January 23, 2014
Finally, justice is served with jail term
OPINION: It was good to see that justice was done last week when anti-treaty campaigner Allan Titford was jailed for 24 years on sex and violence charges.
Titford gained a high profile in the 1980s and early 90s when he fought the crown over ownership of his farm in Dargaville.
A Waitangi Tribunal recommendation said that his farm should go to the Te Roroa iwi.
The iwi had claimed that 38 hectares of the property had been included in the farm land title by mistake, decades ago.
Titford bought the farm for $600,000 in 1986 but the claim from Te Roroa Maori scared away potential buyers and Titford said he was forced to sell to the Crown for $3.25 million in 1995.
Titford is one of the primary people responsible for the misinformation and lies that have been told about Maori in terms of Treaty settlements over the last 25 years.
He claimed that he was discriminated against by the Crown because he was white and accused Te Roroa of occupying his land, rustling his stock and damaging his bulldozer. Much of what he said has now been disproved.
He became the spokesman for poor farmers who he said were being taken advantage of by greedy Maori and was part of an era of ignorant racism directed towards Maori. Titford labelled Maori ‘gangsters' and ‘terrorists' while he attacked sacred Maori historic sites and even bulldozed a preserved pa site.
At his hearing, Judge Duncan Harvey said it was time for New Zealanders to learn the truth about a man who had become a symbol of the perceived failings of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.
Titford was never a victim of the Te Roroa, he was a liar and even burned down his own house in an attempt to frame the iwi.
The effect he had should not be underestimated.
His lies were swallowed by mainstream media and politicians. He influenced government's thinking which led the Jim Bolger-Tory government to pass a law preventing the return of privately owned land to Maori as part of Treaty settlements.
And when Don Brash was running his 'one law for all' campaign, he admitted that Titford was an influencing factor for him.
He created paranoia amongst Pakeha who thought that a Zimbabwe-type situation was going to occur here where people would be ordered out of their homes.
While governments have got on with the treaty settlements programme, things could have been much better if Titford hadn't been involved.
Maori compensation has been minimal compared to the scale of the loss and it might be time for an urgent review of the process given that decisions made about compensation were based on the Titford fantasies and experiences – now a confirmed liar, arsonist, fraudster, violent and a sexual offender.
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