Saturday 15 May 2021

Will Labour Defuse The "He Puapua" Time-Bomb?

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s current political strategy of artful prevarication has a strictly limited lifespan. The time-bomb that is He Puapua continues to emit a relentless tick-tock, tick-tock. Sooner or later – and preferably before that ominously silent crowd massing outside the parliamentary arena lends its voice to National and Act – the Prime Minister is going to have to defuse it.

THE NUMBER of people outside keeps growing. Where there had once been a harmless handful, there is now a good-sized crowd. And they keep coming. More and more of them. You can hear car doors slamming, footsteps, the soft murmur of exchanged greetings. These people can’t quite believe what they’ve been told, so they’ve come to see for themselves if the story is true.

It was unavoidable: this growing chorus of disquiet. The moment Nanaia Mahuta set the wheels in motion; the moment the relevant Cabinet Committee signed it off. From that moment the logic of te Tiriti began to unfold like a coiled fern. That’s the thing about documents like He Puapua: once written, they can’t be unwritten. Once they are in the world, you only have two choices. Either you embrace their conclusions and make them your own. Or, you cast them away from you like sin.

And, please, don’t blame Labour’s He Puapua problem on John Key. The advice he received on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was that it was a statement of good intentions – not firm intentions. New Zealand could take it – or leave it in a drawer. That made it a ploy – not a promise. A sop to that irritating old Cerberus, Pita Sharples. The equivalent of beads and blankets to keep the Maori Party sweet. For God’s sake! The man is a former currency trader. If the price is right, he will cut you a deal, make it happen, move on.

No, it wasn’t Key’s fault, or National’s. It’s always been an article of the Tory faith: you do what you have to do to win. Political transactions are about today, not tomorrow.

That’s always been the problem with the parliamentary left: it’s never been entirely sure what game its playing, or what the rules are. Spoiler alert: They have nothing to do with truth or justice. The game is called political survival; it’s about making it to – and hopefully through – the next election. So, the one thing you must never do is offer up hostages to Fortune. Why? because Fortune always ends up killing them. He Puapua is living on borrowed time.

What the hell was Labour thinking? That it could commission a report, pre-programmed to deliver a set of radical Maori nationalist conclusions, and no one would notice? Is the caucus really so far gone in its wokeness that it genuinely believed the New Zealand people were ready to embrace the revolutionary changes mandated by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People? Christ on a bike! The same Labour MPs who refused to pass a Capital Gains Tax, are now, apparently, happy to be crucified for a te Tiriti approved tricameral parliament!

And naturally, their good friends in the Greens and Te Paati Maori are only too happy to drive the nails through their wrists. It was laughable really, watching Rawiri Waititi and Marama Davidson deploying in the New Zealand House of Representatives the same tactics that brought them success among gaggles of frightened Pakeha leftists.

Where a charge of racism can ruin a person’s career, the mere threat of its use is generally enough to secure ideological conformity. What a shock it must have been for Waititi and Davidson to discover that, on the floor of the House, that particular pistol is prone to misfire. It won’t stop them from pulling the trigger again and again, however. You just wait and see, it won’t be long before they’re accusing National and Act MPs of indulging in “hate speech” and demanding that Parliament’s Standing Orders be changed to shut them up.

Over the top? No. Silencing the Opposition’s investigative effort into the meaning of He Puapua, and its querying of the ultimate trajectory of the Labour Government’s “Maori separatist agenda”, was what Waititi appeared to expect of Speaker Trevor Mallard. And from his perspective, it’s easy to see why. Parliament has power – real power. What happens there matters. What’s more, Members of Parliament have privileges – real privileges. The most important of these being the privilege to speak freely without the threat of being bludgeoned into silence by defamation writs – or woke fatwas.

The crazy thing is, neither the Greens, nor Te Paati Maori, appear to have the slightest idea of what would happen if they got their wish: if, for some unknown reason, the Speaker did decide to muzzle the Opposition. They seem to have forgotten that the National and Act parties, between them, secured the votes of nearly one million New Zealanders. Do they honestly believe those million Kiwis will just shrug their shoulders and say: “Oh, well, that’s too bad. The Government has just thrust a dagger into the heart of parliamentary democracy, and our parties, but we’re not going to do anything about it.” 


