Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bad mainstream reporting on Maori, example 743

The National Business Review online reported today that "Ngapuhi leader" David Rankin reckons Ngapuhi Runanga is heading for a financial crisis over what to do with the $66 million in fisheries settlement assets it received last month.

"We have known for thirteen years that this settlement was coming, and in all that time, the Ngapuhi Runanga failed to develop a plan for managing and allocating the money. Now, they have received $66 million and they are scratching their heads, wondering what to do with it," Rankin said.

No comment from runanga chairman Sonny Tau. No context. So the story is, "Maori confirms NBR prejudices, Maori can't handle money."

Normal reporting practice is to give readers some context as to how much authority or credulity someone has. This rule doesn't seem to apply to stories about Maori. MBR tries to fudge it by saying Rankin "heads a group of (unnamed) Ngapuhi kaumatua and academics", as if it meant something.

Te Runanga o Ngapuhi is a democratic organisation. If Rankin can't win the confidence of enough of his fellow tribespeople to be elected, what makes his criticisms so compelling?

Rankin describes himself as a direct descendent of Hone Heke - a considerable feat, as Heke had no issue. The Rankins do come from the same descent lines as Heke, so no argument there. His grandfather was Hone Heke Rankin, a leading figure in Northland Maori life from the 1930s until his death in 1964. Hone Heke Rankin's mother, Matire Ngapua, was the daughter of Niurangi Puriri and Hone Ngapua, a nephew of Hone Heke Pokai, treaty signatory and flagpole feller.

Because of the Hone Heke connection, Rankin and his father have tried to claim ascendancy in the north since the death of Sir James Henare. Ngapuhi tend to be even more suspicious to claims of arikitanga than most Maori, and while they respect a distinguished whakapapa, they aren't about to bow down before it.

Rankin is able to make contributions to Ngapuhi on a cultural level, even if he cannot secure a mandate for political and economic activity. His Hone Heke Foundation oversaw the creation of an exhibition on Hone Heke at the Museum of NZ Te Papa this year, and it is attempting to create a museum in Kaikohe to display artifacts relating to Hone Heke.

In 2003 he got into a stoush with the Auckland War Memorial Museum over its refusal to supply Heke-related material to an exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra re-examining the role of Heke, Ned Kelly, Geronimo and other “rebels”. He tried to take two taiaha out of the museum, but failed to win support of other descendents. Rankin eventually loaned Canberra some items form his own family's collection.

The fact organisations like Ngapuhi Runanga are getting large infusions of assets is a significant business story, which the business press should find ways to cover sensibly. That may require a bit of work to work out the metrics which make sense: profits, return on assets, amount and nature of returns to beneficiaries.

Merely providing platforms for disaffected tribal members to vent their individual spleen is not the way to go about it.
More illuminating is a piece from the Northern Advocate of September 22.

Runanga chairman Sonny Tau outlined some likely places revenue from the settlement will be spent:
- hapu economic development
- education scholarships
-preservation of tribal knowledge
- funding for resource management oversight (an unfunded or unfunded obligation on tribal groups under the Resource Management Act and other acts)
- Other business investments to build up iwi assets

Mismanagement of its fisheries portfolio was the major reason the previous runanga leadership was voted out. As the Advocate pointed, when Tau was elected chairman in 2000 Ngapuhi fishing company was $860,000 in debt after a decade of secretive deals and unwise investments.

"We got rid of the company boat and today, without the settlement money, that asset is worth $15 million and we have had $4 million in the bank from its operation," Mr Tau said.

This year Ngapuhi fished deepwater quota leased from the commission in a 50-50 joint venture with Northland Deep Water, and on-leased inshore quota to Ngapuhi fishermen at cost.


Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Thanks for this 'little look behind the scenes.' Will be interesting to see how Ngati Hine go when it's their turn. Are they next cab off the rank?

10:35 PM  
Blogger francis said...

so, Rankin is NOT an important and influential member of the iwi and the iwi HAS a firm investment plan?

1:01 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Ngati Hine might not secede after all, in which case it will share in the Ngapuhi settlement - which makes sense, since much of the value Ngapuhi is able to extract is because of economies of scale.
And Francis, right on both counts.

10:26 AM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Very interesting post. I'm coming back for more!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Cathy Odgers said...


Lets use a bit of paragraphing and formatting, this is hard to read.

Otherwise pretty good.

3:48 PM  
Blogger David and Pat Ross said...

Appreciate your thoughts on David Rankin on my blog at :http://kaikohe-kia-ora.blogspot.com/
Am well acquainted with local Ngapuhi interests

8:54 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

This article is not only tiresome, but poorly written... I could not stretch to 'otherwise good' unless I had to compare it to the minutes of Kaikohe City Council meeting June 1st 1937 written by an illiterate idiot savant

9:08 PM  

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