Queen to say sorry to the Maori people

THE QUEEN has agreed, in effect, to apologise for colonial injustices suffered by the Maori people in New Zealand.

Her Majesty will personally give the royal assent to a New Zealand Act of Parliament explicitly acknowledging the injustices suffered by a Maori tribe whose lands were confiscated following a treaty signed by her predecessors.

Normally, the royal assent to New Zealand legislation is given on her behalf by the Governor-General. But on this occasion it will be signed personally by the Queen in London. The New Zealand government balked at a Maori proposal that she read out a statement of apology in New Zealand in November when she is due to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. But Douglas Graham, the minister responsible for land claim negotiations with the Maori people, said "there were no difficulties with the Palace" over her signing the royal assent.

So far as is known, neither the Queen nor her predecessors have ever previously apologised for anything.

The apology stems from the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between the Maori chiefs and the Crown, by which Maori sovereignty over New Zealand was given up in return for guarantees of ownership over lands, forest and fisheries. Within 20 years however, the colonial government began wholesale confiscations. The Tainui people of the Waikato - to whom the Queen's apology will be addressed - had three million acres confiscated after the land wars of the mid-19th century, although they remained loyal to the Crown. The land was then sold to British settlers.

It was only in the 1970s that the government began a piecemeal programme to redress the injustices, but Maori claimants demanded that the Queen be involved in the reparations.

"Maoris always saw the treaty as a personal relationship between the royal family and the Maori people," explained Buddy Mikaere, a Maori and the director of the Waitangi Tribunal which is responsible for processing land claims. From the 1880s on, delegations of chiefscame to London to put their grievances to the monarch. But on the advice of the New Zealand government and the Colonial Office, Buckingham Palace remained closed to them.

The decision to make reparations for the land confiscations was not taken lightly, and has opened a hornets' nest of grievances between the Maoris and pakeha (white New Zealanders). But Mr Graham says the problem of confiscated land could not be allowed to fester for ever.

He added that a queue is forming among other tribes for settlements on the lines of the Tainui deal, which returns about 30,000 acres and a payment of pounds 69m.

Buddy Mikaere said: "Many pakeha say that New Zealand was built on the sheep's back, but Maoris say the sheep were grazing on Maori land." They will never get all that land back but the government is gambling that, with Her Majesty's help, it is doing enough to remove the sense of grievance over its loss.

Leading article, page 24

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk