ON HIS POLITIK WEBSITE, Richard Harman reveals how Environment Minister David Parker upset the co-governance project. Labour’s Māori Caucus saw co-governance becoming a central feature of Parker’s Natural & Built Environments Bill – the legislation poised to replace the Resource Management Act. On the all-important regional bodies established by the legislation, it was assumed that 50 percent of the seats would be reserved for Māori, leaving the rest for the rest.
According to Harman, Parker refused: successfully facing-down the opposition of Nanaia Mahuta and the Māori Caucus “in what may be seen as a defining move by the Government, which has been under fire over the Three Waters co-governance proposals.”
While Harman is undoubtedly correct to interpret Parker’s successful resistance as an important straw in the wind, it would be wrong to count it as a total victory. As Harman, himself, went on to report, the proposed clause in the Natural & Built Environments Bill which states: “that in achieving the purpose of this Act, those exercising functions and powers under it must give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi”, remains intact.
It is important to remember that the co-governance project is justified as a way of giving effect to the principles of the Treaty. Fifty-fifty representation is promoted as the political expression of the supposed Treaty “partnership”. The Natural & Built Environments Bill isn’t out of the woods yet.
Even so, the fact that a Labour cabinet minister has taken a stand against co-governance – with the support of both a Cabinet and a caucus majority – is an extremely important political development. Without Labour, the co-governance project could never have progressed so far. If Parker’s stand is emulated by other Labour MPs, then co-governance will be stopped in its tracks. Neither the Greens nor the Māori Party have the numbers to push it forward against Labour resistance.
What Harman’s reporting makes clear is the alarm which even rumours of Parker’s resistance generated. The Māori Council and their corporate iwi allies – represented by the former National Party Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson – took their concerns to the Waitangi Tribunal. While legal niceties prevented the Tribunal from releasing a definitive judgement on co-governance and the Natural & Built Environments Bill, it did suggest that its absence from the legislation would be undesirable.
Clearly, the Tribunal has become an integral part of the co-governance political machinery: a body of sufficient mana to offer cover for both the project and its political sponsors. The same applies to much of the media, academia, and – more worryingly – the courts. And yet, even this impressive line-up of allies could not hope to save co-governance if it was openly repudiated by a Government.
How far would the co-governance project have proceeded had John Key not agreed to ratify the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? How could the Treaty’s “principles”, and its expectations of “partnership”, have been embedded in so many Acts of Parliament had not successive governments declined to take issue with them? The co-governance project may not be the historical offspring of senior National and Labour politicians (like Geoff Palmer and Chris Finlayson) but they certainly provided the room in which it was conceived.
Only now, and only to thoughtfully stubborn individuals like David Parker, is the extraordinary naivete and arrogance required to facilitate the co-governance project becoming clear. It simply did not occur to those Pakeha politicians who set about creating a Māori middle-class to keep the increasingly restive Māori underclass from setting the country on fire, that their creation might one day turn on its creator. Locating cultural and ideological enemies at the very heart of the colonial state was never likely to produce a happy ending.
Extracting these racial revolutionaries from the strategic locations they have occupied in the course of their “long march through the institutions” is not going to be easy. Judges, in particular, cannot be removed without a great deal of fuss. Ideologically-driven public servants, academics, teachers and journalists are similarly well-placed to defend the “gains” of the racial revolution. And then there’s the younger generations of New Zealanders. These youngsters may not be intellectually or emotionally equipped to challenge the radical orthodoxy of their revolutionary mentors, but they are more than equal to the task of inflicting a lot of harm on their behalf.
All of which adds up to a difficult and potentially dangerous mission should Mr Parker and his Labour comrades agree to accept it. They will have to re-learn both the liberal-democratic catechism of universal human-rights and freedoms (the freedom of expression in particular) as well as the good old democratic-socialist creed that bound the Labour Party and the Ratana Church together so tightly all those years ago. Fortunately, they have at least two very important things going for them. 1) Most New Zealanders – Māori and Pakeha – do not want co-governance. 2) The electorate will reward any government that has the guts to say: “This far, but no further!”
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 3 November 2022.
Carefully and fairly said Chris.
Democracy as practiced in this country is but one form of democracy. It is something fairer than First Past the Post, which in its turn was a great improvement on earlier so-called democracies here that excluded women, end even earlier excluded Maori.
It would of course be a great mistake were we to consider that what we have is the best there is, given some rising interest in the Single Transferrable Vote, which whilst clumsier, is arguably a better means of achieving democratic representation than what we have.
Of course improvements can be sought.
However the current 'Co-Governance' drive, based on 'Principles of the Treaty', nowhere featured in the three paragraphs of the Treaty itself, is akin to expensive bridge-building to castles in the air. It's nuts.
No matter how it is looked at it contributes nothing to the concept of one citizen, one vote. In fact it rolls our concept of representation backwards to a time when groups or classes were excluded or inhibited from participation, not hard to do when we look at what is going on in some US States currently.
This country is at a dangerous crossroad right now. Democracy has been spoken of as a dictatorship of the majority, with some real truth. When it becomes a dictatorship of a minority as it did in White South áfrica, Hitler's Germany, or Stalin's Russia, rule can only be perpetuated with terror and blood, many examples existing in the world today.
A minority group in this land, allied with a current government, is working towards such an end.
(AMR 18 Nuffield Av Napier)
What's in and what's not in the treaty? I tell you what's in, and that is that Maori was supposed to keep their land and treasures. That was honoured more in the breach than the observance, particularly in the 1860s and onwards. So if we going to argue about what's in and what's not in the treaty, perhaps we should start with that. But I don't see anybody advocating giving Maori huge amounts of land back. I don't see anyone on the right advocating for this.
What planet is this country on? Since the end of WWII New Zealand has entered into binding treaties (of which UNDRIP is not one) that establish the basic standards for human rights and good government globally. These include the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Universal and Equal Suffrage and freedom of speech are protected under these commitments which have been ratified by New Zealand and implemented into law. The are not trumped by the grotesquely distorted re-interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi promoted by extremists. New Zealand is well on the way to pariah status if it continues down the co-governance path.
The Waitangi Tribunal is there just for that, returning confiscated or embezzled property and rights. A lot has been done with more to come to uphold article 2 of the treaty. It was set up for all the right reason and intention. However, the Tribunal has also been up to quite a bit of mischief in the last few decades, cherry picking snippets of history to propagate a myth of co governance. Documented history would overwhelmingly refute this myth if push came to shove. This is going to be the unravelling of New Zealand democracy if this troublesome interpretation is allowed to continue .
Guerilla Surgeon said...
What's in and what's not in the treaty? I tell you what's in, and that is that Maori was supposed to keep their land and treasures.
As Chris wrote: "for what part of NZ was NOT at some stage the property of Maori tribal collectives?"
That puts you in hater and wrecker category. I presume you have a burn it to the ground and new dawn mentality.
As Thomas Cramner is arguing about Te Urewera where they are burning huts and intend to remove bridges, it is a bit of a stretch to call this "co-governance". On the other hand, Findlayson irritatedly calls people opposed to co-governance "racist".
This is where gut intuition comes in: "a house divided upon itself cannot stand". Jon Haidt says humans are "deeply intuitive creatures" and those intuitions are based on our evolutionary journey (learned from past experience/natural selection).
The same argument shows the difficulty in creating a multi-ethnic state.
Physical resemblances and cultural practices became mechanisms to distinguish US from THEM and where necessary as humans became the apex predator and needed to bond in large groups.
Gut feelings are invoked when immigration is high at the NATIONAL level upsetting the ethnic balance. The current understanding of racism is that it is trite "we are superior to them"
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