Inexperienced’ cop’s use of Taser ‘unjustified’ and breached policy

NZ Herald

by Anna Leask

Thursday Feb 23, 2017

The IPCA has ruled the police officer's use of a Taser on a man was unjustified. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The IPCA has ruled the police officer’s use of a Taser on a man was unjustified. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A new cop’s use of a Taser on a man fleeing a potential crime scene was unjustified, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has ruled.

And, they say the probationary constable breached police policy when he used the weapon on the alleged offender.

A called to police thought someone was trying to steal a car Mt Eden on October 1, 2015.

When two officers arrived they found a man sitting in a stolen Porsche.

He saw police and sped away.

After a short pursuit, the Porsche was stopped by road spikes.

The driver got out and fled, and the probationary constable followed him on foot.

The IPCA report, released this morning, said the constable believed that the man was going to enter a house and decided to use his Taser to stop him.

“He fired his Taser twice at the man as he ran away,” the report said.

“The probes hit the man in the leg and then in the back, however the man pulled them out, with no obvious ill effects, and continued running.”

The man was arrested a short time later after a struggle.

A month later the man complained to police about the force used during his arrest.

“He said that he should not have been Tasered and that the probationary constable pushed him down a flight of stairs and then tried to break his arm when he was arrested,” the IPCA report stated.

“The authority acknowledges that the probationary constable was inexperienced and was worried the man could run into a house where he could get help, get a weapon or hurt an innocent member of the public,” said chairman, Judge Sir David Carruthers.

A police officer demonstrates the use of a taser at Police National Headquarters in Wellington. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell.
A police officer demonstrates the use of a taser at Police National Headquarters in Wellington. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell.

“However police policy is clear that a Taser can only be used on a person who is assaultive.

“As the man was running away at the time, his behaviour had not met that threshold.

“The officer’s use of the Taser clearly breached policy.”

The man also claimed that the constable told ambulance paramedics to “knock him out”.

But the authority did not uphold that part of the complaint.

“The probationary constable did not dive on the man or push him down the steps or try to break his arm,” Sir David said.

“The force used by the officer to handcuff and control the man was reasonable and justified in the circumstances.

“There was no evidence that any officer present directed the ambulance paramedics to knock the man out or sedate him.”

Police revealed that during the arrest the offender bit the officer, who needed hospital treatment as a result.

The offender was later convicted on a number of charges, including stealing the car, assaulting police, failing to stop for red and blue flashing lights, driving while forbidden and receiving property and possessing tools for burglary.

Auckland City Police District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus. New Zealand Herald photo by Jason Oxenham.
Auckland City Police District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus. New Zealand Herald photo by Jason Oxenham.

Police say lessons learned from Tasering

Auckland City District Commander Karyn Malthus said police accepted the IPCA finding.

“Officers face making split-second decisions every day and we constantly seek to deliver policing to the high standards we set for ourselves,” she said.

“Learnings have been taken from the incident and we accept the findings of the IPCA.

“We have acknowledged that while the officer’s actions were not in line with policy, he and the other officers were acting in good faith.”

Malthus noted that a number of allegations had not been upheld.

“There was no evidence that any officer present directed the ambulance paramedics to knock the man out or sedate him.”

NZ Herald

Righting the Wrongs

what-are-you-afraid-of-thumbnail

Editorial: Otago Daily Times

19  February 2017

Gay men who have been haunted for more than 30 years by convictions for homosexuality are now able to have their records wiped clean from official documents.

The Government announced last week it wants to introduce a scheme allowing gay men with convictions, or their families, to apply to have their convictions expunged. Officials have estimated about 1000 people may be eligible to apply to have their records wiped.

The select committee which considered the petition heard from Kiwi men who said they were still haunted and traumatised by their convictions. Only men convicted of sexual offences which are legal now can apply to have their records wiped.  The change in attitude has been a long time coming for those men, some of whom will have died. They lived with a criminal record because of their sexuality — with possibly their work and travel plans interrupted because of who they were, not what they were capable of achieving.

While lesbian sex was not criminalised in law like gay male sex, lesbians played a prominent role in homosexual law reform campaigns, in order to support gay men, and because they too faced social discrimination.

The move announced by Justice Minister Amy Adams comes after a petition was introduced to Parliament last July, asking the Government to officially apologise to those convicted before homosexuality was legalised in 1986 and being a process of reversing those convictions.

