Liz Mellish Executive Officer for Wellington Tenths Trust and Palmerston
North Maori Reserves address to the residents of Village at the Park Villas.
Kia Ora Katou ! Immediately I suspect you’re going to wonder why the Palmerston North Maori Reserve is mentioned in our discussion today and it’s probably the first thing I need to clear up. The Wellington Tenths Trust and the Palmerston North Maori Reserve are sister trusts and they both relate to Wellington and the Hutt Valley. They were set up as a result of the actions that happened in 1840 and later years with the then Governors of the day but particularly Governor Grey who we had a long and involved relationship but I want to take you back a little bit earlier than 1840. I want to take you back to a much earlier time. First of all we want to talk about Wellington when technically there was nobody here. When it was bush, when the huia was still flying, when the large eagles were still flying in the Hutt Valley. Guess what ! We had the largest eagle in the world in New Zealand but it’s obviously now not here. Kupe came and I guess we’ve all heard about Kupe because there are various parts of Wellington that are named for Kupe and he was a Polynesian traveller who had heard about New Zealand – how of course we don’t know, but he came. He explored, he brought family with him and he went back to the Islands and post that, the canoe people came, the fleet came and there’s many theories about how the fleet came and how many wakas there were and did they come together – we expect not. I’m not going to go into that long and detailed history – there’s much better scholars than I can tell that story. But what I will say at the turn of the nineteenth century – that’s the early 1800’s there was major upheavals throughout New Zealand and the major upheaval was a result of the advent of the whalers and the sealers and the guns, and the understanding that we Maori who were living in New Zealand at the time had a bigger world to explore. And amongst all the toing and froing that went on between various tribes, we as a people, that is Te Atiawa Taranaki Whanui and that’s the Taranaki decided to move down to Wellington and that was the result of huge discussion between tribal elders and it’s a very complex history which would take me hours to tell you about and I won’t go into that one too long but it does put our connection to Taranaki firmly there.
When we shifted from Taranaki down to Wellington the first place we took up residence was at Waikanae and we still have a mare at Waikanae and we still have members of our iwi living there, so imagine this, we’ve got part of our iwi still resident in Taranaki then we’ve got a base in Waikanae, further from that we moved into Wellington. Some of our people, Ngati, Ngati Tama in particular then moved onto the Chatham Islands and some of our people moved to the top of the South and talking to this lovely lady here who’s just about lived in every one of our places in her travels around New Zealand – Te Atiawa are in those four places.
Unlike other iwi that have always lived in a contiguous place we’re in four different areas of New Zealand but we’re all one and the same people because we have the same whakapapa and the whakapapa is the thing that defines us and that’s really our family tree, its our genealogy and for us its somewhat the basis, Aunty June, for everything that we live for is our whakapapa. So I have to preface my story to you on those things, that we lived in those four places and in Wellington we had the Hutt Valley and Wellington city and so we were round the harbour and there are pa sites that we’ve got recorded. Pa that you cant see today but very clearly obvious and in Wellington the major ones were Te Aro Pa, which is about Courtenay Place, Taranaki Street, College Street and believe it or not it ran right through to Island Bay – if you took away all of the built in environment you could see the link between Lambton Harbour and Island Bay and that was the area for Te Aro Pa and along the hills on both side were cultivations – all the way out here, all the way cultivated. There were areas we called Mahinga Kai where we would gather birds, there were other areas where there were very good stands of Hinau and we would gather fruit
from there. There were other places where we got Rongoa, Rongoa being our herbal medicines to keep us well so this was a hugely active area and it makes sense because if the weather was lousy out here and we know it can get pretty lousy out there in Cook Strait you could gather food because our major sustenance was seafood. You could gather food at the inner harbour so Te Aro Pa was very big and very important and the interesting thing is that Aunty June has a really strong whakapapa link to Te Aro Pa.
