Monday, 7 February 2022

Thoughts On Waitangi Day, 2022.

Disputed Sovereignty: Politics as usual is no longer capable of delivering an Aotearoa worth living in. It is time for a new net to go fishing.


PERHAPS IT WAS just as well Omicron’s Red Light put paid to this year’s Waitangi celebrations. Too much is moving at speed on the front we used to call “race relations”. An embittered series of polemical exchanges on the Treaty Grounds would not have facilitated the clear and calm thinking so urgently needed on the nature and ultimate purpose of the “Treaty partnership”.

Such decisions as have been made: the new history curriculum, Māori representation in local government, the Māori Health Authority, Three Waters; have only whetted the appetite of an increasingly impatient younger generation of Māori nationalists. Those older activists who see the bi-centenary of the Treaty’s signing in 2040 as the best finishing post for a te Tiriti-based constitutional transformation will likely be disappointed.

Driven by the 15-strong Labour Māori Caucus, which must, itself, keep an eye on the even more unabashed radicalism of the Māori Party. Aided by a mainstream news media determined to make good the historical harms inflicted upon Māori by its deeply prejudicial coverage of New Zealand race relations. The drive towards constitutional transformation has acquired an momentum that cannot now be easily, or painlessly, slowed.

Interviewed by leading Māori journalist Julian Wilcox for the first broadcast of RNZ-National’s new programme, Māpuna, on Saturday (5/2/22) newly appointed Māori Land Court judge, Aidan Warren, warned of the growing impatience evident among rangatahi. It is becoming increasingly difficult for older Māori, Warren observed, to counsel patience successfully. Simply pointing to the rapidly increasing numbers of strategically located Māori professionals is no longer enough. Māori society is experiencing that most frightening of social phenomena, a “revolution of rising expectations”.

Armed with the well-honed arguments of Māori lawyers, historians and political activists, and marching to the beat of their own musicians, young Māori activists are unlikely to wait another 18 years for the construction of a new, te Tiriti-based, Aotearoa to be completed. After 182 years of Pakeha domination, the emerging consensus among young Māori activists seems to be that the time for waiting is over.

What, then, are they likely to make of David Seymour’s “State of the Nation” address of last Friday? (4/2/22) In what some commentators have already described as an updated version of Don Brash’s in/famous “Nationhood” speech to the Orewa Rotary Club, Seymour offers those New Zealanders yet to be persuaded of the need for a te Tiriti-based constitution the following, potentially inflammatory, propositions:

The next Government will not be able to simply stop doing new things that divide New Zealand. We will have to actively push back against the divisive idea that there are two kinds of New Zealanders.

We will need to remove the constant references to the Treaty from the law and replace it with a commitment to liberal democracy. One person, one vote, and equality for all in a multi-ethnic nation state.

It means removing co-governance structures from healthcare, from resource management, infrastructure, and education. It means going through the statute books and removing the distinctions in law that hold my Māori ancestors as legally different from my European ones.


The election of a National-Act government in which the balance of right-wing parliamentary forces made the implementation of these highly contentious policies a non-negotiable element of any coalition agreement would be potentially calamitous. The immovable object of right-wing Pakeha resistance to te Tiriti-based constitutional change would meet the irresistible force of youthful Māori nationalism (with plenty of Pakeha allies in tow). Something, or someone, would have to give up – or in.

It probably wouldn’t be Māori. As AUT’s Ella Henry told Moana Maniapoto in the course of Māori Television’s excellent Waitangi Day programming: when set against an historical backdrop extending back 3,000 years across the Pacific, the 200 years of Aotearoa’s European colonisation is just “one bad day”.

There was a time when those same European colonists spoke piteously about “smoothing the pillow” of the dying Māori race. And yet, the tangata whenua are still here.

Would voters really be willing to test the practicality of Act’s programme to effectively roll back the judicial, institutional, political and (most importantly) the economic and social progress made by Māori over the last 50 years? More to the point, would National? How many New Zealanders, when push came to shove, would be willing to embrace the repressive measures necessary to nullify the inevitable Māori resistance? Is it not more likely that a majority would opt to avert such a potentially tragic course by voting for a less combustible coalition?

But, even if they did, the challenge of te Tiriti-based constitutional transformation remains. Would it not be better for Labour, the Greens, and even National, to grasp the nettle and simply hand over the whole question to a constitutional convention?

Using the recent Chilean constitutional convention as a model, the first stage of the process would be the nationwide election of delegates. Not only would this require the four-fifths of the population who are non-Māori to decide what sort of future they favoured, but it would also require the Māori promoters of a te Tiriti-based constitutional transformation to come out from behind the closed doors where, to date, so much of the detailed discussion of what their new Aotearoa might look like has taken place.

