A Long Time Coming: The Story of Ng'i Tahu's Treaty Settlement Negotiations with the Crown, by Martin Fisher

AuthorRachael Evans
PositionLecturer, School of Law, University of Canterbury
Book Review
Review of A Long Time Coming: The Story of
Ngāi Tahu's Treaty Settlement Negotiations
with the Crown, by Martin Fisher
(Canterbury University Press, Christchurch 2020)
Reviewed By Rachael Evans*
My f‌irst at tempt at readi ng A Long Time Coming by Marti n Fisher was on my
summer ca mping trip to Ka iteriteri.1 I had a cop y of the book, signed by Fis her and
Tā Tipene O’Reg an, and I w as determ ined to enjoy it i n the Tasma n sunsh ine. An
accident with a lo osely capped water bottle a nd a toddler put paid to th is dream. I
pegged the s aturate d book to the camp clothesl ine, and it swung i n the sea breeze
with the t ogs and towels, an i gnoble end to a copy of an excellent t ext.
In 2021, Te Rū nanga o Ng āi Tahu (T RONT) is one of the Sou th Island’s mos t
inf‌luenti al entities. Th e octopoidal re ach of the iwi has e stablishe d a strong presence
in the priva te and public sectors. To u nderstand the grow th of the tribal s tructure
from an imp overished Māori Tr ust Board to t he powerful corpor ate entity th at is Te
Rūnan ga o Ngāi Tahu with n early 70,000 regis tered members, A Long Time Coming
is a must-read .
Fisher beg ins wit h a brief hist ory of Te Kerēme, the Ng āi Tahu Cl aim. It i s
impossible t o understa nd this s even-generation st ruggle w ithout appre ciating
the injus tice and bread th of Te Kerēme. Fish er covers the basic s eciently, before
taki ng the reader th rough the Te Tir iti o Waitan gi/ Treat y of Waitangi pr ocess to the
f‌iling of t he Ngāi Tahu clai m by Rakii hia Tau Snr in 1986.
The substa nce of the book cover s the 1992–199 8 negotiation p eriod. Fis her
explain s how the primar y sticking point for bot h the Crown and Ngā i Tahu was the
issue of quan tum. The Crown’s own a ccountant s had valued the res erves that should
have been set aside for Ng āi Tahu at between $14 bi llion and $18bill ion. This posed
a problem to the Crow n, who had no money and a lot of polit ical pressure to set tle
fairly but e ciently. Fisher adept ly summa rises how negotiations br oke down to a
point of collap se between 1994–199 6.
Te Rūnang a o Ngāi Ta hu Act 1996 es tablishe d a corporate le gal person alit y for
the trib e. This prompted the renewa l of negotiations, wi th the signing of a he ads of
1 Marti n Fisher A Long T ime Coming: e sto ry of Ngāi Tahu’s treaty set tlement negoti ations with the
Crown (Cant erbury Unive rsity Press , Christc hurch, 2020).
* Lecturer, School of La w, University of Ca nterbury.

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