Gareth Morgan’s Ratana Speech.

Gareth MorganPolitics

Kia ora koutou,

My name as some of you will know is Gareth Morgan,

I was born and raised in Putaruru in the South Waikato by my mother and father.

My Father was Roderic Morgan and my mother Mary Morgan who both came from Cardiff, in Wales.

My wife is Joanne Morgan and together we have four beautiful children, Sam, Jessi, Floyd and Ruby.

Because of them I’m lucky to be the grandfather of six – Macy, Edie, Skye, Oscar, Vesper and Bella.

Our grandchildren demonstrate just how quickly the generations take on ancestry of many.

In just 2 generations my family has added to ancestral blood of the Welsh, bloodlines from Scotland, Portugal, US, China – Nga Tahu and Ngapuhi. Such is contemporary New Zealand.

I want to start by thanking the people of Ratana here today for welcoming myself and the Morgan Foundation onto your whenua.

This is my first time to Ratana, and on February 6th, it will be my first time to attend the Waitangi celebrations where the Treaty was signed almost 175 years ago.

So I ask in advance that you make light humour out of any mistakes that I may make during my time here with you.

While it is my first visit, I do hope that the project myself and the foundation are working on, will ensure that it is not my last.

I acknowledge the Ratana Church, Movement, Faith, People and T W Ratana as well as those who walked with him on his journey to where Ratana is today.

My co-author, Susan Guthrie is here with me today and together we have been on a journey which we are still closer to the start than the end of.

And today I’d like to tell you about the things we have learnt so far, the things we are still grappling with and the things that we hope we might achieve.

Part 1 of this project, is a book we have written called, “Are we there yet? The future of the Treaty of Waitangi”.

I began this piece of work 5 years ago now and while I remain with more questions than I have answers for, I’m infinitely more appreciative of the challenge that lies ahead.

We have called our book “Are We There Yet”? as it’s a reference to the strong expectation held by Pakeha in particular, that once the settlement process for historic claims winds up, then for all intents and purposes we can get back to normal.

I don’t have to tell this audience that although the historical claims process is drawing to an end, the view that we’re all done and dusted is about as far from the truth as it could be – that the Treaty of Waitangi is about a lot more than redressing breaches made, and negotiating settlements for those.

But there is an enormous task ahead, to convince ordinary non-Maori or as often referred to in maori, Tau Iwi, that the Treaty means far more and is an agreement between Maori and subsequent settlers that establishes the manner in which occupation of this land is to be shared.

And that task would have been far easier if successive governments had done a better job communicating the work of the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal over the last 40 years.

For example, if Maori are to make meaningful progress on the issues around rangatiratanga as referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty, then there is a number of very significant steps that society as a whole must take.

And the Treaty is clear – it does stipulate that Maori are entitled to rangatiratanga. Self-determination, removal of socio-economic disadvantage and meaningful say in the governance of Aotearoa New Zealand, all remain very much on the “to-do” list.

While I realise that I need not convince you, most Tau Iwi are blissfully unaware of this.

One who did understand was Michael Savage. It was in 1936 when the then leader of the Labour Party & Prime Minister declared that the government would incorporate the Treaty into policy. As per the record documented by Ngatata Love in 1977, Savage’s words were;

“I will give the Treaty of Waitangi every consideration and listen to your representations, and will say that the spirit of the Treaty can be found in our policy, to assist you and all your Maori People.”

Obviously the reality has been as successful as the MANA Dotcom alliance or David Cunliffe’s ambition to be Prime Minister

But any New Zealander who might think that the few cents in the dollar that has been paid, or the part property rights that have been acknowledged, are in any way full compensation for the past grievances and all is now honoured with the Treaty, is obviously uneducated or just wilfully ignorant. Property theft has been just one breach.

Yet, when I point this out in public, I get a flood of objections via letters and emails from this group – sadly, many of them abusive. That tells me, ignorance levels are high.

But at least this process of negotiated settlement has enabled us to move ahead and has presented the opportunity for us all to keep the founding document in the centre of our consciousness.

We need to now take that opportunity and use the Treaty to define what it is to be a New Zealander and a citizen of this bicultural and multi cultural society.

The constitutional review is that opportunity.