The policy change comes after Britain agreed last year to pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under obsolete legislation. It is known as the “Alan Turing law” after the World War 2 code-breaker who was posthumously pardoned in 2014 for his 1952 gross indecency conviction. It will seem an impossible situation for some young New Zealanders to realise the angst their older relatives faced when they discovered they were gay. These men were living a life of deceit in the dark spaces of New Zealand society.

Ms Adams is confident of wide cross-party support when she introduces the legislation to Parliament before the election.

Dame Fran Wilde was the Labour MP who championed the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Act. She remembered last week how difficult the battle was to pass the legislation. Also, she believed New Zealand was not ready in 1986 to quash those convictions. At the time, supporters of the reform were so focused on changing the law, the idea of quashing the convictions was not on the cards and it was unlikely to have made it through Parliament.

There will be no financial compensation for those convicted, and most believe that is the correct decision. Working out how the convictions affected individual men is not possible. Ideally, the changes proposed by Ms Adams should have been introduced earlier but it is at least happening now. There was no precedent for the policy and the Government wanted to make sure it properly considered any constitutional or other consequences. Ms Adams apologised on behalf of the Crown and said Parliament might consider a further apology. Concern has been expressed  some of the men may again suffer the trauma as they go through the formal process to have their convictions quashed.

Rawa Karetai, who chairs Rainbow Wellington, says some of the men have suffered so much it may be retraumatising for them to have to go through the application process. A better approach, he says, would be to hold a systemic review of all historical convictions. The stigma some of the people have been living with  means they have tried to push

such thoughts to the back of their mind. They are still living with the fears of the stigma. Some men simply do not want to talk about what they had been through.

Ms Adams says the intention is to not make the process at all onerous. It is hoped, for the sake of the men prepared to take advantage of the process, she is correct.

Business and Human Rights

Rebecca McAllum is a human rights consultant and lawyer.

Rebecca McAllum

 

OPINION: Our increasingly globalised and networked world drives unprecedented levels of transparency, which can — and will — affect the ‘social license to operate’ for almost every business.

Fundamental to such license is the care and consideration, or lack thereof, of human rights.

‘Human rights due diligence’ has been described as a “permanent entry in the lexicon of international business” with attendant risks and opportunities.

However, it is not as yet a common-place term in the New Zealand business community, nor are the processes to deliver such diligence widely practiced.

Consequently, company directors, executives, investors and consumers reading this might well ask themselves whether there is a need to adopt these concepts in New Zealand, given our self-appointed status as a “good global citizen” operating at the end of the world, albeit in ways that are totally dependent on international engagement.

The following local headlines in 2016, extracted through a simple Google search suggests that they should:

“Kiwisavers invest in cluster bomb, land mine manufacturers”

“New Zealand’s ethical fashion companies for 2016 revealed: Who passed the test?”

“New Zealand’s first people-trafficking conviction”

“Man performs haka at Dakota Access Pipeline as Kiwis show solidarity with protesters”

“Uncovered: Exploitation of migrant workers rife in NZ”

These headlines infer, arguably demand, socially responsible and human-rights compliant business practices. More troublingly, they suggest a lack of awareness by parts of the New Zealand business community in respect of preventative human rights measures.

The fundamental frameworks relating to business and human rights are now well-accepted globally.

The United Nations Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2011, provides benchmarks for companies.

A core pillar of the Guiding Principles is the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, both internationally and locally. This means that businesses should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved.

This principle is an important step away from the traditional understanding that nation states are the sole protectors and respecters of international human rights law. By requiring the effort and compliance of the business sector, it recognises that business enterprises are specialised organs of society performing specialised functions.

These Guiding Principles have been adopted by the OECD, and also by high-profile companies such as Microsoft, the Coca-Cola Company and General Electric. In practice, their implementation translates to such practices as:

– identifying and assessing risks to human rights relevant to the business;

– incorporating the same into a risk register/risk management system;

– designing policies and procedures (including monitoring systems) to avoid and respond to human rights breaches — both within the company, with their suppliers, and even with remote third parties;

– thinking strategically and looking at potential collaborative approaches to enhance human rights compliance.

While the principles are clear, there is no easy solution or toolkit. Furthermore varying contexts and sectoral characteristics will always impact on both the focus and what requires emphasis.