Next to Te Aro Pa was another Pa and this was on Lambton Quay and it’s called Kumototo and at Kumototo that was where business was done, funny how things haven’t changed ! But it is where the business was done, where decisions were made, where trading, all of those negotiations – was Kumototo Pa. Where chiefs came to discuss that business. Next to Kumototo on Thorndon Quay was Pipitea Pa, that was also a very large Pa, so if you think about these Pa more as a farm, you had an area where the houses were which we call papa kainga, but we all know to live you had to grow food, you had to harvest, you had to have places where you tended to the sick, where you bathed, where you did all those other things. These were large areas that, you know, really took up the whole of the inner harbour on the Wellington side. Next to Pipitea Pa were smaller Pa along each river running around to Kaiwharara where there was another Pa and that ran up around Wadestown and through Ohariu and out to the South Coast and then just up a little bit further at Ngauranga another Pa and that of course that was really to manage that way, that road through to Porirua. So nothings changed from when we were in occupation to when the settlers came. And moving around the harbour at Petone was another very large Pa and then there was one at Hikoikoi on the right hand side of the Hutt River and one on the left hand side, that was Waiwhetu. And of course the islands in the middle, Matiu Island also had Pa sites. So that in actual fact we could see out to the Heads, right up the Hutt Valley and across to Wellington and I don’t know if you’ve had a trip to Matiu Island ~ have you at all ? You have – and if you get up to the top what you see is amazing because you’ve actually got a wonderful military place and its interesting that the gun implacements are here. And talking to that gentleman over the back about the wars and Fort Dorset and so on – why did they put gun implacements on there – because very clearly you could see anything coming into the harbour, you could protect.
So I think my first message is that where we were was the logical place for the settlers to come, I want to talk about The Settlement because I think that’s also important. Some of the questions have already been raised about the Wakefield brothers and their family, who were a very interesting family, who whilst they were in prison in England because they had abducted an heiress they devised the colonising plan for New Zealand and wrote a book about it. And that book and that colonising theory is the beginnings of The Maori Tenths Trust and the Palmerston North Maori Reserves. Now the interesting thing about the Wakefields – they looked at colonisation and if we think about this time – this is the early 1800’s America had been settled and the First Nations Peoples had been put onto Reservations, Australia had been settled by the convicts and the Aboriginal People were forced onto Reservations too. All around the world as those European countries expanded and it wasn’t just England – it was also Spain and France and Germany, they went into South Africa, they came into Indonesia and all of those places, the theory about colonisation was slightly different for every country as it was for New Zealand. And New Zealand’s colonisation was based on this Tenths and the idea was that rather than shifting us as the First Nations People or the Aboriginals or Maori or whatever it was they wanted to call us – they didn’t want to put us together in a reservation they decided what a good idea to put us on every tenth acre. So a plan was drawn up of Wellington city and the Hutt Valley and Nelson and New Plymouth and the land was divided into acre sections and believe me they did this in London, they hadn’t been to New Zealand yet !
But they had maps that had been done by whalers and sealers and so on so they took a punt and they divided the city up into one acre blocks, they also divided the valley into hundred acre blocks so that you had a town section and a rural section. The rural section would support your living in the town and that what they would do is they would sell the one tenth, the acre sections, to settlers and they’d draw their lot out of a ballot but every tenth section would be for a Maori family and that’s the way we were to become closely allied – and dare I say it – civilised ! Well, well laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry and when the deal was done with the Wakefields, the chiefs at the time not only asked for the tenths but their pa sites and cultivations and urupa – urupa being the cemetries. Well I’ve explained to you where our pa sites were, they were the best sites in the city, so logically we had to get moved out of there, logically our cultivations were the best soil, the best sun and the best water and that wasn’t going to help the settlers. So we had a very disturbed and convoluted time in those 1800’s. And thinking about the settlers, they’d come out of issues in the British isles – issues that not long ago they had fought Napolean. They had to make money to pay for that war because it had crippled the king. They had driven clearances in Scotland, there was what was going on in Ireland, and all of this believe it or not impacted on what happened here. And when we talk about what happened here we have to think about what was going on over there. And you can’t think about what happened here without understanding what was going on in Europe. So all of those things are happening and Maori are learning to cope with all of that. And I guess when you look at it we haven’t done too bad really in New Zealand in spite of all of those ideas and those well laid plans.
When The Tenths were set up it was to be administered by the governors and the church and you know, the leaders of the time and they weren’t administered from a Maori point of view very well at all. And we lost most of our tenths. And that happened over quite a long period of time really, from 1840 when we signed The Treaty here in Wellington – and we did sign it – on the 29′ April on a ship called the Ariel (sp) um, our tenths were mail (?) administered and land was taken. Areas like the Town Belt. Wonderful idea and we don’t dispute that it’s a wonderful idea but it’s our land, we weren’t paid for it, they just said we’re going to have an inner Town Belt and an outer Town Belt and we’re going to take it from you because it’s good for the city. And we had no options at all about those types of decisions. Our lands were administered right up until 1977 by various government departments including the Maori Trustee, the Native Trustee, the Public Trustee and various other … benign managers. In 1977 we’d had enough and said you know frankly we’re actually quite well educated, we’re perfectly able to manage our own estate. So we set up, we still weren’t allowed to completely take it over, and so a set of trustees was chosen by our people and sat alongside the then Maori Trustee. By 1987 the government agreed that in actual fact we were quite capable of making good decisions and we could actually take over the administration.