Māori have, quite understandably, been reluctant to state too openly, or with too much detail, exactly what their preferred future would look like. Their preference has been to let their revolution unfold from the top down in a series of fait accomplis impervious to popular challenge from below. To spend the next 18 years very slowly boiling the Pakeha frog.

The consequences of this strategy are already ominously clear in Act’s reactionary propositions. If “co-governance” is perceived in terms of 15 percent of the electorate imposing its will on the other 85 percent, then it’s a non-starter. Which is why, as many of the participants in Moana Maniapoto’s Waitangi Day discussion were at considerable pains to explain, co-governance should be viewed not simply as a means of restoring Māori mana, but also of radically expanding the horizons of all the human-beings who have made Aotearoa their home.

Do Labour and the Greens have the courage to demand that all New Zealanders either put up, or shut up, by voting for or against the constitution eventually presented to the electorate by the Convention? Does National?

The colonial state of our fathers is slowly but surely breaking up. If we are to avoid Antonio Gramsci’s “morbid symptoms” – the product of an old system that is dying while its successor struggles to be born – then all of us will have to find the courage to dream dreams and see visions of an Aotearoa in which both tangata whenua and tauiwi can grow and flourish.

Politics as usual is no longer capable of delivering an Aotearoa worth living in. It is time for a new net to go fishing.


This essay was originally posted on the Interest.co.nz website on Monday, 7 February 2022.

23 comments:

David George said...

The egregious duplicity of this government in hiding it's intentions regarding He Puapua says a lot. a lot about the likely reception to such a programme and about what an untrustworthy and corrupt bunch they really are.

Why would the "boiled frogs" go along with all, or any, of this. Would they be willing to do what's required (at the polling booth and beyond that if necessary) to ensure the continuation of democratic nationhood? When the alternative, ethnic based nationhood, is fully understood I believe they would so full credit to Seymour and commentators such as professor Elizabeth Rata for keeping the issues alive in the public sphere.

"we need to recognise that the ideas which fuel ethnic politics are well-established and naturalised in this country and that the politicisation of ethnicity is underway”. Fifteen years later the He Puapua Report shows the progress towards ethno-nationalism. Why has this racial ideology become so accepted in a nation which prides itself on identifying and rejecting racism?

Apart from the success of culturalist intellectuals in muddying the waters between inclusive and exclusive biculturalism, activist judges have played a significant role. New Zealand’s democratic system is based on political decisions made by elected representatives who are accountable to the people. The judiciary is required to interpret laws made by politicians. However, the Court of Appeal’s 1987 reference to the Treaty of Waitangi as ‘akin to a partnership’ set in motion the development of principles for such a partnership and for their inclusion in legislation. From this time, judicial activism in Treaty matters has influenced political decisions. The He Puapua Report unquestioningly accepts and promotes an activist role for the judiciary. Its writers suggest that the “co-governance structure would require a Tiriti body or court to regulate jurisdictional boundaries between the respective governance entities”.

Ethnic fundamentalism is no better, no worse than the myriad of other fundamentalisms that some individuals impose upon themselves (or have imposed upon them) to give their lives meaning. It becomes a danger to liberal societies regulated by democratic politics when ethnicity is politicised. By basing a governance system of classification and categorisation on historical rather than contemporary group membership, we set ourselves on the path to ethno-nationalism. ‘He Puapua’ means a break. It is used in the Report to mean “the breaking of the usual political and social norms and approaches.” The transformation of New Zealand proposed by He Puapua is indeed a complete break with the past. For this reason it is imperative that we all read the Report then freely and openly discuss what type of nation do we want – ethno-nationalism or democratic nationalism?"

https://blog.elizabethrata.com/2021/06/30/elizabeth-rata-ethno-nationalism-or-democratic-nationalism-which-way-ahead-for-new-zealand/

Anonymous said...

https://www.americanpurpose.com/articles/emotions-run-high-in-the-land-of-descartes/

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"How many New Zealanders, when push came to shove, would be willing to embrace the repressive measures necessary to nullify the inevitable Māori resistance?"

Quite a number probably – including almost all those who crap on about vaccine mandates being akin to the Holocaust and the like. They're not averse to a few repressive measures as long as they're on the side of repression, and not the (fake) repressed.

Jens Meder said...

What other way for both tangata whenua and tauiwi to grow and flourish can there be than to aspire towards at least a "middle class" level of wealth ownership by all citizens eventually, with the have-nots and underprivileged assisted to participate in the wealth (e.g. home) ownership creative effort ?

Is that not more constructive and humane than destructively fighting for wealth from each other ?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The egregious duplicity of this government in hiding it's intentions regarding He Puapua says a lot. a lot about the likely reception to such a programme and about what an untrustworthy and corrupt bunch they really are."

