How “partnership” can shape relationships between councils and tribes – and the establishment of race-based grants

A new trough was brought to our attention this morning, although ethnicity will limit the numbers of eligible applicants.

If you are non-Maori, it looks like you shouldn’t bother getting into the queue – but who knows?

We learned of the trough from the Scoop website, where the Kapiti Coast District Council has posted its invitation to line up for a lick at the pickings. 

The 2020/21 Māori Economic Development Fund is now open to whānau, hapū, iwi and mātāwaka in Kāpiti to help develop their business or social enterprise.

The grants fund was established in 2013 by the Kāpiti Coast District Council and Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti, providing financial assistance to a range of mana whenua entities such as the Māoriland Film Festival, Ōtaki Manuka Growers Ltd, Kāpiti Island Nature Tours and Toi Matarau Gallery.

This Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti outfit is described on the Kapiti council website as one of the longest lasting partnerships between tangata whenua and Local Government in New Zealand.

The partners are the Kāpiti Coast District Council and the mana whenua (people with ‘authority over the land’) on the Kāpiti Coast.

Acculturation, plainly, is one of the objectives:

While Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti has primarily been involved with issues to do with resource management, it has also worked, particularly in more recent years, to ensure that the Māori World view is better represented and understood in the broader community. From the beginning Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti has focused on harmonising different cultural attitudes to resources and solve local issues according to national legislation.   

When we are told of “partners”, we can be sure someone will mention The Treaty.   And – sure enough – the council informs us:

Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti stems from two core principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as identified and defined by the Court of Appeal and the Waitangi Tribunal. The first principle, ‘partnership’, obliges both parties ‘to act reasonably, honourably and in good faith’. For that, consultation is vital. The second principle, ‘active protection’, requires the Crown to protect Māori in the use of their lands and waters to the fullest extent practicable.

At least this acknowledges that the principle of “partnership” is a comparatively recent construct of judges whose words have been seized on by politicians.  The politicians drum “treaty partnership” into their rhetoric to promote – for example – the undermining of their democratic mechanisms with co-governance arrangements.

The fact remains that the Treaty did not mention partnership and the “treaty principles” which politicians readily invoke have been fabricated from the language in court judgements.

Point of Order a year or two ago questioned Labour’s Kelvin Davis on the matter.  We have yet to be given an answer.

Our questions were:

  1. Will the promotion of co-governance arrangements be among the objectives of the newly established Maori-Crown relationship agency?
  2. What does the Minister believe is meant by the Treaty “partnership” (it is not actually mentioned in the Treaty of Waitangi) and when was a Treaty “partnership” first officially invoked for governmental policy-making purposes?

As we reported at the time, our questions were prompted by the growth of co-governance arrangements, both at local authority level and in central government.

“Treaty” and “partnership” increasingly were being invoked to explain significant changes to the way the country is governed, although “Treaty partnership” is a contentious concept.

Some Maori leaders are pressing for 50:50 governance arrangements and have been given the support of former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd.

When he endorsed this view, he said local government “should reflect the Treaty of Waitangi”, there should be more Māori representation, and tāngata whenua should have an equal voice.      

“We haven’t gone any further ahead at a local government level with our commitment and our relationship with iwi. Ideally for me it would be 50-50 at the table.”

The Cabinet established the Office for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, in 2018 to “help facilitate the next step in the Treaty relationship – moving beyond the settlement of Treaty grievances into what it means to work together in partnerships”. 

Announcing the decision, Davis said the new agency’s aims would be to:

  • co-design partnerships, principles and frameworks to ensure that agencies “generate the best solutions to issues affecting Māori”;
  • provide a cross-Government view on the health of the Māori Crown partnerships; and
  • deal with other matters including the constitutional and institutional arrangements supporting partnerships between the Crown and Māori.

This raised the questions we have recorded above and a few others which we sent to Davis’ press secretary:

  • Does the Minister have any concerns that New Zealand’s democratic institutions and systems are gradually being altered by co-governance arrangements to devalue concepts such as one citizen, one vote, and to put some council decision-makers (appointed, not elected) beyond the reach of voters?
  • Can the Minister foresee any other constitutional implications in the work of the new agency?
  • And – if so – who will consider constitutional changes and how will they be implemented?

