Island Life by David Slack

One Last Try

If the sharemarket assessment is accurate, Telecom is all out of options. The tide of competition is rolling in, and they will have to put down their cocktails and get up out of their deckchairs. But could we all be getting ahead of ourselves? What about the Treaty?

The Waitangi Tribunal
141 The Terrace

The Honourable Pita Sharples
Minister of Maori Affairs
The Honourable Gerry Brownlee
Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Parliament Buildings

1 April 2009

You will recall that in 2006, the organisation formerly known as Telecom issued a declaration of identity as a Born-Again Maori Trading Enterprise (BAMTE) on the anniversary of its purported alienation by the Crown in 1990 to American investors.

The organisation asserted its rights to be identified as Te Lekomo, a hapu of the Monopoli iwi, and demanded that the Crown desist from any measure large or small which might interfere with the full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of its landlines, phisheries and all other digital taonga protected under article two of the Treaty of Waitangi.

In particular it asserted its customary rights as Monopoli to make a killing in all its traditional hunting grounds.

We will shortly be issuing our findings, and summarise them below, as you requested.

The Monopoli have been hitherto little known to Maori scholarship; however, as the report will show, the iwi has been able to produce an impressive body of historical evidence tracing the history of this enigmatic and somewhat withdrawn group of people along ocean-going pleasurecraft routes to their ancestral home of the Cayman Islands.

Our findings deal principally with evidence presented at the site of Tribunal hearings in a traditional Corporate Marquee on Takapuna Beach where the hapu's sacred Southern Cross Cable comes ashore.

Much of the evidence took time to interpret, especially those files which had been shredded.

In total, 14,983 files from 1367 wine boxes were inspected by specialist forensic and taxation specialists, and inquiries have taken much longer than initially anticipated.

However the totality of evidence has left the tribunal in little doubt.

We have found that the Crown has not acted in a manner inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty in relation to any facet of 21st century telecommunications. There is clear evidence that most signatories to the Treaty were adept surfers; a cultural heritage which endures to this day. To impede the right of any other iwi to engage in any form of surfing, be it by water or net, would be to create a fresh injustice.

Furthermore, notwithstanding the principle long-recognised by this tribunal that the confiscation of property can frequently be shown to have been unjust and oppressive, it is not therefore correct to assert that all abrogation of property rights can be so described. The Crown drew our attention to the history of AntiTrust legislation in the United States of America, which we note to be the home of the Chicago School of economics. In particular we note the compelling comparison made by the Crown in relation to the dissolution of AT& T under the Reagan administration, which era the Crown somewhat colourfully characterised as "any libertarian's economic wet dream"

It was also suggested to us that the spiritual identity being asserted by the representatives of Te Lekomo and Monopoli was no more than "a koru-emblazoned flag of convenience"

We hesitate to make judgment on that matter, given that the consequence of our findings will have the same effect whether the evolution of Telecom into a BAMTE is artifice or not.

We do note in passing, however, that it did seem a little fanciful for its Chief Executive to note of her childhood in Rotorua that such an experience was sufficient to qualify anyone as a person of First Nation status and that, to use her words, if it were not so, then she was a Dutchwoman.

We further thought it a strain too far on our credulity to suggest that a deceased Jack Russell terrier named Spot possessed spiritual qualities from which Senior Executives derived guidance of the most profound character and that the announcement of the deregulation proposals had brought upon no fewer than 14 middle managers an incontrollable urge to bark like a small dog. A saying comes to mind: He tutae nui tenei, or as reporters have been sometimes overheard to say in the marae car park, what a load of shit.

We therefore suggest that the Crown need feel no anxiety about reviving the strategy which has come to be known colloquially as "nuked DSL." In the words of the old snooker players, Mau e timata. Your break.

Na Judge Shane Jones
Presiding Officer