Not doing a very good job of hiding it if you know all about it I would have thought David.

Unknown said...

More Sabre rattling from a motley group of malcontents picking up a buck or two by including a dubious degree attached to the sabre.

Nothing to see here

David George said...

So many questions suggest themselves.

Suppose we accede to the demands of an "increasingly impatient younger generation of Māori nationalists" and cobble together a constitution incorporating those demands. How long will it take till all ethnicities are entirely equal across multiple dimensions: health and longevity, income and employment, education and qualification, housing and wealth, crime and punishment? Is that possible? Do we even know the real reasons for the disparities and the answers to them? What are the unintended, negative consequences of such a plan, the degradation of core principle of equality under law for instance. How to account for the lack of any proper definition of what constitutes a Maori in the first place or, through intermarriage, the increasingly mixed racial make up of the population?

What happens when this imagined state of perfection duly arrives as promised? A big national hui and a return to a non racist, democratic, constitutional arrangement?

The whole thing has all the ingredients of a monumental disaster.

greywarbler said...

I've got the perfect example for that '“morbid symptoms” – the product of an old system that is dying while its successor struggles to be born'...this piece on Radionz of the crime scene cleaners in NZ putting gruesome pictures of their job on-line! Here is a modern attempt to have higher cleanliness and performance standards after a bloody fracas or collision, but contracted out to mindless, buck-earners. I think they have become brutalised by television which diminishes people's reality and prepares us for minimalisation to a box-sized future of pseudo soft-sided hardware without humanity.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/461064/cleaners-post-crime-suspected-and-attempted-suicide-scene-photos-on-social-media

Anonymous said...

to David George (above):I guess "civil war" falls well within the ambit of 'monumental disaster' !

Barry said...

What I cant see is the end point of all the ferment.
So my great grand children will be fluent in Te Reo and they will be able to do haka (properley) and they will all believe that their ancestral immigrants were awful nasty people who stole everything they vould see.
And there will be an unbalanced form of forming a government but......
The country still has to operate
It will need a viable economy.
It will need far greater welfare money than it currently needs.
It will need a much better health system that it currently has.
Obesity will be rampant.
Climate change will be a serious problem as countries around the world disagree of who pays
And so on ........
And I cant see how young maori radicles have any idea how to handle this. It seems that they think that winning some political battles will solve all the problems.
Co governance wont pay the bills or solve obesity and diabetes or reduce the need for more and more welfare.

Trev1 said...

Long holiday weekends are perfect for going on a bender Chris but this is ridiculous.

David George said...

Yes Anon, I suppose civil war is a possibility.

Alternatively Chris has suggested a new constitution based on a sharing of power based on racial identity be developed and put to the people. Given that the current bunch of weasels decided that the people no longer had the right to even decide on their local body race based representation it's hard to imagine them, at least, choosing the democratic road to the nation's future. Their intentions were hidden from the voters at the last election, the agenda rolled out afterwards and the so called public consultation a cynical farce.

I don't know of any free, prosperous and just society that operates a separatist model of government. Anyone else? Lebanon has power sharing along ethno/religious/tribal lines. Perhaps that dystopia is the most successful example.

David George said...

The people have woken up. A further slide for the government in the latest (January) poll with National now ahead of labour for the first time since the election:

Parliamentary seats projection:
Labour 42 (-23 from election)
National 45 (+12)
Greens 13 (+3)
ACT 17 (+7)
Maori 3 (+1)

Governments:
Labour/Green 55/120
National/ACT 62/120

Still a long time until the election but the trend is clear.

https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8892-nz-national-voting-intention-january-2022-202202072332

John Hurley said...

What do you make of this Chris?
Lianne Dalziel signing off Canterbury Regional Council representation/ partnership agreement with Ngai tahu
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxeqzOZC-0E

John Hurley said...

As Portia told Shylock: "..Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh…” " “no jot of blood.”

WE need philosophers (not post-modernist).

greywarbler said...

David George I noted your 'the people no longer had the right to even decide on their local body race based representation'...
But have I misunderstood that the government have supported a race-based representation, based on biculturalism of the founding fathers so to speak. If that is the case they have just taken away the right of people to refuse to include important others, and made local councils more democratic.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/300274525/mori-representation-matters-and-local-councils-want-to-hear-mori-voices--thats-democracy
I note National Mp Stuart Smith speaking for the right as he always seems to.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/436410/maori-wards-a-voice-on-local-council-grounded-in-the-maori-world-view
A legislation change in 2002 which allowed councils to set up Māori wards was intended to improve this, but the binding referendum provision has vetoed almost all council moves to establish a Māori ward in their district.

