Govt banned report – Nga Toku Tu Moana: Maori Leadership and Decision making report

Govt banned report – Nga Toku Tu Moana: Maori Leadership and Decision making report

Commissioned by Te Puni Kokiri and titled “Nga Toku Tu Moana: Maori Leadership and Decision making” and published in 1992, the reports distribution was banned by former Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon Doug Kidd.

A sourced copy of the original report here. Disclaimer: I do not know the origin of the report. But there are some libraries with a copy.

The authors were: Sir Monita Delamere, Bishop Manuhia Bennett, Te Makarini Temara, Kate Walker, Kawana Nepia and Sidney Moko Mead.

I am shocked that any government commissioned report that empowers Māori or in the very least offers an historical account of Māori society can be banned by a New Zealand government, let alone by a non Māori minister. I dare say that such actions today with widespread access to mass media distribution of the Internet and Maori owned and controlled media that this may well be the first and last time in New Zealand we will see the government ban such a document again.

I was made aware of the document while reading a thesis scanning for references and readings to use in my study for Masters in Māori and Indigenous Leadership at the University of Canterbury. The following quote from Yvonne O’Brien (Hawke) in her Waikato University MBA thesis submitted in 2013 stirred my interest:

In 1992, Te Puni Kokiri commissioned a remarkable report called ‘Nga Toka Tu Moana: Māori Leadership and Decision Making (cited in Pihama, L. & Gardiner, D., 2005). It was prepared to assist Iwi and government departments in understanding Māori leadership and mandate issues. Astonishingly, the report was banned by a Minister of the Crown. This therefore explains why I have been unsuccessful in attaining a copy of the report though the references used in this research have been cited in other reports.

Sidney Moko Mead added his chapter from the report to his book “Landmarks, Bridges and Visions. Aspects of Maori Culture, published in 1997 which offers a more detailed first hand account of the experience. Below is an extract from the introduction to that chapter.

The report ‘Nga Toku Tu Moana: Maori Leadership and Decision making’ is a remarkable document. It was prepared under instruction from the Ministry of Maori Development as a way of assisting iwi and various government departments to understand issues of Maori leadership and mandate.

The whole question of mandate became very important after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Sealords deal, by which the Crown invested $150 million on behalf of Maori in Sealords, a large fishing company. A debate followed about who had authority to sign, what was the basis of their mandate, and whether they were self-appointed or mandate leaders.

It therefore came as a complete surprise when the Minister of Maori Affairs, Doug Kidd banned the distribution of the report of Ng Tuara, the group of elders appointed by the chief executive of Te Puni Kokiri, Wira Gardiner, The elders were Sir Monita Delamere (deceased), Bishop Manuhuia Bennett, Te Makarini Temara (deceased), Kate Walker, Kawana Nepia and me. ‘Nga Toku Tu Moana; must stand alone as the only report baned by a Minister of the Crown so that information prepared by Maori for distribution to Maori about leadership was banned. We were accused of criticising the Sealords deal.

I have taken out of the report a chapter on “Traditional Maori Social Groups’ which I wrote. The title has been altered to focus on leadership. The information is straightforward and hardly a matter to be banned.

Nga Toku Tu Moana: Maori Leadership and Decision making. Prepared by Nga Tuara, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry of Maori Development, pp.8-21, 1992.

Dr Ranginui Walker also mentions this paper and others in his publication Nga Pepa a Ranginui published in 1996.

Although the papers were a primarily a critique of Māori leadership, the Minister, Doug Kidd, was incensed at the view expressed that the Māori negotiators had surrendered the moral high ground of the Treaty of Waitangi for 150 pieces of silver. He was aggrieved that a Government funded publication, put out by his own ministry, was critical of the Sealord deal. The minster suppressed any further distribution of the papers. So much for democracy. The minister’s actions served only to stimulate a demand for the papers and a spin-off for the photocopying industry. 

In 1992 the Internet was accessed at a great expense via a dial up modem at maximum of 28kbps and uptake by households was very limited and relied on large slow computers that by today’s standards didn’t offer much in terms of storage or functionality. We also did not have Māori Television and various other independent Māori media. Therefore it is understandable why there was no mass outcry to the banned distribution of the publication and why there was no online activism on the web about the banned document.

Today, anyone with a digital device can copy documents and spread them anonymously on the Internet and World Wide Web and online activism takes many forms and is performed by anyone with an interest of passion on a topic.

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