New Myths and Old Politics

New Myths and Old Politics

The Waitangi Tribunal and the Challenge of Tradition

‘I am concerned that in this great intersection of law and history, to which the Treaty and its outcomes have condemned us, we might begin to so devalue our past, that our history and tradition become mere opinion, blown by political winds and fanned by incessant gusts of media opportunism.’

Negotiating a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal can involve troubling challenges to an iwi’s legitimacy, sometimes from unexpected places. In this unique behind-the-scenes account of the negotiation of Ngāi Tahu’s Waitangi Tribunal claim, Tipene O’Regan describes what happened when claims of New Age mysticism attempted to undermine traditional whakapapa and academic scholarship.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Jun 2014
Pages: 76
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9781927277669
ISTC: A02201400000555E
DOI: 10.7810/9781927131992

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Read this review of New Myths and Old Politics by Bruce Harding, NZ Studies Network

Read an article about New Myths and Old Politics on Ngāi Tahu's website


Given Sir Tipene’s recent role as co-chair of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, the decision of Bridget Williams to re-issue this essay in an amended short book form as part of the BWB Texts series is to be welcomed. One also hopes that the digital format will help this paper to reach a younger generation of readers and citizens … The re-issue of this elegant (and updated) argument is indeed timely, reminding all thoughtful citizens of Aotearoa-New Zealand of our need for a thorough-going modern constitutionalism. This is a serious and strenuous text, happily punctuated by pungent and witty ‘O’Reganisms’ which serve to leaven the author’s important messages, Bruce Harding, NZ Studies Network

This pithy book is well worth reading, for it provides us plenty of the gritty detail only a staunch insider to the negotiation process – here Tipene O’Regan – could provide. Vaughan Rapatahana, Scoop Review of Books

In lieu of alluring mysticism, Tipene argues convincingly for the necessity and possibility of ‘solid evidence about our [Māori] past’. His view is that this is achieved by ‘the mundane business of applying scholarly standards to Māori tradition and history’, in tandem with a functional knowledge of whakapapa, which he endearingly describes as simply ‘a task of intellectual management’ … Tipene’s defence of empirical truth is refreshing as is the role he envisions for academic disciplines in pursuing it. Michael Stevens, Te Karaka, Spring 2014