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Showing posts from July, 2012

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori/Maori Language Week and Te Reo Maori (Maori Language) Claim

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For Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori, guest blogger Bruce Stirling backgrounds the history of the Te Reo claim and the long struggle for recognition of the Maori language:
The annual focus on speaking Maori, Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week), has rolled around again, from 23–29 July 2012. 


It’s been an annual event since 1975, building on the inaugural Maori Language Day instituted by Maori in 1972, but it took a 1986 Waitangi Tribunal report to help secure official recognition of te reo Maori and the resources needed to preserve and nurture the language. Action on the Tribunal’s recommendations included the establishment, 25 years ago, of Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori (the Maori Language Commission) to promote te reo Maori.
By the 1970s, te reo Maori was widely seen as in danger of dying out after more than a century of being suppressed in schools, in the interests of assimilating Maori. The official opposition to the language was aggravated by rapid Maori urbanisation after World W…

Maori Claims to Water - Older Than You Might Think

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Whenever Maori claims to the Waitangi Tribunal are brought to the public attention through the media it seems that, for many non-Maori, these are like bolts from the blue. The implication is that such claims are new, opportunistic and manufactured. That is invariably not the case. Nearly all such claims have deep historical roots. It is not my intention to outline here the abundant evidence of historical Maori claims to water. Instead, a single piece of evidence concerning historical Maori claims to the Waikato River is highlighted.


Firstly, let me briefly explain the context. In 1859 the government forced through the purchase of the Pekapeka block, at Waitara, in Taranaki, against the determined opposition of many owners, led by Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake. A year later, Crown efforts to forcibly survey the block were met with peaceable opposition from members of Te Ati Awa about to be dispossessed of their lands. The government responded by opening fire on Taranaki Maori, and the firs…

Turangi Township and the Waitangi Tribunal's Binding Powers

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It is a little known fact that, under certain circumstances, the Waitangi Tribunal is able to make binding recommendations. Although the Tribunal has had this power for nearly a quarter century, only once has it so far opted to exercise this option. So what were the circumstances in which it did so? Here, we look back briefly at the history of the Turangi claim.
In the 1950s the Crown drew up proposals for what at the time was the largest hydro-electric development in New Zealand. The Tongariro Power Development scheme would require a large work force and therefore accommodation for the construction workers for the many years it would take to complete the project. In 1964, following some discussion with its Ngati Turangitukua owners, Turangi was chosen as the site for a new township for these purposes.
Turangi 1964 (WA-61680-G, ATL)
Ngati Turangitukua had agreed to the proposals in principle on the basis of various undertakings and assurances received from the government. These include…

The Pink and White Terraces - Backstory to their Re-discovery

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The residents of Auckland at first thought that a Russian man-of-war had commenced bombing the city. The blast was felt as far south as Christchurch too. In the early hours of 10 June 1886, Mt Tarawera, some 24 kilometres southeast of Rotorua, erupted with a terrible force. There had been little prior warning, though ten days before the disaster a phantom waka full of warriors had been seen on Lake Tarawera. 


In the aftermath of the eruption 153 people officially lay dead – all but six of them Maori. Much of the Bay of Plenty was covered in ash and mud. Miraculously, initial reports out of Rotorua suggested that Otukapuarangi (‘fountain of the clouded sky’) and Te Tarata (‘the tattooed rock’) – better known to Europeans as the Pink and White Terraces – had escaped unscathed.
Five days later the terrible truth was revealed, when a telegram from the Rotorua postmaster announced that it was ‘quite a decided fact that the terraces exist no longer.’ Among many global contenders, the dazzlin…