"Towards a Positive Treaty Partnership in the Post-Settlement Era”: Treaty of Waitangi Settlements and Decolonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand
Settlements of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims present a unique opportunity to provide redress to Māori for the past and ongoing grievances committed by the Crown, and through that redress and the accompanying focus on improved relations, to decolonise the relationship between the two. Despite this opportunity, there is a wide body of literature that suggests the outcomes of these settlements instead will perpetuate colonisation and uphold the political structures which allow for the on-going dispossession of Māori. This thesis argues that existing Treaty settlement policy can be viewed as a continuation of the legacy of colonisation by stealth, entrenching the power of the colonial state while simultaneously offering redress and apologies for past grievances of the colonisation process which do not adequately challenge the underlying structures which give rise to those grievances. It is further argued, through the example of political rhetoric from the 2014 general election, that current political discourses support the implementation of colonising settlement policies and that those discourses reinforce notions of Western settler superiority. This thesis explores a number of perspectives on settlements and decolonisation which support the claim that historical Treaty settlements perpetuate rather than challenge colonisation. I argue that the pressing concern emerging from the thesis is that the Crown can be to seen to be directing the Treaty relationship to a post-settlement world where the negotiated outcomes of Treaty settlements and the parties to them are the end point of colonisation and represent the future dynamic of the Crown-Māori relationship.