Tuesday 24 January 2023

What Is Co-Governance?

Two Flags, Two Masters? Just as it required a full-scale military effort to destroy the first attempt at Māori self-government in the 1850s and 60s (an effort that divided Maoridom itself into supporters and opponents of the Crown) any second attempt to establish tino rangatiratanga, based on the confiscatory policies required to give it cultural and economic substance, could only be achieved militarily. That is to say, by fighting a racially-charged civil war.

CO-GOVERNANCE presents New Zealanders with the most acute constitutional challenge since the Land Wars of the 1860s. Paradoxically, it would be a considerably less vexing problem if our ancestors truly had been the colonialist monsters of contemporary “progressive” folklore. Had the defeated Māori tribes been driven onto and confined within “reservations” – as happened to the Native Americans of Canada and the United States – instituting co-governance in the 2020s would be a breeze. Likewise, if the National Government of 1990-1999 had opted to create the New Zealand equivalent of “Bantustans” (self-governing ethnic enclaves) instead of instituting the internationally celebrated Treaty Settlement Process.

The central difficulty of the Treaty Settlement Process, as so many Māori nationalists have pointed out, is that it cannot offer more than a fraction of a cent on the dollar in terms of the current value of the Māori lands alienated under the laws of successive settler governments. To recover these from their present owners would require the outlay of hundreds-of-billions of dollars, a sum well beyond the means of even the New Zealand State – let alone individual iwi.

And yet, as the Waitangi Tribunal’s recent finding in relation to the Ngapuhi rohe makes clear, the establishment of authentic rangatiratanga is virtually impossible without the land that gives chiefly authority its political heft. With all but a tiny fraction of New Zealand presently under the control of the New Zealand State, its Pakeha citizens, and a not insubstantial number of foreign owners, any discussion of co-governance is inevitably reduced to sterile arguments over Māori representation on city councils and other public bodies.

That’s why the true underlying agenda of those who preach the gospel of co-governance can only be the re-confiscation of the tribal territories lost since the Land Wars. This may sound far-fetched, but it is not impossible. As Māori discovered in the 1860s, and subsequent decades, all that is required to deprive a people of their lands, forests and fisheries is control of the legislative process, and the military force necessary to enforce the legislators’ will.

While Pakeha New Zealanders remained united in their resolve to construct a “Better Britain” on the lands confiscated and/or acquired (all too often by immoral means) from the country’s indigenous people, the notion of re-confiscation could be dismissed as an absurdity. But, if a substantial portion of the Pakeha population, most particularly those occupying the critical nodes of state power: the judiciary, the public service, academia, the state-owned news-media, and at least one of the two major political parties; were to become ideologically disposed to facilitate the compulsory restitution of confiscated Māori resources, then the idea would begin to sound a whole lot less far-fetched.

To see how it might be accomplished one has only to study the manner in which the government of the newly-declared People’s Republic of China secured effective control of the privately-owned elements of the Chinese economy. The Communist Party of China, in sole control of the nation’s legislative machinery, and assured of a compliant judiciary and civil service, simply required private concerns to make over an ever-larger fraction of their shareholding to the Chinese state. With Boards of Directors dominated by government appointees, and no prospect of ever recovering control of their enterprises, the “owners” reluctantly sold their remaining shares to the state (receiving only a risible fraction of their true worth). The smart capitalists, reading the writing on the wall, sold-up early and fled to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States. The one’s who hoped for the best, generally fared the worst.

With the news-media firmly under the Communist Party’s control, and the legal climate growing increasingly hostile to any citizen courageous enough to challenge the government’s policies, the transfer of private property into state hands was accomplished by the end of the 1950s – in less than a decade. It would have taken considerably longer if the People’s Liberation Army had not been standing behind the Communist Party’s legislators, civil servants and journalists. But, its willingness to apply military force to enforce the party’s will was never in doubt. In the words of the Chinese Communist leader, Mao Zedong: “All political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

How might a New Zealand parliament dominated by political parties favourably disposed towards co-governance set about transferring land held by private Pakeha/foreign interests to iwi authorities? One option might involve imposing all kinds of environmental and cultural obligations on landowners – obligations that could not be fulfilled without rendering the enterprise unprofitable. Crown purchase (at a fraction of the land’s true worth) would follow, allowing the state to amass a vast amount of additional  real-estate. This process would undoubtedly be speeded-up by the consequent catastrophic collapse in agricultural land prices, which only constant and massive Crown purchases could stem.

With most of New Zealand land now in the possession of the Crown, returning it to tangata whenua would be the obvious next step towards meaningful co-governance. The Waitangi Tribunal, or some other, similar, body could be tasked with delimiting Aotearoa’s iwi boundaries as they existed at the time of the Treaty’s signing in February 1840. (Given that many of these boundaries would have been extended, reduced, or eliminated altogether as a consequence of the Musket Wars of the 1820s and 30s, deciding who should get what would likely entail a fair amount of ‘robust’ negotiation!)