For instance, offshore construction and extractive industries commonly impact upon local communities and involve consultation on land and cultural rights, whereas overseas manufacturing or local horticulture tend to require a closer scrutiny of employee rights and conditions.

Apart from the obvious benefits of implementing the Guiding Principles, such as gaining a strategic advantages with competitors by appealing to the growing market of ethical and conscious consumers, becoming a human rights compliant business makes sense financially and mitigates other potential risks.

This is especially true in respect of the risks that relate to reputation/brand credibility and the large scale legal risks associated with a lack of respect and violation of human rights in business transactions.

This is to say nothing of the litigation or public relations costs that often go hand-in-hand with human rights breaches.

But simply seeing human rights diligence in risk terms is too simplistic. In an age of global transparency, a human rights orientation is a basic requirement for entry into an increasing number of markets, a precondition by many partnerships and collaborations, and essential by consumers spoilt for choice.

Human Rights diligence therefore should not only be seen as a prudent precautionary practice for every commercial entity, but also as a critical facet of competitive and marketing strategies. Recently, Adrian Orr, CEO of NZ Super Fund recognised the importance of a human rights policy when he stated:

“For many global businesses their human rights programme commenced as a measure to protect reputation and was a part of the assurance process. But now we are seeing the rise of leaders that acknowledge the commercial reality. The conversation has moved on, this is about access to new markets, investors, new suppliers and new consumers. Embedding the human rights framework is definitely about reducing risk and adding value whilst accessing those new opportunities.”

The bottom line is that becoming a human rights respecting business is win-win. Now is the time to add another dimension to the ‘triple bottom line’ reporting.

Rebecca McAllum is a human rights consultant and lawyer.

http://www.stuff.co.nz 

Gordon Campbell on NZ’s silence over Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2017

Shame that the New Zealand government has been missing in action over the weekend, during the time when the Trump presidency has been carrying out its noxiously xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-women agenda. The contrast between our silence and the forthright response by Canada has been obvious. Canada had reason to tread lightly – after all, the NAFTA trade deal is also in Trump’s gunsights. Yet Canada has firmly denounced the new US policy and offered to take in any refugees barred from the US.

Here’s Canada PM Justin Trudeau on his Twitter feed:
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength

In addition, Canada has expressed keen interest in donating to the international fund being set up by the Netherlands to counter any shortfall caused by the Trump administration gag order on aid for abortion counseling.

The difference being…. Canada has a leader. We have a bean counter who seems fixated on the political calculations involved here. One can imagine the weekend vacillations: no need to front this ; wait and see what the UK/Australia/everyone else does first; delay a response until we’re safely invisible, way back in the pack. Above all, try not to get conspicuously offside with the Trump administration. To that end, be sure to welcome any sign that the White House is (belatedly) showing restraint.

While Bill English is still mulling over his response – hey, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti women sentiments are so difficult to condemn, right? – he could perhaps find some backbone and inspiration in the joint statement issued by Republican senators John McCain and Lyndsey Graham:

Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation….

It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism….Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.

All good points. Currently, there are New Zealand troops engaged in Iraq, as part of the US-led coalition that’s training the Iraqi Army and helping the Iraqi government to defeat the forces of Islamic State. Thanks to Trump’s policy, the citizens of the same country that we are fighting to defend are now being discriminated against and forbidden US entry; as are most of the refugees fleeing from conflicts that owe their origins to the US invasion of Iraq, in 2003. So… does Bill English think this current US policy of discrimination helps, or harms the goals that our troops are risking their lives in Iraq to achieve?

Similarly, are we willing to join Canada and donate to the international fund being touted by the Netherlands to make up the shortfall in resources in abortion counselling, thanks to the re-instatement by Trump of the Reagan-era ‘gag order”? Paula Bennett, our new Minister for Women, has so far been noticeably silent on this issue, too.

The Trump executive order has (a) barred the entry of Syrian refugees into the US for an indefinite period of time (b) stopped the issuing of visas to the nationals of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia for three months and (c) has created a cap of 50,000 refugees entering the US this year, which is less than half the upper limit of the intake under the Obama administration. The executive order has also prioritised refugee approvals in future for those being persecuted for their religion, but only for those professing a minority religion in their home countries. (In the Middle East, Muslims would therefore not qualify ; nor would refugees fleeing Shia/Sunni sectarian fighting ; nor would Muslims fleeing from IS or al Shabaab ; nor would Muslim refugees fleeing from the tyrannical regime in Eritrea etc etc. )

In reality, this is pure political posturing. Factors such as the religious persecution of minorities can already be considered by the refugee vetting authorities. So, this is mainly a pitch by Trump to his evangelical Christian supporters in the US.

