PACIFIC ISLAND ISSUES:
MĀORI LEGAL SCHOLAR ROBERT JOSEPH ON “RECONCILIATORY JUSTICE” AND
CHAMORU SCHOLAR-ACTIVIST JULIAN AGUON ON “WHY MICRONESIA MATTERS”

by
D. Kapua Sproat, Visiting Assistant Professor
Susan K. Serrano, Director of Educational Development


The Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law promotes education, scholarship, community outreach and collaboration on issues of law, culture and justice for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific and Indigenous peoples. This semester, the Center has increased its emphasis on Pacific Island rights and issues by hosting two exciting presentations: Reconciliatory Justice: Addressing Historic Injustices Against Indigenous Peoples featuring Māori Legal Scholar Dr. Robert Joseph, and Why Micronesia Matters: Present-Day Realities of the U.S.-Micronesia Relationship, with Julian Aguon, a Chamoru human rights scholar and activist.

Reconciliatory Justice: Addressing Historic Injustices Against Indigenous Peoples

On Tuesday, August 21, 2007, the Center hosted Reconciliatory Justice: Addressing Historic Injustices Against Indigenous Peoples with Dr. Robert Joseph, a Māori legal scholar from the University of Waikato and a Research Fellow with the Te Mātāhauariki Institute.

Dr. Joseph’s talk focused on his “Eight Rs” of Reconciliation, using as examples the Treaty of Waitangi, Waikato post-Treaty development, and the Raupatu Grievance process. He framed his discussion within the traditional Māori world view and Māori history, both Pre- and Post-Western contact. He described the cultural and ideological motivations underpinning the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi of 1840, from both the Māori and British viewpoints. He also outlined various aspects of the Treaty, including sections on Governance, Sovereignty, Equal rights, and Māori rights and customs. He then briefly explained post-treaty history, including the ensuing political corruption, wars, legislation enacted against the Māori, confiscation of Māori lands, and, finally, the grievance process established by the Treaty.

Dr. Joseph introduced and explained his concept of “Reconciliatory Justice,” which includes a process of: overcoming denial, exploring appropriate future relationships, co-existence, fostering equity rather than subjugation and domination, and empowering Indigenous peoples with resources for successful and sustainable development. In conclusion, he described his eight “Rs”, or “giant steps” toward reconciliation:

    • Recognition – truth finding and telling
    • Responsibility - acknowledgement
    • Remorse – apology
    • Restitution – right imbalance, land
    • Reparation – financial compensation
    • Re-design - laws & institutions
    • Refrain – prevent repetition
    • Reciprocity – utu

Why Micronesia Matters: Present-Day Realities of the U.S.-Micronesia Relationship

On Thursday, October 11, 2007, the Center hosted Why Micronesia Matters: Present-Day Realities of the U.S.-Micronesia Relationship, featuring Julian Aguon, a Chamoru human rights scholar and recognized activist within the international community on Micronesian and Chamoru issues. Julian is a second year student at the Law School and the author of The Fire this Time and Just Left of the Setting Sun.

Julian received the Cohen International Human Rights Fellowship from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation to conduct research throughout Micronesia during the summer of 1997. His work culminated in a third book, What We Bury at Night, which is about to be released. Julian shared images and insights from his travels and read excerpts from his new book to a packed house of about 150 people. In addition to participants from the Law School, a wide range of community representatives and dignitaries from throughout the Pacific were on hand for a thoughtful yet critical discussion of Indigenous people’s struggles throughout the Pacific with a range of international human rights issues, including the militarization of society, impacts of nuclear testing, globalization of the economy, and other issues that threaten to both destroy the viability of rural, island communities, as well as the sustainable values and cultures that bind them together.

Mahalo to Tammy and Danny Smith and Hakipu‘u Learning Center for the delicious refreshments!