The critical question to be settled in order for this process to succeed is whether a pro-co-governance parliament could rely upon the Police and the NZ Defence Force to enforce its legislative will. That there would be considerable resistance to the government’s plans may be taken as given, with such resistance escalating to terrorism and a full-scale armed rebellion more than likely. With the outbreak of deadly race-based violence, the loyalties of the Police and the NZDF would be tested to destruction.

Just as it required a full-scale military effort to destroy the first attempt at Māori self-government in the 1850s and 60s (an effort that divided Maoridom itself into supporters and opponents of the Crown) any second attempt to establish rangatiratanga, based on the confiscatory policies required to give it cultural and economic substance, could only be achieved militarily. That is to say, by fighting a racially-charged civil war.

Some would argue it makes more sense to accept that the historical evolution of the nation of New Zealand has actually allowed Māori to enjoy the best of both worlds. Their language and culture endure alongside their iwi and hapu connections, all very much alive beneath the overlaid institutions of the settler state. 

That they are able to take full advantage of those institutions is due to the historical oddity of the colonists who created New Zealand not following the example of their white settler contemporaries and forcing the remnants of the indigenous tribes onto reservations – entities particularly suited to being “co-governed” in “partnership” with their conquerors. Instead, the Pakeha declared Māori to be full citizens, afforded them parliamentary representation, and laid the foundations of the bi-cultural society fast-emerging in Twenty-First Century Aotearoa-New Zealand.

If co-governance denotes a political system in which an indigenous people and the descendants of the settlers who joined them wrestle together with the legacies of colonisation – as free and equal citizens – then we already have it.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 17 January 2023.


John Hurley said...

Florence Nightingale wears a moko. That great institution was wrong all along:

and were you really talking Irihapeti about about uh cultural courtesy about about being being aware of the way certain peoples do certain things. Yes yes and to be aware how powerful we as nurses actually are we're extremely powerful particularly when people are sick what's been happening of course with with the women's movement is the women have just um pulled the Health Professions up short and said to them look Health Professions we want you to change we want you to look at what we're saying as consumers of your service and that's exactly what's happening here. Maori have started it they're saying hang on nurses you know let's run this past us again let us see how you can change your services because we've changed about as far as we can go and but what Maori say is what we say is the people who have designed this in nursing is we give this onward as a koha for all the other cultures in a sense Maori are breaking the ground and then the ground is open the way is open for the other cultures also to have their voice and have their say so this is a gift is it we're from Maoridom absolutely to all the other cultures who come to this country


Do the motte & bailey analysis:

and were you really talking Irihapeti about about uh cultural courtesy about about being being aware of the way certain peoples do certain things

the reasons for the inclusion of cultural safety, notably the very poor service Maori have received from health services in general

But the episode illustrated here demonstrates the considerable forces that are arrayed against any sort of innovation in the area of cultural sensitivity and in the way that the media in particular have narrowed the debate. It highlights the obstacles to consideration of options that might be post-colonial, that is, structures and practices which try to neutralise the inequities of a colonial past Cultural safety represents a modest option within such a framework...The reaction highlights the substantial opposition to any move towards tino rangatiratanga, and raises central questions about what is guanranteed by way of citizenship rights in Aotearoa.

Dahrendorf (cited in Riley, 1992, p. 206) has recently argued that the citizenship of a modern state implies certain unambiguous rights, for example, the right to a minimum income or to education. But the combination of a new managerialism and the centrality of the market as the key distributor of goods and services has encouraged certain developments which challenge these notions of citizenship, and therefore challenge the integrity and legitimacy of the modern liberal state. In particular, he cites the growth of "new minorities" who no longer enjoy even the minimal rights of other citizens and who highlight the way in which national frameworks and an assumption of universalism actually disenfranchise these new minorities. He argues instead for a notion of pluralistic citizenship which does not require conformity and is not based on a common civic culture.

[On the Media -Trust me I'm a Professor]
Values will always intrude on the coverage of such an issue, but there is a balance that is required for media coverage to provide a certain level of basic information and which does not seek to portray the parties to this dispute in flattering or unflattering light as the case may be.

the freedom of the press inhibits the freedom of speech in important ways.


They have gone down a rabbit hole; they have taken their ideology into the institutions. Students have swallowed it and they are the new editors.

In the institutions it is normalised ["institutionalisation of public discourse"[?] Parekh quoted in article] but the public has never had it explained. The editors simply took sides rather than detect subtley - bang the Salvation Army drum?

annonymous said...

Great article Chris.

Thank you very much.

My spouse is Maori and through his Treaty Settlement and The South Island Landless Native Act he owns with members of his whamau, warious pockets of land (a particular piece is likely worth millons of dollars). He also worked hard, got an education and we own a property together in Auckland.

