$18 million settlement for Moriori will help eliminate a myth – but another $18 million is intended to encourage creativity

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

Each of two fresh announcements from the Beehive involves payments of $18 million.

One lot is being poured into a trough to offer grants up to $150,000 a year “for creative spaces to make arts more accessible”.

The other is the sum involved in the Moriori treaty settlement, although Moriori get not only the money but also a bag.

Myth-busting is likely to be a consequence of the deal, too, when the Moriori Claims Settlement Bill is enacted.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little welcomed Moriori to Parliament to witness the first reading of the bill, which – he said – is “the culmination of years of dedication and hard work from all the parties involved”.

He candidly acknowledged the Moriori are being short-changed, saying:

“No settlement package could ever fully compensate Moriori who suffered such a magnitude of loss and prejudice. Through this settlement, the Crown hopes to go some way to atone for its past injustices, and to alleviate the acute sense of grievance experienced by Moriori. I am humbled that Moriori imi have accepted this settlement.”

The settlement package includes a Crown apology for historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, the transfer of lands of cultural and spiritual significance to Moriori on the Chatham Island and Pitt Island as cultural redress, and financial redress to the value of $18 million.

But wait.  There’s more, in the form of what looks like co-governance arrangements.

“The package also comprises shared redress including the vesting of 50-percent of Te Whanga Lagoon, the establishment of Te Whanga Management Board, the development of customary fisheries regulations for the Chatham Islands, and the establishment of a joint planning committee for natural resources on the Chatham Islands.”

The Moriori Claims Settlement Bill will put into law the Moriori Deed of Settlement, signed on 14 February 2020.

The Deed of Settlement, and a summary of the Deed’s contents are available at https://www.govt.nz/treaty-settlement-documents/moriori/ .

The Moriori Claims Settlement Bill can be found at: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2020/0238/latest/LMS238051.html.

As for the myth-busting, when Moriori leaders negotiated their deal with the Crown they said they hoped the settlement would get rid of the myths colonisation had caused to their people.

Chief negotiator, Maui Horomona (Solomon), last year was reported by RNZ as saying:

“I was told by my social studies teacher when I was about 13 that there were no such things as Moriori, that you’re a myth, I said ‘but sir, my grandfather was a full blooded Moriori, he said no such thing – that is a very common story for a lot of our people and there are still many who believe that myth but I think this settlement will help set the record straight because it will be part of legislation, it will be part of our law.”

Horomona said the settlement would also get rid of the unfortunately well known myth that Māori drove out Moriori, in an attempt by Pākehā to justify colonisation.

“Māori have been portrayed as driving Moriori out of NZ, that didn’t happen, so it’s not just Moriori who have suffered its Māori who have suffered too and that was because of the colonial need to justify their colonisation of Māori that supposedly Māori colonised Moriori – it didn’t happen that way but it became a powerful myth that five or six of generations of New Zealanders were taught at school and many of the old people still believe it today, so I think it’s a lot of laying ghosts to rest in this settlement.”

Keri Mills writing for The Spinoff, did some myth-busting in 2018, asking and answering some key questions.

Were there a pre-Māori people in New Zealand called the Moriori?

No. Moriori are a group based in the Chatham Islands / Rēkohu. Their ancestors came from East Polynesia, like Māori, and probably via Aotearoa. The recent archaelogical evidence shows that Moriori arrived in the Chatham Islands around 1500 – either from the Māori migration to Aotearoa (ie, they were part of the original migration of Māori to Aotearoa, and left for the Chathams later) or, possibly, they came independently to the Chatham Islands from the same region as the Māori migration. On Rēkohu they developed a distinct language and culture.

According to Mills:

In 1835 a group of about 900 Taranaki Māori (from Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama) sailed from Wellington to the Chathams, with the intention to make it their new home. They had recently been driven out of their own rohe during the Musket Wars. Shortly after they arrived they killed around 300 Moriori and enslaved the rest. So yes, some Māori did kill some Moriori, and the story is an awful one – but to attribute this to all Māori is wrong, and if you find yourself wanting to do it you should question your motives in doing so.

Are there any Moriori left?

Yes. Moriori are a distinct and surviving kin group. Some still live in the Chathams, some live on mainland Aotearoa and overseas. Their genealogical heritage is now complex and intermingled, as with Māori and almost every other ethnic group on the planet.

Another question addressed by Mills was …

Were there a pre-Māori people, at all?

As far as the scientific evidence is concerned, there were no pre-Māori people. There is no substantial evidence of any sustained human presence in this land before the 13th century, and past then all the evidence is of a fairly homogenous group of people with eastern Polynesian origins.

Hmm. This raises the critical issue of whether Maori are “indigenous” to New Zealand.

But let’s turn from myth-busting to the state funding of creativity.

Announcing $18 million to support “creative spaces”, Sepuloni said creative spaces are places in the community where people with mental health needs, disabled people, and those looking for social connection, are welcomed and supported to practice and participate in the arts and in their communities.

“These spaces are inclusive and have an important role to play in enhancing the wellbeing of people who are all too often at risk of being excluded from participating in their own communities”, Carmel Sepuloni said. 

“We should not underestimate the role that the arts can play in health and wellbeing nor the opportunity that these spaces provide to develop and showcase artist talent.”

Funding creative spaces would  support new jobs and expand existing roles to help build a more sustainable sector and skilled workforce. It would enable creative spaces to increase the reach and quality of their services and programmes, including into Māori and Pacific communities.

“More than 11,000 people a year use creative spaces throughout Aotearoa. With this funding we could see participation rates lift by around 2,000 people per year over the next three years. This new funding acknowledges the value of creative spaces in communities and the benefits to participants’ wellbeing from accessing these services.”

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage has partnered with Arts Access Aotearoa to support the application process and successful recipients over the longer-term.

This is the first funding opportunity as part of the $70 million Te Tahua Whakahaumaru Creative Arts Recovery Employment (CARE) Fund announced in May as part of Budget 2020.

The CARE Fund is part of the Arts and Culture COVID Recovery Programme led by Manatu Taonga, delivering $374 million over four years to help the cultural sector survive, adapt, and thrive, Sepuloni said.

Applications for this first round of the Creative Spaces initiative will close at noon on Wednesday 24 March.

Those who  don’t get to the trough in time can relax – round two (expected to open in early May) is aimed at creative spaces that need more time or support to apply.

More information about creative spaces funding and how to apply is available on the Manatū Taonga website. There’s also more information on the CARE Fund.

Latest from the Beehive

24 FEBRUARY 2021

$18 million for creative spaces to make arts more accessible

23 FEBRUARY 2021

Moriori Claims Settlement Bill passes first reading

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