But the administration was still to be managed by a Guardian Trustee and we still have that Guardian Trustee sitting there today. However over time we have managed to wrest the duties from the Guardian Trustee to ourselves and that’s why we now have an Executive Officer which is actually a really new phenomena – it’s only been in existence for five years. So we’ve struggled and we’ve shown determination to manage our affairs and to manage them profitably for our people because we see that as a way of enabling our beneficiaries to improve their education, their housing, their health and their outcomes in this country. And the better we can do it the better we see it assisting this country because we’re determined to be very good corporate citizens. We care about the country and Te Puni who was the man who signed the deal with the Wakefields in the first place left us a mission and the mission was that we had to take care of every person, be they Maori, be they Pakeha or be they any other nation who came to live in our city.
And that’s the philosophy that we have used to develop all our policies and to enable our thinking and investments. And it’s that policy that’s led us to this development here at Village at the Park. And I can talk to you about what the Park meant to us but it was locked away from us for over 100 years by the Rugby Union. And we had pretty horrific battles with the Rugby Union because of the rent. The rent here was minimal. It was minimal because we were governed under an Act called The Maori Reserve Land Act and that Act meant we could never take more than 4% of the unimproved land value. We could never charge more than that. We were always constrained, ah, but we could see the Rugby Union could charge whatever they liked, and they did, and one of our whanaunga worked for the Rugby Union and you’ve heard about her and that’s Rawinia Buchanan. Interestingly enough her son Leo, Doctor Leo Buchanan, is one of the directors on Village at the Park today so there’s a nice synergy in those relationships. But we struggled with the Rugby Union and when they decided they were moving to the stadium that Fran Wilde was driving we supported the move because we felt we had this wonderful land in the heart of the city that we could be utilising much better for the benefit of the citizens of Wellington and our beneficial owners.
We had in 1990 built a retirement village in Palmerston North and that village is still in existence, it’s a mature village and we had seen then the sense of building that type of a facility. So that gave us the courage to look at what we could do here. What could we do on the Park ’cause it’s a big site as you all know and we had to fit in with the Council rules, we had to design it to fit Council design guides and policies. We had to think about what could we do here. We certainly couldn’t do anything industrial and to take the model that we’d developed in Palmerston North and place it here was the way we felt we should go and that’s why we made the decision to build a village at the Park. And we talked to various rugby players, old All Blacks, about you know, how they felt about that and they, we actually got encouragement from them because they said, you know, if they wanted to retire, to think they could retire to this place which was so well thought of in rugby circles was a great thing. And lan Hurst of course we all know was an All Black and he knew Ngatata through rugby things which was, you know, one of the reasons they got together. So currently the Park is run by a joint venture company between lan Hurst, Terry Pratley and lan Hurst’s family and our family. And our directors are Sir Paul Reeves who you all have known of and of course he’s a Newtown boy, born and bred here and Doctor Leo Buchanan and of course our chairman Doctor Ngatata Love.
So we feel we’ve made all the links back here and maintained an active interest in this land. I mean it’s interesting this land was not a pa site, there is a stream running through it. It was reclaimed and filled in, it was a farm in the early 1800’s and it went from being a farm to you know, ah – subdivisions as Wellington itself expanded. But in the 1800’s this was actually a dairy farm and it had a stream which I understand is still there, um, but I’m not an engineer so I’m not – it will run between here and the hospital under the new blocks. So it’s an interesting place with a much and varied history and I’m sure some of you could tell more stories about this Park than I could. But I think that’s really the story in a nutshell. What I have brought is a wee map which shows the area of interest that we have still here in Newtown. And all of this was Tenths. This was all awarded by the government. And if you look at this map and that’s Adelaide Road there and this is Wharepouri Street which is obviously over the back here and everything that is this colour is Village at the Park. Everything that’s in blue is called Wellington Tenths Leasehold land. Now that there is South Wellington Intermediate School – that’s the big piece of blue and we own the land, we don’t own the buildings. The pink stuff is land that we own and we also own the buildings on top. So you can see we’ve got a few places in Wharepouri Street on this corner over here we own them, on that corner down there, again we own it outright and then we have land title and you know, you can see that little driveway over the back there, that’s actually part of the Village at the Park complex as another access way should we ever need it into the Park. To the north, again we have land and buildings that we own and then we have land that we own but not the buildings on top and over time we may well change that but that’s not where our emphasis is at the moment. Our emphasis really is on developing this place and getting it to completion.