Gender & Economic Equality

On March 9, 2020 the Human Rights Commission in partnership with the National Council of Women, Pacific Women’s Watch, Māori Women’s Welfare League and Business & Professional Women invite you to a panel discussion regarding “Gender and Economic Equality for Women in New Zealand: Progress and Challenges”. The discussion will be chaired by the Right Honourable Helen Clark, former prime Minister of New Zealand, and feature panellists:

  • Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner
  • Prue Kapua, President of the Māori Women’s Welfare League
  • Lisa Lawrence, National President National Council of Women
  • Rachel McIntosh, Council of Trade Unions
  • Rebecca Barnes-Clark, Ministry for Women

Gender and Economic Equality for Women in New Zealand: Progress and Challenges

The Human Rights Commission in partnership with the National Council of Women, Pacific Women’s Watch, Māori Women’s Welfare League and Business & Professional Women are hosting a panel to discuss “Gender and Economic Equality for Women in New Zealand: Progress and Challenges”.

Posted by New Zealand Human Rights Commission on Monday, 9 March 2020

Government Challenge to Mana Wahine


Nā te Perehitini, Prue Kapua

In July 2019 the Minister for Women announced with some pride the allocation by Government of $6.2m to put together a specialist team to work alongside Te Puni Kokiri in co-ordinating a Government response and participation in the Waitangi Tribunal Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry.

The Wai 2700 Mana Wahine Inquiry will inquire into claims which allege prejudice to Maori women arising from Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi with damage to our customary roles and relationships with our whenua, whakapapa and matauranga with serious prejudicial consequences for our social, economic, cultural and spiritual wellbeing and our access to leadership roles.

At the annual gathering at Ratana Pa last Friday, Shane Jones displayed that prejudice in an attack on Pania Newton by belittling her contribution to retaining lhumātao as a taonga. Wahine Maori like Pania are not pretending to be anything. They are assuming those customary roles of kaitiaki and safeguarding our relationships with our whenua through whakapapa.

The Mana Wahine claim was filed in 1993, led by the Maori Women’s Welfare League. For 25 years it lay dormant until the Waitangi Tribunal announced its resurrection in 2018. A number of the Presidents named as part of the claim in 1993 are no longer with us, but the issues about the poor outcomes for wahine Maori raised by the League remain as relevant today, if not more so.

In July Minister Genter outlined that the Government intended to take a collaborative approach between Maori and the Crown to identify where there are issues and where improvements can be made.

Given the Government’s position, the misogynistic and ignorant attack by Minister Jones at Ratana Pa this week is entirely at odds with the Government’s purported approach to the Mana Wahine Tribunal claim. It is unacceptable that a Cabinet minister, particularly one holding an Associate Finance portfolio, displays the very behaviour that is at the heart of many of the claims that are before the Tribunal and exhibits the attitude that wahine Maori have had to endure based on an arrogant, discriminatory disregard of them, that, in this instance, Minister Jones directed to Pania Newton. And there is no justification for Shane Jones to be exempt from the collective Cabinet responsibility he agreed to when he accepted ministerial office.

It is not without irony that the impetus for the 1993 mana wahine claim by the League was the removal of Dame Mira Szaszy, a past President of the League and a woman of great mana, from the shortlist of appointees to the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission. The beneficiary of that decision, endorsed by the Minister of Fisheries, was none other than Shane Jones. To that end the acceptance of the appointment by Shane Jones   at the expense of Dame Mira Szaszy was clearly an act to please Pakeha and particularly the Crown to exclude wahine Maori from yet another decision-making position. Perhaps his attack on Pania Newton arises from his guilt at collaborating and compromising to please Pakeha, rather than sticking firmly to principles based on kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga and tikanga.

In my view there is no question about who holds mana and shows leadership. And Pania does that regardless of attempts by Maori men to undermine her and perpetuate the damage suffered by wahine Maori from colonisation.

Shane Jones would do well to recall the words his kuia, Dame Mira stated to the United Nations Twelfth session of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples on behalf of the mana wahine claimants in 1994:

“Me aro koe kite hā o Hine-ahu-one – Pay heed to the dignity of women”

Ihumātao – Where does the blame lie?

Nā te Perehitini, Prue Kapua

“Ihumātao is not a clash between kaumātua and rangatahi. It is a clash between those exercising kaitiakitanga and those who have learned to live with compromise”.

It is intriguing to see how quickly the public perception of the issues around lhumātao have focussed on its effect on Treaty settlements and a split between kaumatua and rangatahi. Neither are relevant.

lhumātao has nothing to do with Treaty settlements with the Crown. The land in question was never part of any Treaty settlement. That fact does not detract from the significance of this land to Maori. Whether any land is part of a Treaty settlement is dictated by the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 and, since 1993, s.6 (4A) has precluded the Waitangi Tribunal from recommending the return of privately owned land or acquisition by the Crown of privately owned    land.

The current situation at lhumātao arises because of the interpretation of the provisions of the Resource Management Act 1991 by the Environment Court. In 1991 the Resource Management Act was seen as the beginning of a new era where Maori values and concepts, as well as Treaty principles, were embedded in the purpose and principles of legislation that dealt with matters of significance to Maori – ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, taonga and kaitiakitanga. And the Treaty principles identified early on included good faith, active protection and consultation. In reality, the Resource Management Act and its interpretation by an institution that reflects the majority culture has resulted in disappointment for Maori for the last 28 years.

That lhumātao is significant to mana whenua and to Maori is not in dispute. Manukau  City Council and the Auckland Regional Council recognised that fact in 2007 through district and regional plans designating the land as open space and therefore unable to be developed. This was done in recognition of its significance to Maori as well as to all New Zealanders and its relationship to the adjoining Otuataua Stonefields.

The landowners did not agree and challenged the Council decisions through the Environment Court seeking to rezone their land for urban development. At the hearing in 2011 and 2012 Makaurau Marae and Te Kawerau lwi Tribal Authority opposed any urban development on lhumātao and the evidence presented to the Court was clear that historically, culturally and spiritually this land was significant to mana whenua and Maori generally and was waahi tapu. There was no contradictory evidence presented. Even the historians and landscape architects accepted the evidence given by Maori witnesses. The Court in its decision acknowledged the special significance of the land to Maori and its historical significance to all New Zealanders. However, despite there being no evidence to support the position, the Court decided that the significance of the land to Maori could be accommodated within urban development. In essence the Court set aside specific provisions reflecting Maori values and concepts, that were recognised by local authorities, in order for a landowner to realise an increase d economic return. Such a decision reinforces the claims of institutional racism exercised by those with decision making power. And it reinforces the inequity whereby Court processes favour those who can afford to challenge Council decisions by lodging proceedings.

And that Environment Court decision in 2012 paved the way for the slippery slope of proposals for intensive urban development as a Special Housing Area on lhumātao. A collaboration between Auckland Council and the Government in 2014 that fast tracked processes and left those opposed with few options for challenge.

What lhumātao exemplifies though is the challenge we all have as kaitiaki. There is no question that some Maori can live with a compromise and approach situations like lhumātao on the basis that because everything is stacked against us, we have to try to get what we can given the circumstances. But that approach runs counter to being kaitiaki. The very essence of kaitiakitanga is an obligation to those who have gone before and to those who are yet to come – to our tūpuna and to our mokopuna. It is not a choice, it is a commitment we make to do all we can to protect our lands, our waters, our sites, our waahi tapu and our taonga for those who come after us. And that is what drives those at lhumātao who have been camped on the land since 2016.

lhumātao is not a clash between kaumatua and rangatahi. It is a clash between those exercising kaitiakitanga and those who have learned to live with compromise.