Only two of the 24 councils which have tried to set it up have been successful, leaving locally elected representatives frustrated their attempts to be better Treaty partners have been thwarted.
Former Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull said the provision was inconsistent with the principle of equal treatment enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi.

greywarbler said...


david george at 14.01 The trend is clear - confusion and downward slide as a country whoever gets in. I suggest you don't sound so sanguine.

Kit Slater said...

The far Left’s policy of fragmentation and identity politics seems to show itself in the arrogant assertiveness of Maori, employing a subsidiarity that doesn’t exist in civilised society to anywhere near the same extent. This could easily morph into aggressive assertion, given Maori culture’s propensity for violence. I wouldn’t write off the possibility of civil war, and its adversaries will make for interesting bed-fellows (or bed-fullas).

David George said...

Thanks Grey.
"they have just taken away the right of people to refuse to include important others"

Given that Maori, under the current system, have greater representation in councils than their proportion of the population there is hardly a "refusal to include" issue that needs addressing. Further, councils have very specific mandated requirements for consultation with Maori that are not required for non Maori "important others". The creation of specifically Maori only wards could, perversely, well see fewer Maori on councils than currently.

The primary objection to separatism is one of principle, the entrenchment of a neo tribalist ethno nationalism into the formerly democratic structure. David Cull is talking nonsense if he believes separatism somehow means "equal treatment" or that such a course was or is "enshrined" in the Treaty.

"Ethno-nationalism has political categories based on racial classification - the belief that our fundamental identity (personal, social and political) is fixed in our ancestry. Here the past determines the future. Identity, too, is fixed in that past. In contrast, democratic-nationalism has one political category - that of citizenship - justified by the shared belief in a universal human identity."

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/06/opinion-ethno-nationalism-or-democratic-nationalism-which-way-ahead-for-new-zealand.html

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Arrogant assertiveness? That's what they used to say about Martin Luther King and his followers. Among other things. It's always arrogant isn't it when people you despise decide to speak up in the political system to try to make gains and achieve equality.
Maori culture's propensity for violence? You know that your ancestors, assuming they were British, fought a war approximately every 18 months during the 19th century right? Tell me again how the Maori propensity for violence is different to anyone else's? Typical example of right wing racism, which gives the lie to the idea that we are a racially tolerant society.

Kit Slater said...

Guerilla Surgeon - "racism" - the ‘progressive’ Left's response of blind ideological stupefaction to anything they don’t understand. Like culture.

GS: “Tell me again how Maori propensity for violence is different to anyone else’s?” OK. Subsidiarity. Look it up. Compare it with Weber’s description of the state (the concept of which does not exist in tribal societies such as Maori) as any organization that succeeds in having the exclusive right to use, threaten, or authorize physical force against residents of its territory. Succinctly described as “the state having the monopoly on violence.”

For examples of Maori violence, “Te Aorerekura, the Action Plan for the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence, was finally produced by Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson. It is strongly informed by indigenous knowledge, it is centred on the Māori way of justice: the restoration of mana and whakapapa, healing, and the reintegration (rather than demonisation) of people who have used violence.” Dominion Post 8/12/21. “Maori women three times more likely to be killed by partner…80% will experience violence from a partner…” RNZ 2/3/20. “Rates of violence are higher for Māori, migrant and New Zealand-born non-white women, and disabled women, so rates of brain injury are likely to be higher in these populations. Women who have brain injuries may find it harder to present themselves in court when fighting for protection orders or custody.” Dominion Post 8/1/22. “Maori make up 62% of the high-security prison population but only 16% of the NZ population.” ABC RN Drive, 6/5/21. And Paul Moon’s ‘This Horrid Practice’ goes into visceral detail of Maori culture’s propensity for violence. It’s also why they make good soldiers and security personnel.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Kit. In spite of your protestations, racism is sometimes simply racism.

Kit Slater said...

GS: No it isn't, think deeper. One of the fundamental attributes of animals is ingroup amity, outgroup enmity. The ‘progressive’ Left thinks this can be overridden by social engineering, but this creates other problems since it is antithetical to instinct. ‘Progressives’ use ‘racism’ as a ‘thought-stopping cliché’ since they can’t think beyond their ideology. But they fail to understand that ingroup/outgroup attitudes shape society in forms of tribalism, team competition, identity and identitarianism, trust/distrust and so on. Race is simply an ingroup/outgroup identifier and can be overridden by cultural assimilation and outbreeding. Exacerbating cultural difference is a high-risk tactic. ‘Progressives’ support this in party-political terms to encompass constituencies and raise their voter base, unaware of consequences, which itself is symptomatic of immaturity and why ‘progressives’ want to encourage the youth vote. Yes, there are racists, but understanding the cause and solution are well outside the ‘progressive’ ideological purview.