Best of both worlds.

Gary Peters said...

"then we already have it."

Precisely. However, how does that benefit the tribal elites and vocal whingers? It doesn't so anyone who believes that this "demand" for co-governance is for the benefit of maori is naive or stupid.

Max Ritchie said...

Elegantly put. We have co-governance already - we each have one vote and only one vote.

Odysseus said...

Co-governance is a project of the tribal elites, who have been enriched by the "full and final settlements" and preferential taxation for iwi corporations, and want more. Polling shows the main concern of working class people of Maori descent is the cost of living crisis, just as it is for other New Zealanders. Treaty issues hardly rate. As an ideology for unlocking the potential of individuals and society tribalism is not fit for purpose in the modern world. Without State support and continual pandering by Leftist politicians it would simply wither away.

David George said...

I guess there is no shortage of mad ideas swirling around in the minds of the ethno nationalists - including, no doubt, the Chinese revolution model. Easy to ignore the certainty of an escalation of intertribal rivalry and the destruction of the economy and pretty much everything else when the glittering prize, the lust for power, beckons. That's what this is really about.

Odysseus passed on a snippet from that 1997 talk by Roger Sandall - it's well worth a read in it's entirety. https://www.bassettbrashandhide.com/post/roger-sandall-an-australian-dilemma-reconciling-the-irreconcilable

Excerpt: "What is likely to happen, for example, when tribal attitudes and rules are imported holus-bolus into the machinery of modern administration? Into a world, that is, which rightly assumes that the office and the office-holder are two different things; that appointment should be by merit only; that public funds are not private resources; and that accounting procedures and documentation must accompany all officially authorised tasks?

Of course, we all know what is likely to happen -- chaos. Because, as any reader of Max Weber knows, there is the most radical and irreconcilable contrast between the modern organisation of such matters and the conduct and attitudes prevailing in the pre-modern world. There, in contrast, a man is obliged to favour his relatives (it is a sign of loyalty), is expected to opportunistically use whatever funds come his way for their benefit, is unable to psychologically separate office and incumbency, and, having learnt his accounting and economics in the school of Professor Marshall Sahlins, usually has a lofty disdain for such things.

A tribal take-over of a modern government agency is therefore likely to see a complete inversion of modern administrative values. Nepotism will no longer be seen as a vice. It will be seen as a virtue. The private use of public funds will not be seen as strictly forbidden. It will be obligatory. Under such a regime it is entirely fitting that one's relatives be appointed as "researchers" and "assistants" and "associates" and "facilitators". That is exactly what those relatives expect from any loyal member of the tribe, and they will be very disappointed if they are not appointed to such positions"

. "The democratic way means respect for and openness to all cultures, but it also challenges all cultures to abandon those intellectual and moral values that are inconsistent with the ideals of freedom, equality, and the ongoing cooperative experimental search for truth." 10

In brief, the only proper ultimate goal in a democracy is the survival of civilization itself.

It would be nice to think that sensible reconsideration along these lines would eventually be found on the Australian Left as well. But I am disinclined to hold my breath until it does. As it is, with the ideal of equality and integration replaced by preference and separation, and a once-large reservoir of public goodwill now souring into resentment and despair, Gellner's words on the damaging effects of aggressive ethnic nationalism within the modern industrial state seem more apposite. He is commenting on the fact that much romantic nationalist fervour is born from a reaction against the requirements of industrial modernity, and that this reaction tends to freeze or petrify all that is most backward in traditional life.

"Equality of status and a continuous, shared culture", he writes, "seems a precondition for the functioning of a complex, occupationally mobile, technically advanced society. Hence it does not easily tolerate cultural fissures within itself, especially if they correlate with inequality which thereby becomes frozen, aggravated, visible and offensive."

nicholastwig said...

You don't go far enough back, Chris, in your historical appraisal of governance in these islands at the end of the Earth. The not-so-far-back ancestors of the iwi leaders currently arguing how badly they are being done by, in negotiations under the Treaty of Waitangi, were much more direct and effective. When they had a difference of opinion with another tribe, and they really meant it, they were careful to kill every single one -well - warrior - women and slaves didn't count - because if they did not, that straggler was bound to muster up a force to raid and kill them - utu - however long it took. They knew how to negotiate in those days. None of this namby-pamby co-governance. Coming from warrior stock myself (Scots) I actually have more respect in some ways (wee-e-l-l-l that's stretching it) for these thoroughly unreasonable greedy iwi- leaders, than I do for your second paragraph. It really is time all New Zealanders knew their history - otherwise all this is just a farce.

Anonymous said...

Max Ritchie at 11:05: Elegantly put. We have co-governance already - we each have one vote and only one vote.