President Trump, CEO Trump

As many have noted, the selective list of countries being targeted by Trump – ostensibly on security grounds – comprise seven countries that have not carried out any terrorist attacks at all on the US mainland in the past two decades. Conveniently, they are also countries in which Trump and his family have no business interests. Conversely, the list happens to omit the very countries whose citizens have killed thousands of Americans in terrorist attacks over the same period, but are countries in which Trump and his family do have business interests. As US National Public Radio’s Greg Myre has pointed out:

The 19 terrorists in the Sept. 11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates….They are among the Muslim-majority countries not affected by Trump’s immigration freeze, but where Trump does business.

He has significant commercial interests in Turkey and Azerbaijan, is developing properties in Indonesia and Dubai, and has formed companies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. His daughter Ivanka said in 2015 that the company was looking at “multiple opportunities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia — the four areas where we are seeing the most interest.”

Brookings Institute fellow Norman Eisen has made much the same point to NPR. [Note : emoluments are gifts to office holders that are expressly forbidden by the Constitution.]

“I don’t believe that our Constitution allows the president to order State Department and other U.S. government employees to discriminate between otherwise identical people, favoring those from countries he likes because they give him unconstitutional foreign emoluments, and punishing those from other countries that do not pay such personal and illegal tribute to him.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand keeps its silence. When Rip Van English finally does wake up and comment, you can bet he’ll welcome how the White House has already back-pedalled and will now exempt US green card holders from the travel ban.

Praising Trump in the hope that this will ameliorate his behaviour is a losing strategy. To the rest of the world, it would look suspiciously like collusion with his actions. We need to denounce Trump and his agenda, because they’re so radically against this country’s best interests and values.

Deportees

Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” is one of the most compassionate songs ever written about refugees – and about their potential human (and economic) value to the countries that host them. Guthrie wrote this song in outrage after hearing a radio news broadcast about an air crash in California that had dismissively described the victims as being “just deportees”. The best version of the song is by Guthrie’s fellow Oklahoman, the great James Talley.

And at a time when Trump is making the United States unrecognisable, Talley’s beautiful version of the old chestnut “This Land Is Your Land” goes some way to rescuing patriotism from its current sorry state.

Editorial: Australian immigration policies are needlessly inhumane

The Press: Editorial

Brook Mitchell

An Australian man protests against his country’s immigration policy in Sydney in June 2016. New reports show that many are being kept too long in detention centres.

Australia’s immigration policies have become notorious for New Zealanders. We have heard many stories of those who have become victims of a brutal and inflexible system.

Australian law was amended in 2014 to allow for the deportation of those who fail a “character test”. Foreign-born nationals who spent more than 12 months in prison automatically fail. More controversially still, it can affect those who are merely deemed to have associated with criminal activity, such as war veteran Ko Haapu, who was sent back to New Zealand in 2016.

There was the sad case of Junior Togatuki who died in solitary confinement in a Sydney prison in 2015 as he waited to be deported. Togatuki had lived in Australia since he was 4 and had written to Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton before his death: “All my family live here in Australia. This is our home. Not New Zealand.”

Only weeks after Togatuki died in prison, former Prime Minister John Key said that he would raise the issue of deportations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull but would not get Turnbull in “an armlock” over it. If there is an opposite of talking tough, this was it.

But would any pressure or persuasion have changed Turnbull and Dutton’s minds? The Australian government’s unyielding position since 2014 is that it makes no apologies for enacting policies that “further protect the Australian community” from refugees and asylum seekers as well as former criminals and others. When criticisms of Australia’s tough immigration policies have been made on this side of the Tasman, one response has been that the country is free to decide its own laws. Too bad if we in New Zealand happen to disapprove.

Which is true, up to a point. But reports released this week by Australia’s Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave have shown once again that immigration policies do not just create the potential for abuse but that human rights abuses have almost become an inevitable feature of the process.

New Zealanders are the most likely to be affected by the policy of deporting citizens of other countries who have committed crimes resulting in more than 12 months’ imprisonment. More than half of those who had their visas cancelled in Australia between 2014 and 2016 were from New Zealand – 697 people out of a total of 1219.