Alas, we were never given the Minister’s responses.

But the history of Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti perhaps gives an inkling of what happens when nobody challenges the “partnership” rationale.

Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti first met on 8 March 1994. As the Council’s Iwi Consultation Group, the three iwi of the ART Confederation used ‘Te Whakaminenga’, meaning ‘The Confederation’, to describe themselves, but the addition ‘o Kāpiti’ (of Kāpiti) was designed to include the Kāpiti Coast District Council.

In 1994, the group developed and signed a Memorandum of Partnership; this is the primary guide for the group’s general conduct and purpose. For its part Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti guides the Council relationship with iwi, although where appropriate the Council undertakes direct consultation with iwi

Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Toa Rangatira have each elected two representatives, all with voting rights, for the current triennium. The Council is represented by the Mayor and a councillor.

These representatives discuss matters of social, environmental, economic and cultural significance to tangata whenua.

Obviously they talked about the establishment of a fund to help promote local developments:

Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti oversees the Māori Economic Development Grant Fund which is managed on an annual basis. The fund is available for projects that align to the Māori Economic Development Strategy and aims to assist whānau, hapū, iwi, mātāwaka and Māori Business within the Kāpiti Coast District with costs associated with the ongoing development of Māori Economic Activity. 

A total of $60,000 is available for projects that align to the Māori Economic Development strategy.

Kapiti Coast ratepayers will be thrilled to learn the money they hand over for council services helps fill a slew of troughs (some funded by other local body organisations).   Besides the Māori Economic Development Grants Fund there are –

  • Each of the four Community Boards has one or more grant schemes.
  • Kapiti Coast District Council has awarded over $34,000 to 23 community groups through its annual Community Grants Scheme. The Scheme provides grants of up to $2,000 to not-for-profit organisations to support community-based projects, programmes and events that contribute to positive social outcomes for people living in Kāpiti.
  • The Creative Communities Scheme is a fund aimed at supporting arts activities that celebrate Kāpiti culture, community involvement, and celebrating diversity.
  • The purpose of the Districtwide Facility Hire Remission Grant is to provide financial assistance for groups or individuals wishing to use Council-owned facilities (such as halls or aquatic facilities) for community events. The programme is to assist where the event is benefitting the District as a whole, rather than an individual community.
  • The Kāpiti Coast Major Events Fund was established to support major events in Kāpiti that will help deliver a thriving, vibrant and diverse economy. Each year the fund supports a portfolio of events that help deliver long-term economic benefits for Kāpiti.
  • These are for waste minimisation projects.
  • Wellington Community Trust is an independent funder receiving applications from not-for-profit community organisations in the wider Wellington region which includes Kapiti.

Check out your own local authority, dear reader.  Betcha the politicians in your patch are keen to win community favours and votes with handouts, too.

2 thoughts on “How “partnership” can shape relationships between councils and tribes – and the establishment of race-based grants

  1. We have Robin Cooke, Baron of Thorndon (what a ridiculous title) to thank for all this along with Geoffrey Palmer and the Lange Labour Government. When the Court of Appeal was asked in 1987 to interpret what the phrase “Treaty principles” meant after it had been airily inserted into the State Owned Enterprises Act, Cooke held that “the Treaty created an enduring relationship of a fiduciary nature akin to a partnership, each party accepting a positive duty to act in good faith, fairly, reasonably and honourably towards the other”. Cooke did not repeat not maintain the Treaty was a “partnership” as such. He used the concept as a simile (“akin to” is the key phrase here). Since then the judgement has been misrepresented by radical elements to mean something like “co-governance” which is a nonsense from any reading of the Treaty and the history which lead to it. Tribalism (based on racial affiliation and hereditary authority) and democracy (based on the popular vote) are ultimately not compatible which raises a very big question-mark if we continue in this direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every piece of Local Government Amendment legislation Palmer interfered with must be repealed as it has been a breeding license for leeches of the left.
    Also, we must return to “Principal Ratepayers Only”, voting in local body elections, as this is where the sanity of fiscal stability has been eroded by those who are agenda-driven and devoid of responsibility to overburdened ratepayers to whom they should be representing.


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