No problems at all with the equality within that statement.... the problem arises when one wants two bites at the cherry. Sadly 'Equality' is never appreciated nor practiced; the more pre-eminent the beneficiary the more advantaged the bite

Luke Doidge-Bailey said...

An interesting if thoroughly specious counterfactual scenario Chris.

If only those upitty maoris had the good sense to know when they'd been colonised and knuckled under to enjoy the privileges of being a historically marginalised underclass and ideological cannon fodder for our pleasant pakeha myth of being the "good" colonisers. Least we gave them the franchise, aye?

Besides, what's a couple of hundred years of systemic land confiscation, poverty and deliberately engineered inequity compared to protecting our fragile societal ego?

If there is an argument against some kind of constitutional innovation around co-governance to support real progress and realequity for Maori, then it lies not in Beijing but much closer to home: in our refusal to reckon with the deep and abiding racism that our entire conception of New Zealand and New Zealandness is built on.

Because at the end of the day, treaty issues are economic and social ones. You can't solve one without addressing the other.

David George said...

The lack of (a?) land to govern over is pretty fundamental when you think about - which we rarely do. Can you really have a racial or tribal basis for governance without a territory to be sovereign over? What would it look like to have separate self interested groups trying to govern the same place but with a multitude of people with various ethnicities. Who or what gets to decide? The Lebanese model? https://www.takimag.com/article/look-to-the-lebanon/

It's about time this idiotic co-governance fantasy was put in the rubbish bin where it belongs.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I see Titiwhai Harawera is dead. Cue the hate starting in 3... 2... 1...

Anonymous said...

Poor Maori health and the other social failures are all down to post colonial Holocaust syndrome, that works for me.

sumsuch said...

Didn't understand it from the beginning and now it's going, apparently. I thought it was about Maori having an input. Which I was and am for.

Reminds me of Clark's thing before the 'winter of discontent'from the Rogernome rulers -- business. Which disturbed her from her pot. And gave us the last 20 years, which can only be described as neo-rogernomics.

John Hurley said...

Discourse 1: Naturalising the dominant culture
Within routines of everyday life (Billig, 1995; Chamberlain and Hodgetts, 2008), Pākehā New
Zealanders live in and engage with situations structured by the dominant culture in familiar ways. Fleras and Spoonley (1999: 81) put it:
"majority groups conduct their public and private lives according to [what are taken to be]
universally held and superior systems and values. Others are guided by culture; they are not."
Because the dominant group's ways are naturalised - their origins and justifications within
the culture and interests of the group masked - that privilege becomes invisible. Such
'taken-for-granted' representations of the dominant culture, practices, and institutions require discursive resources and practices that enable people to experience the status quo as natural. Identifying changes or challenges to the status quo as 'news', simultaneously
affirms and re-presents it (Ericson et al., 1987; Kress and Van Leeuwen, 1998) while
concurrently legitimating the media focus on what is shown as deviant, marginal, or novel
(Fiske, 2000; Gabriel, 2000; Nairn et al, 2012). The historically mediated character (Gray
and Thomas, 2006) of this masking and naturalising is shown by its absence from New Zealand's early colonial newspapers, when social and political priorities demanded that the
'civilized Britishness' of settler values and practices be routinely foregrounded (Colvin, 2010)

Society is a large edifice. The liberationists have spent decades deconstructing it.
We have gone from Landmarks 1981 (most watched documentary ever) to any dirt we can dig up.
Society is now viewed as based on power; people have ascribed cultures; those cultures need recognition and state resources so the holders of those cultures can prosper.

The Treaty is a tool whereby Maori culture is liberated from constraining pakeha culture. It becomes the head and guiding culture. They say this over and over at the Terrorism hui as per DPMC.

Gary Peters said...

The former prime minister was given many opportunities to define what she and her government considered co-governance to be and she baulked at every one of them.

Christopher Luxon asked many times for her to define it so he could formulate a response. She declined. Maybe she didn't know as her handlers hadn't told her that bit.

Therefore he took the opportunity to define his type of "co-governance" and good on him as he is likely to be the next prime minister unless the caucus gets shifty and starts looking at hipkins' back.

His form of co-governance should pose no threat to anyone, after all, surely it is not unreasonable to allow people who have an historical or direct ownership link to an asset having a say at various levels about what happens to that asset. Has allowing local people, maori in this case, to have a control over their local health providers destroyed our nation? Have they driven the health system into destruction? Of course not and if by chance they do have some impact in improving the health of those local people then we have an additional bonus.

As a disclaimer, I am a non maori yet am a patient of such a local maori health trust. Who'd a thought a whitey could get medical treatment at such a racist enterprise !!!!!

Anonymous said...

That all sounds good Chris, but you ignore that there is a Treaty in place.

I could ask everyone to consider whether they wish they were born white or brown and I am fairly certain I know what the majority would vote for.