Te Putatara

a newsletter for the kumara vine

Issue No 1/96 - 24 December 1996


Te Putatara is published monthly by email by Te Aute Publications,
P.O.Box 408, Wellington, New Zealand. Edited by Ross Himona.
Copyright: Ross Himona. Feel free to print, copy and retransmit
but please acknowledge source.


Putatara! Putatara!
Ki te whai-ao, ki te ao-marama,
Tihei mauriora!
E nga iwi o te motu, e nga hau e wha
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Rebirth of a Newsletter
Te Putatara was launched in January 1988 during times of great
change for Maori people, and in an era when information was a
scarce commodity, and tightly controlled by agencies such as the
late (and entirely unlamented) Department of Maori Affair. It
dropped into an information void and exploded throughout the motu.
It became a very popular publication, loved for its political
analysis and comment, satire, humour, and straight out cheekiness.
At the same time it became a very unpopular publication in some
quarters, and it's publisher, editor, writer and ti-boy (all me)
became even more unpopular. So much so that a former senior
public servant (who shall remain forever nameless) hired a
very expensive Pakeha private defective to try to track down
the sources of my "inside information". The private eye failed
but he cost the public sector heaps of public dollars.
I stopped publishing Te Putatara at the end of 1990, largely
because of the cost; and also because it was a one-man band and it
became difficult to keep going. The information void has since
been filled by Mana Maori Media, iwi newspapers, iwi radio,
and a pilot Maori TV station. Maori people have never before
been so information rich. And information, we are often told,
is power. But is the void being filled? And is the information
For several years I have been under pressure from my very loyal
readership all over the country to start Te Putatara again. So
with the increasing spread of internet communications throughout
Maoridom I have decided to re-launch Te Putatara as an email
These are interesting times with the advent of our first MMP
coalition government, and with 15 Maori MP's in Parliament,
some of them as cabinet ministers in the Beehive, Te Whare Miere,
named by the late Rev Maori Marsden The House of Honeyed Deceit.
Will they make a difference? Or will they too become addicted to
the sweetness of that honey called power? Who will be watching
Have we become bogged down in Treaty analysis and Treaty
grievances? Just how much have ordinary Maori people benefited
from all the "advances" of the last ten years: fish, forests,
settlements and the like? And if ordinary Maori people are not
sharing in the gains, who is?
These and other questions will be addressed by the new Te Putatara.
No reira, rau rangatira ma,
nga mihi nui, nga mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa
mo tenei wa o te Kirihimete,
na Ross Himona.