Labour knows what would happen. Almost overnight, the 400,000 former National Party voters who swung in behind “Jacinda” in 2020 would swing back. Deep down Labour knows that He Puapua should never have been written; that it has the potential to kill their chances of re-election in 2023. That’s why Jacinda is slip-slip-sliding all over the place. She knows she risks a God Almighty row with her Maori caucus if she disowns He Puapua, and an even bigger one with Pakeha New Zealand if she doesn’t.

Unfortunately, Jacinda’s current strategy of artful prevarication has a strictly limited lifespan. The time-bomb that is He Puapua continues to emit a relentless tick-tock, tick-tock. Sooner or later – and preferably before that ominously silent crowd massing outside the parliamentary arena lends its voice to National and Act – the Prime Minister is going to have to defuse it.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 14 May 2021.


Phil said...

It is impossible not to notice that the Government has made some progess on implementing He Puapua despite claims they haven't read it or talked about. As you said in your other essay, Chris, if they dangle this in front of Iwi then cancel it, they should expect significant protests.

Kat said...

I would say your "defusing" in the context of He Puapua is more akin to lancing the boil. It will be National and Act ducking for cover as the pus squirts not Jacinda Ardern.

The Barron said...

The Minister in a Labour government initiates a report. The report comes back suggesting that Government Departments suffer from institutional racism and puts forward partnership models which will increase the Maori voice, view and participation. Released in 1986, the John Rangihau led report, Pūao-te-ata-tū, got similar political panic that is being seen for He Puapua. Unfortunately, there remains institutional racism and the Rangihau report remains relative, however, few people today would be surprised or feel threatened by the Pūao-te-ata-tū recommendations.

He Puapua is yet to have a Ministerial response. I would imagine that some recommendations can be looked at by the Government as implemental now (if legislated, after select committee). Some will be subject to further political debate and consultation, and like Pūao-te-ata-tū there will be people in 35 years from now still discussing recommendations left on the table.

Discussion documents are about evolution not revolution.

Still, as Sam Cook (not of Thorndon) sung -

It's been a long
A long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it will

I am sure John Rangihau would see some progress, but change may still be a long time coming.

Geoff Fischer said...

How do you suggest that she defuses "He Puapua", Chris?
You crusade for this or that, or more commonly against this or that, but at the end of the day you have nothing to offer but the continuation of the status quo.
That will not do, because the status quo is untenable.
Almost everyone can see that the "partnership" state will be electoral poison, but anyone with half a brain can see it follows from the the political premises which form the basis of the current regime's claim to legitimacy through the Treaty of Waitangi. You either go with the Maori version (popular sovereignty) or the English version (a hereditary British sovereign) or you try to construct a two humped camel of a constitution under the guise of shared sovereignty.
So where do you stand? Any one of the three options above, or do you have something more constructive to offer?
In terms of actual politics, I cannot see anything to distinguish you from the stream of commenters on your blog who crudely denigrate Maori or, at the very least, demand the continuance of British colonial rule under an absentee British monarch who they hold to be more wise and beneficent than any New Zealander.
For you, this sentence sums up the full extent of your political vision and principles. "The game is called political survival; it’s about making it to – and hopefully through – the next election."
You need to do better than that if you are going to be politically relevant, and that also goes for the rest of the left

oneblokesview said...

Well said.
It would seem that the current Labour caucus has lost its political nous.

John Hurley said...

This would never have happened once but now the journalists are activists behind the cause. This is a generation of duds (apart from one or two).
We are deprived of a local paper.
Which reminds me my friend who is elderly and had asthma voted for Ardern and we were discussing he puapua today. he said "did you see the letters in The Star?" and "hopefully she will be voted out next election.

Anonymous said...

there will be blood

Wayne Mapp said...

She could defuse "He Puapua" by focusing on service delivery rather than constitutional reform. The Maori Health Authority is happening. Whanau Ora already exists. The same systems could be applied to education, housing and to some parts of justice, notably corrections.

In short the PM needs to go further in ruling out the proposed constitutional reforms. She has no mandate for them. They run too close to disrupting cherished ideals about equality of democratic rights. In fact they would fundamentally disrupt them. The proposals are very different to Maori seats in Parliament and Local Councils, which are still based on equality of votes.

Nick J said...

Barron, your time frame references sum it up, when a good idea stands the test of time it gets adopted. As the cheese advert says goog things take time.

Anonymous said...

