2018 Conference

Sir Tīpene O'Regan - The survival of Indigenous Identity – Why bother?

Over the past 30 years New Zealand has been engaged in the settlement of Treaty of Waitangi Claims brought against the Crown by Maori tribes. These settlements have varied greatly in quantum and in their particular terms as a consequence of the differences in their historic circumstances. The outcome  has been the transfer onto Maori collective ownership of in land, property fisheries and other instruments.  Figures vary greatly but it seems safe to predict that the cumulative collectively owned Maori economy will comprise some 15-20% of GDP within the next 30 years. Some say sooner.

The challenge of indigenous governance in the generation and distribution of this wealth is, however, considerable. First there is the challenge of maintaining and growing real capital wealth over time and intergenerationally. Successful precedents are rare.  Second there is the cultural and political leadership required to maintain an inter-generational kaupapa. Third there is the evolution of a collective philosophy of purpose of sufficient aspirational strength to achieve the first two!

It is contended that the only functional purpose of this recovered wealth is the intergenerational protection, maintenance and growth of indigenous heritage and identity. If a tribal nation’s history, identity and  cultural competence do not survive there is no point in preserving wealth over time. It makes more sense to cash up now and let our people merge into globalised anonymity.