The policy has been dramatically expanded. There were just 76 deportations in 2013-14, according to Neave’s findings. In the last financial year, the number jumped to 983.

The reports also showed that delays in the system have meant that New Zealanders and others have spent needlessly long periods of time in Australian detention centres. Neave called for new standard timeframes to avoid unnecessary imprisonment.

His reports also revealed that the federal government had not cancelled visas far enough ahead of the release of prisoners, which undermined a policy of “giving primary consideration to the best interests of those who have young children and/or experience prolonged family separation”.

In short, a policy that was already controversial and inhumane has been made even tougher on children and families as well as those who have been detained.

Just 17 percent of NZX-listed company directors are women

1:18 pm on 10 January 2017

 

The dean of Canterbury University’s law school says a relentless bias is to blame for the under-representation of women on boards.

Prof. Ursula Cheer, dean of the school of law at the University of Canterbury

Canterbury University law school dean Ursula Cheer says two-thirds of students studying law are women. Photo: supplied

Information filed by NZX-listed companies show, on average last year, 17 percent of directors were women.

The ratio is the same as 2015.

For the final quarter of 2016, the percentage fell to 13 percent.

Although the information derives from only 125 listed companies, Professor Ursula Cheer said the real percentage could be lower. Many would want to hide the lack of balance, she said.

Ms Cheer is the first female dean of Canterbury University’s law school and the only one in New Zealand’s six law schools.

She said the problem was complex.

“I think it’s a combination of women not being appointed – and that’s just a relentless bias that’s both acknowledged and isn’t – but it’s also a case of some women still not putting themselves forward and that can come down to confidence.”

business equality gender boards directors male female

On average last year, 17 percent of company directors were women. Photo: 123RF

Ms Cheer favoured quotas as they made having women on boards normal.

The chief executive of Governance New Zealand and Women on Boards, Linda Noble, agreed quotas worked overseas.

“It’s almost like a dirty word here when you talk about quotas because I don’t think any woman wants to be on a board just because she is a woman,” she said.

“But it does make a real difference.”

Ms Cheer said students studying law were two-thirds women to one-third men.

“That could have a big impact on the profession… which doesn’t appear to be prepared or doing much about this,” she said.

“If you look at the structure of a lot of law firms you see mostly men at the top and then mostly female associates.”

A Women in Law Society was recently established at Canterbury University. At its inception it had more than 100 members, including Ms Cheer.

Worker exploitation rampant across NZ, report shows

Six organisations are calling on the Government to do more to prevent human trafficking following a new study that reveals widespread worker exploitation in New Zealand.

The research was commissioned by six non-governmental organisations (NGO) after human rights abuses were exposed on foreign charter boats.

The report, “Worker exploitation in New Zealand: a troubling landscape”, showed modern-day slavery was happening across many industries including hospitality, construction and dairy.

Researcher Dr Christina Stringer said as well as being a serious human rights issue, the exploitation of migrant workers put New Zealand’s reputation at risk.

Stringer interviewed 105 people over two years. Some of the most common exploitation included excessive work hours without breaks (up to 18 hour shifts and 80 to 90 hour weeks), no pay or severe underpayment, and degrading treatment such as being denied bathroom breaks and verbal or physical abuse.

This year Korean fishing boat Oyang 77, which operated in New Zealand waters, had eight charges of illegally dumping ...

DAVID HALLETT/FAIRFAX NZ

This year Korean fishing boat Oyang 77, which operated in New Zealand waters, had eight charges of illegally dumping fish laid against it. There were also reports of crews being beaten and forced to work for minimal pay.

In the horticulture industry, for example, workers were commonly paid less than the minimum wage, with some being paid as little as $5 an hour.

In hospitality, one worker reported getting paid for four to five hours of work despite working 90-hour weeks.

A farm worker said they had to kill more than 300 bobby calves with a hammer and others reported poor working conditions, lack of pay and poor treatment of animals.

Dr Christina Stringer's study reveals tales of low pay, verbal and physical abuse and excessive work hours without breaks.

SUPPLIED

Dr Christina Stringer’s study reveals tales of low pay, verbal and physical abuse and excessive work hours without breaks.

