can be done then I am prepared to look at some form of payment on account to incentivise people to act in a positive and progressive manner.
It’s all very well to reach Treaty settlements and say we can move on together. But governments will be judged not just by how they negotiate settlements but by whether they honour them, not only tomorrow but 25 years in the future.
We see settlements as establishing a new relationship between the Crown and Māori, as we move into a post-settlement environment.
For example, in the various settlements with Te Hiku iwi, a social accord was signed.
So, too, with Ngāti Whare. Under their deed of settlement, we are working with them on social issues.
These types of social accords show why Treaty settlements are worth the effort. It’s not just about money and commercial opportunities: it is also about establishing a new relationship with the Crown.
These arrangements also send a strong signal that the Crown understands it can’t solve Māori socio-economic disparity on its own.
The Crown needs to work more effectively to target its resources to Māori needs, and it is prepared to change the way it works with iwi and Māori community groups to achieve this.
This is the major challenge for both the Crown and Māori in what will soon be a fully- fledged post-settlement environment.
That’s why Chris Finlayson established a dedicated office to monitor settlements and ensure that all government departments honour the obligations undertaken by the Crown.
The Crown must keep its commitments.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
We should never forget the thread of generosity of spirit that runs through Māori history, from the arrival of Europeans through to the present day.
Māori welcomed settlers. They signed the Treaty of Waitangi in good faith. That led to the nation we now live in. And that’s what we remember every year on February 6.
That generosity of spirit persists. Settlements represent a fraction of what was actually lost. However, they let iwi move on and make a better future for their people. That is a better future for all of us.
So to Ngapuhi, I say: Let’s embrace that future.
Let’s work together to develop an enduring settlement, and one that will benefit your people for generations to come.
Northland is one of the poorest regions in the country.
Ngapuhi has been given a challenge. If they accept it and work constructively to conclude their Treaty settlement they will be able to help themselves and their region.
Settlements in other areas have shown what can be achieved and the sooner they settle the sooner they’ll be able to stop looking backwards, start looking forwards and move from grievance to growth as others have.