Ten Years Ago
In the two weeks leading up to Christmas 1986 the so-called Maori
Loans Affair "scandal" burst upon a nation eager to hear of Maori
incompetence and corruption. Ten years ago on this day, on
Christmas Eve 1996, I was at a hui of Maori Affairs staff when
Don Hunn of the State Services Commission told them that their
Secretary and one of their Deputy Secretaries had been sent on
leave while their roles in the breaking scandal were investigated.
It was the start of a period of great turmoil in Maoridom, the
beginning of the end of the Department of Maori Affair, and just
the beginning of a flood of anti-Maori feeling which was unleashed
throughout the country.
Indirectly that was the genesis of Te Putatara, for I was amazed,
appalled and horrified by the incompetence, dishonesty, petty
corruption, and naked power-seeking that I was witnessing in and
around the old Department of Maori Affair. I was equally amazed,
appalled and horrified by the methods used by the then National
Opposition spokesman for Maori Affairs, Winston Peters, to expose
the whole affair. Perhaps I was a little politically naive in those
days. Perhaps Winston and I have both come a long way in ten years.
He certainly has.
Winston of course went on to become Minister of Maori Affairs
himself, left the National Party, and is now Leader of NZ First,
Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer.
Koro Wetere, then the target of Winston's campaign, completed
six years as Minister of Maori Affairs, went into Opposition,
and has retired from Parliament with his honour and respect
Tamati Reedy, then Secretary for Maori Affair, retired from the
public service when his department was disbanded in September
1989. He is now at Waikato University, a post more suited to
his talents.
Neville Baker, then a Deputy Secretary, survived longer
than Tamati, became Maori Trustee under Wira Gardiner,
then was removed from office by Gardiner. Neville is now back
on contract to Te Puni Kokiri (Te Puni Koretake) and heads a
"Special Projects Team" advising the CEO, Ngatata Love. Neville
is keeping a very low profile.
In 1986 Ngatata Love was Dean of the Business Studies Faculty
at Massey University, a member of the Board of Maori Affairs,
Chairman of the Labour Party Maori Policy committee, and a close
personal advisor to the Minister, Koro Wetere. He advised the
Minister against borrowing offshore. Interestingly and ironically,
he is now CEO of the Ministry of Maori Development under a
National/NZ First Government, with Neville Baker as a close
advisor; some say his main advisor.
I shall digress a little.
In 1988 I remember that Winston Peters made a great fuss
in the media about a "committee" that Ngatata set up in Manawatu
as a sub-committee of the Board of Maori Affairs to process
all Maori ACCESS funding for that region. As I remember the facts,
the "committee" members didn't know that they were on this
"committee" and when they found out, they complained to Minister
Koro Wetere about all this funding being distributed without
this "committee" having any meetings at all. That was a little
embarrassing for Ngatata but he got away with it, then went
very quiet for a few years.
Back to 1986.
Wira Gardiner, who was on contract to the Board of Maori Affairs
in 1986, had advised Neville Baker not to pursue the loans
through the Department of Maori Affairs. Wira went on to run
unsucessfully for Parliament, became CEO of the Iwi Transition
Agency, then CEO of Te Puni Koretake, the Ministry of Maori
Development. He has since retired to Ruatoria to raise consultants.
Bert Mackie, in 1986 a member of the Board of Maori Affairs and
a close personal advisor to Koro Wetere, was involved in stopping
the loans also. Bert has hung on at the centre
of power, and has been employed by Wira Gardiner and now by
Ngatata Love. Bert is Winston Peters' cousin.
John "The Survivor" Paki was a lawyer in the Department of Maori
Affair in 1986. He is now Maori Trustee and Deputy CEO of Te Puni
Koretake. In the late 1980's he and Rana "The Sheriff" Waitai
used to vie for the name of "Jake", because the other one of course
would be called "Fat Man". Rana is now in Parliament for NZ First.
Kia ora Jake! John Paki is Winston Peters' cousin. John's brother
Ben is also a senior official in Te Puni Koretake.
Dennis Hansen, who was involved with Rocky Cribb in setting up the
loans in Hawai'i, seems to have disappeared from sight. It was
Dennis who had lunch with Winston Peters and told Winston all about
the whole loan scheme. Rocky is running his own business.
At one stage in the early 1990's Tukuroirangi Morgan became a target
of the Pakeha private defective who tried to find out where Tuku
was getting the information for a story he was researching for TV3.
I think the story was about some of the Old Guard from the Department
of Maori Affair. Tuku is now in Parliament for NZ First, and is the
new Chair of the Maori Affairs Select Committee. He is Tau Henare's

And Now
The really interesting thing about this whole story is that the
wheel has turned full cycle. With Ngatata Love and Neville Baker
ensconced in Te Puni Koretake, the Old Guard is now back at the helm
with their old ideas, their old methods, and perhaps with
the old agendas and the cronyism of the Old Guard.
And the New Guard sits in and around the Minister's office.

The Future
I have been watching with interest as new Maori policies and funding
are unveiled by Tau. Much of it seems to be based on Winston's
policy document of February 1991, the one that eventually got him
sacked as Minister of Maori Affairs by Jim Bolger; the one called
"Ka Awatea". No doubt Winston has a deeply personal interest in
implementing "Ka Awatea" now that he is back from exile.
The problem is that although the research behind "Ka Awatea"
was quite well done, I believe that the conclusions and
recommendations were and still are seriously flawed. One has only
to look at Te Ohu Kaimoana (Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission)
to see why. One needs to have an appreciation of Maori politics and
of the power-seeking antics of would-be rangatira to know why.
One needs to have worked at the flaxroots to understand the
uselessness of much of what passes as Maori policy.
We don't need to empower and enfund any more in-between agencies
and units and commissions and pseudo-iwi and Maori politicians
and bureaucrats and Maori corporatists. We need to empower the
people to analyse their own situations and needs, to dream their
own dreams, to plan their own plans, to program their own programs,
to create their own futures, and to live their own lives,
rewardingly and successfully.
And for my part I have never trusted the Department of Maori Affair,
or any of its successors including Te Puni Koretake, to resist the
temptation to play political patronage and slush funds with any
public funds channelled through it.

Nga Kupu Whakamutunga
But for the moment, a te wa. I hear Hana Koko landing on my roof.
She brought us 15 MP's and 3 cabinet ministers for Christmas. But
the pohutukawa flowers late this year in Wellington. He tohu pea?
Kati ra mo tenei wa.
"Keep me from the man who says, "I am a candle to light the people
on their way"; but to the one who seeks to make his way through
the light of the people, bring me nearer."
		- Kahlil Gibran

email the editor at editor@maorinews.com