Sadly our mainstream media accepts any utterance from the rich Maori elite about the country’s history and Treaty settlements as gospel truth. The Listener is no exception. Below is a letter to the editor of a magazine that should know better. Distinguished historian Bruce Moon sets the record straight on the absurd claims of a Ngai Tahu leader.  

In The Listener for 21 August 2021, page 29, referring to the Ngai Tahu “Treaty Settlement”, Mark Solomon is reported as saying: “Our settlement was set on basically 1.5% of what we lost. Our advisors … argued our loss was $18-20 billion, but the only offer … was $170 million.”

This is blatantly untrue. $18-20 billion is the present value of that part of the South Island which Ngai Tahu considered their territory, but this value is almost entirely due to the sustained effort and investment of hard-working colonials from the British Isles and their successors.

Desperately weakened by their own “Eat Relation Feud” and the colossal slaughter at Kaikoura. Kaiapohia and Onawe by Ngatitoa under Te Rauparaha, Ngai Tahu were by 1840 a miserable remnant of barely two thousand individuals clinging to life in a few squalid coastal villages. “They were altogether a dejected people” said Missionary Wohlers.

Only too willingly they sold the virtually deserted hinterland to incoming settlers. For the few cases where this was deemed unfair to the sellers, compensation was paid up to their fourth “full and final” settlement in 1969, MP Whetu Tregerthen-Sullivan reporting its acceptance in 109 resolutions passed by this scattered tribe.

But along came the Waitangi Tribunal and its acceptance of a new claim described by Alan Everton in a lengthy analysis as a “swindle” and a “fraud”, but accepted by the Bolger–Graham government with a tax-free payout of $170 million of taxpayer money and a “relativity clause” for further top-ups as time went on. That is the true basis of the tribal riches today.

Yours faithfully,

Bruce Moon