Those interviewed in the construction industry reported entering into debt bondages to pay recruitment fees of about $10,000 each. When they arrived in New Zealand, their work experience documents and passports were held by an immigration advisor until they had paid their fees off.

Stringer said many temporary migrants put up with exploitation so they can get permanent residency, or because they were forced or lied to by their employer.

“These workers’ contribution to our economy must be valued and the vulnerable among them must be properly protected,” she said.

The NGOs, which include Stand Against Slavery and Child Alert (or ECPAT NZ), are calling for the Government to set up a human trafficking office and fund more research into vulnerable groups.

The group is also calling on a private sector investment, a mandatory country induction for migrant workers to explain their rights and where to get help and a red flag system to identify trafficking and labour exploitation.

Stand Against Slavery chief executive Peter Mihaere said the report showed slavery was right in our backyards and action was needed immediately.

“Let us be very clear, this research is just the beginning. We need to work together, carry out more in-depth research and put in place solutions needed for New Zealand to be exploitation and slavery free.”

STUFF.CO.NZ

Rise Above: Protect your right to a stable climate and healthy environment!

People around the world are rising above the challenges of the climate crisis and reaching for a better future for us all. The movement is diverse and strong – from disaster survivors, frontline communities, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, youth, grandmothers, and more.  These people are pushing back because fossil fuel companies and governments are failing to protect and respect human rights.

Climate change threatens human rights. We are already experiencing the impacts, including sea-level rise, temperature increase, extreme weather events, and changes in precipitation. These in turn result in human rights impacts, such as loss of land, harm to clean water, reduction of food, dislocation, outbreak of disease, and even loss of life. People cannot and will not accept these threats and are taking action NOW to protect themselves and their families, communities, and future generations.

http://peoplevsbigpolluters.org/

MPs’ lack of interest in treaty bills ‘heartbreaking’

9:04 pm on 6 December 2016

 

A Māori MP has criticised fellow parliamentarians for what she says is a heartbreaking lack of interest in the process of addressing historical injustices.

Marama Fox said MPs needed to attend treaty settlement bill readings to learn of the historic treaty breaches.

Iwi and hapū packed the public gallery to hear the bills being read, but where were the MPs? Photo: Screenshot

Last week three iwi groups travelled from Taranaki to Parliament to hear their treaty settlement bills being read, but found very few politicians in the house.

The groups, Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki, have waited more than 150 years for Treaty of Waitangi breaches against them to be addressed.

In Parliament, a full public gallery listened quietly as Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told their story.

“Before 1860, Ngāruahine were thriving, they were economically successful and they retained ownership of their lands and their resources – by 1865, every acre of the Ngāruahine rohe had been indiscriminately confiscated by the Crown.”

Mr Finlayson went on to describe the events of the Parihaka invasion as some of the gravest moments in the country’s history, in an account that reduced Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta to tears.

Maori Party co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell.

Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell Photo:Supplied

“The raupatu (land confiscation) was indiscriminate, unjust and unconscionable. The Crown deeply regrets the serious damage its actions have caused to Ngāruahine and its people.”

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox described what happened to those arrested at Parihaka in 1881.

“Your people were convicted, tortured, ferried away, enslaved, killed.”

And her co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, spoke about how he felt visiting the area.

“I was taken aback, I suppose, by almost a depression, and I never got to grips with it until I understood that when you have your land taken from you, you’re bound to be depressed.”

RNZ asked each political party how many MPs attended the settlement readings last week:

  • Māori Party – two MPs
  • Labour Party – a minimum of five to six
  • NZ First – three MPs
  • Green Party – no more than three at any one time
  • National – did not supply numbers

Ms Fox said, at the very least, MPs should turn up and learn about the historical treaty breaches.

“They’ve been waiting 150 years for this, to come to this point, to address the injustice. And when they come and sit in front of the government, and the government is absent, it’s heartbreaking.”

Many MPs were attending select committee meetings while the treaty settlements were being heard in the house, but Ms Fox said the committees did not have to sit during the readings – it was a choice.

“When we go under urgency, all the other select committees stop, and then we get the treaty bills and we go into urgency and all the other select committees carry on – because they don’t value it, don’t deem it important to be there, they think ‘this is a Māori thing, we’ll leave it to them’.”

Tomorrow, another three iwi will arrive at Parliament to have their bills read.

Labour MP Peeni Henare said he would be there, and was challenging other MPs to come in numbers.