Regional | Andrew Little

'Untapped' Māori knowledge way forward for NZ

Ngāti Kahungunu iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana says untapped Māori knowledge is "the way forward for us as a country."  Photo/File.

Māori have a great resource of untapped knowledge that can help move the country forward, an iwi leader says.

Ngāti Kahungunu iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana told Te Ao with Moana that Māori knowledge acquired over hundreds of years is a resource that can offer the country a fresh way of doing things.

"So I believe that the western systems that we’ve been using for the last 250 years are almost tapped out. Yet prior to that, we had a thousand years of splendid isolation where we developed our own tikanga, our own protocols, our own ways of doing things, that have never been tapped into and I think this is the way forward for us as a country," Mr Tomoana said.

The comments were made during the second of two Te Tiriti o Waitangi specials broadcast on Māori Television at 8.00pm on August 20th and 27th.

Mr Tomoana was following up on remarks by Professor Jane Kelsey of the University of Auckland who described the treaty relationship between the Crown and Māori regarding trade negotiations as "dismal".

"If we're dealing with the area I deal with which is trade negotiations I mean it's dismal. It's really dismal because the Crown doesn't actually see any treaty relationship of any form of equality in those negotiations," she said.

Professor Kelsey said Māori "might as well be on the moon" trying to interest the Crown in trade strategies.

"We had a really good hui on what an alternative trade strategy could look like," she said.

"Let's have a strategy that's about building relationships, that's based on principles of reciprocity and that invokes tikanga, and that says let's look after communities and how do we build communities, and how does our trade strategy serve that. So we have a genuinely treaty-based approach to how we engage with the outside world and within Aotearoa.

"But you might as well be on the moon when you talk to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade," Professor Kelsey said.

Mr Tomoana said it was important that the Crown drew on Māori knowledge and that they worked together to take the country forward.

"We need to tap into our way of doing things, and bring those together and work forward together," he said.

"Now, we have the processes, we have the ability, we have critical mass and we’re unafraid of going head-to-head with anybody locally, nationally, internationally.”

Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little said the treaty settlement process is recognising Māori potential.

“I think that what Ngahiwi represents is one of the products of the treaty settlement process, is that it restores a sense of confidence.

"Sure it doesn’t provide restitution but it restores mana and a sense of identity and the confidence of iwi and hapū to give impetus to their voice.”

Mr Tomoana was a panellist, with Treaty Minister Andrew Little and Professor Jane Kelsey, on Te Ao with Moana.

WATCH the second of our two specials episodes on Te Tiriti o Waitangi here.
Part 1 - How just do you think treaty settlements are?
Part 2 - How hard is it to progress treaty settlements in a coalition government?
Part 3 - Has the fisheries settlement made a difference at the grassroots level?