Partnership is a theme which underpins much of what happens in the church today with lay leaders working alongside priests and laity to draw out the gifts of the people in realising the kingdom of God. There is a sense of standing shoulder to shoulder and focusing on a shared goal in the distance.
Another partnership was celebrated last month with the signing of the largest treaty settlement in New Zealand’s history, worth some $400 million including 176,000 hectares in crown forests and about $223 million in rentals that have accumulated on the land since 1989 and an annual income stream of $13 million.
The deal is also historic because for the first time, the crown has negotiated a settlement with more than one iwi; this deal is with seven iwi representing around 100,000 people.
Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu had approached the crown last December with an idea that led to the formation of the collective. He is projecting that the settlement will see the return of significant assets to central North Island iwi.
Wise management of these assets would benefit children from the various iwi and those yet to be born, he said.
The iwi stand to gain further with this deal because Waikato-Tainui and Ngai Tahu signed deals in the 1990s that included clauses for extra payments if the $1 billion mark was passed in overall settlements.
Tainui are presently seeking government clarification on the implications of the Treelords deal for their settlement.
Although the iwi could receive tens of millions of dollars each from the settlement, the issue is less about money than about recognition of grievances from loss of land and a sense of displacement dating from 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
Since then Māori have gone from being almost wiped out by the early 1900s to a resurgence in population and recognition in the 1980s and beyond.
The establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 has gradually led to a new confidence and dynamism in M%u0101ori communities that have concluded Treaty settlements. Others live with a profound sense of grievance about the way society treated them in the past. For groups affected by colonial wars, confiscation and large-scale land loss, this sense of grievance can be profound.
As the tribunal says on its website (www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz) when this ‘is combined with social deprivation and exclusion, the maintenance of social cohesion becomes a concern’.
The Sealords Fisheries deal of 1993 brought greater visibility for Māori in every aspect of the country’s life than they had had a generation earlier though still under-represented in the professions and over-represented in the crime statistics.
Thanks to MMP there are now more MPs identifying as Māori than just those in the Māori seats.
There is a great deal of hope for Māori with the sense of self that comes with positive recognition. With Māori Language Week this month (20 to 27) it may be timely to find out more about the two main cultures in this country and see where we may further partner each other.