It is notable that no Prime Minister since Michael Joseph Savage has fully honoured the promise he made in 1936.

Despite this, the Labour Party enjoyed the support of Maori for decades, support which only faltered when the Foreshore and Seabed Act was passed by the Clark government in 2004.

I will never aim to speak on behalf of Maori or the people of Ratana, although I would happily take a guess that the actions of successive governments have not married up with the understanding T W Ratana and the people of Ratana had when an alliance was made.

When we look back at the history of Ratana, people like me look for the facts, the records, the archives, the evidence from national libraries, researches, PhD’s and academics. One thing I have also learnt is that Maori have an extremely strong, generation-driven historical oral history, a store of stories that have never been documented. This store has recently been opened up in the North with the publishing of “Ngapuhi Speaks” after kuia and kaumatua agreed to record their oral history to the tribunal.

So forgive me if I do get my wires crossed and I ask that afterwards when we are in the wharekai, you take the time to teach me so that in future when I talk to people, I have a more informed opinion.

However my research suggests:

  • Your language remains marginalised, although pleasingly wider acknowledgement of its importance and value to us all, is emerging;
  • Your over-representation amongst the ranks of the socially and economically disadvantaged is unacceptable on any measure; and
  • In my view the trinkets of political office you are gaining is an extremely poor substitute for the principle of a shared role in governance. – and will end in tears.

Today I come here as a Pakeha New Zealander, to acknowledge Ratana, and the foresight you had to place the Treaty hand in hand with that most important article of your faith, the bible.

I acknowledge the promise that Michael Joseph Savage made to you and your people in 1936, to have the Treaty central of our code of governance.

My undertaking is to do all I can to persuade my fellow New Zealanders that we need to honour that commitment.

You have seen many different governments since that time, and you have seen many different destructive acts against your people.

As a Pakeha I think I can say that many of us only focus on the present, few focus on the past and even fewer look at the future.

With that in mind it would simply be too easy to point the finger at this government and the prime minister of the day.

I instead lay the blame for the partial honouring of the Treaty and the roadblock we face in taking it forward, on the House of Representatives and every political party and Member of Parliament who sits in it.

If it is to be legitimate, constitutional change in particular needs the full and informed participation of the public-at-large. It cannot come about as an initiative of a coterie of lawyers and hired hands, closeted in meeting rooms cooking up detailed but “reader unfriendly” reports.

Sadly, it is the benign neglect by the House of Representatives to endorse and promote the Treaty and its principles as the core of our (yet unwritten) constitution, that has underpinned a persistently shallow appreciation by Pakeha in particular, of the ongoing implications of the Treaty.

So today I challenge the House of Representatives to:

  • ensure Pakeha in particular, are fully cognisant of the relationship between our two peoples and what the duty of care implies if that relationship is to be honoured.
  • break out of the inertia around the Treaty and get on with constitutional change in a way that does see the principles of the Treaty fully reflected in that constitution
  • stop honouring the Treaty in part only, and build a constitution that makes Maori and Pakeha and all New Zealanders able to stand tall in our shared land.
  • publicly tell New Zealand your idea on how this should be done and instigated in this term of the 51st Parliament as we celebrate the 175 anniversary of the signing of the Treaty.

I make this challenge to every Member of Parliament and more importantly, to every New Zealander.

Is this too far-fetched an ideal, am I a dreamer to think that Pakeha can actually care enough to be bothered?

I have always worked on the view that a fully informed public is a rational public and I have enormous confidence in the public of New Zealand to do the right thing.

Having the conversation, ensuring we are all informed of what any reasonable person’s reading of the Treaty implies, will I think lead us at last to put the Treaty in its rightful place – at the centre of that constitution which we have got to get on with and write.

Only once we write that will everybody be in no doubt as to what it is to be a New Zealander, that the unique rules we have agreed to abide by in sharing this land ensures a way forward that is beneficial for us all.

You may not agree with everything I say, I may not agree with everything you say, but hopefully we can agree to sit down and have that discussion together, and fulfill the vision of TW Ratana.

So to conclude. “Are we there yet”? No we are not, and the House of Representatives needs to provide leadership.

Gareth Morgan’s Ratana Speech. was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.