Well done Chris for pointing out what is obvious to most people: Segregation and Apartheid are poison no matter where they are implemented, regardless of the good intentions, because we know what good intentions pave.
However as someone who has spent his life preaching the religion of social division on the basis of 'class', I wonder if this sudden conversion of yours is more because this new woke version of socialism specifically targets people like you: Old White Males.
Either way, welcome to the club! ;-)


David George said...

There's little indication that Ardern & Co have any idea of the implications of what they're playing with, much less any willingness to honestly confront it.
Their spineless deference to all things Maori is obvious - the illegal blocking of our highways for example. Who honestly believed there was a genuine risk of a rabid rona carrier bursting into granny's home and infecting the old dear? Would it have been tolerated from anyone but Maori?
Or have a look at Mallard's shit eating grin when he "disciplined" the Maori Party buffoons last week.

The education ministry have now begun critical race theory indoctrination into our children's classrooms. Kids are being forced to stand up and recite their apologies for having European ancestry. What the hell sort of thing is that to be laying at the feet of children, what sort of twisted ideology, what sort of government, would countenance such a thing?

Jacinda has walked into a trap of her own making, expect to see increasingly outrageous demands and the inevitable capitulation.

The question now is how do we resist, engage, inform and unite the overwhelming majority, reasonable Kiwis of all races, to fight and defeat this BS. Ideas welcome.

Odysseus said...

Yes, what were they thinking? Perhaps Ardern thought the He Puapua agenda could be implemented step by step over the next three years and, with the connivance of a compliant media, nobody or only an irrelevant few would notice? She would have been confident perhaps that any opposition could be easily shut down by charges of "racism". As Janet Daley writes in today's Telegraph on the new Dark Age that is rapidly arriving, "What is significant is not the modern views that are being propounded but the way they are being enforced. The question is not whether you approve of these opinions but whether you accept that they must not be questioned, subjected to examination, or disputed."

One of the most disturbing innovations from He Puapua so far is the repugnantly racist history curriculum that is proposed for schools from next year. It has the smell of Mein Kampf about it, such are its distortions and its efforts to denigrate and humiliate non-Maori. There is something very rotten in the Ministry of Education.

Odysseus said...

David George: how do we resist, etc? It's important people who share these concerns are made aware they are not alone. With the media bought and paid for by the government it's easy to feel isolated and that you are swimming against the tide. So we must keep expressing our concerns in those (increasingly few) forums where debate remains welcome, and on social media. It's also important to support financially groups like the Free Speech Union. The time is coming soon when we will have to defend our right of free expression against the government's draconian "hate speech" law whose intention is to silence any debate through the contrived crime of "offense".

Barry said...

A letter in Saturdays Waikaato Times says:
"I defy iwi leaders, Waitangi Tribunal and anyone else to name a single element of pre-european Maori culture or tribal practices that is of general use or enhances the lives of present day New Zealanders."
I think this is the general view of the vast majority of Kiwis.
After reading of the deputy Govenor of the Reserve Bank telling the Institue of Directors that Tane Mahuta is overseaing the operation of the Bank one wonders if someone has put something awful in the water in Wellington. I think this sort of belief answers the letter writers question. The answer is nothing.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

David George, Can you please expand on, "Kids are being forced to stand up and recite their apologies for having European ancestry"?

Barry said...

Local schools report that the MOE advise the schools to delay giving the lunches from the 'Lunches in Schhols' until the children are hungry so that they will eat the lunches - and the students are to be dis couraged from eating lunches from home.
This follows news here in Hamilton that many of the state meals are being left by kids.
Sounds like something from the National Socialists in Germany in the 1930's - and we know how that ended.

Anonymous said...

Odysseus: "There is something very rotten in the Ministry of Education". Yes there is.


Fiona Mackenzie said...

Tribal control is happening here & now in almost every area of our "public services". He Puapua just documents the established process plus the more formal sovereignty objectives. NZers must start demanding accountability & the undoing of many costly & damaging activity. I suggest education & the RMA first up.

greywarbler said...

I hope that PM Ardern listens to your wisdom Mr Mapp. It sets out the situation clearly and hopefully will chill the rush of blood to the head of Labour leaders, with the word 'rush' possibly replaced by 'rash'. Once more Labour goes boldly where angels fear to tread otherwise, and another familiar cliche' applies of 'throwing out the baby with the bathwater'. The baby will not like that at all - the wail will be heard far and wide. That is my gerfuffle for today fashioned for my detractors, who sadly don't appreciate me.

greywarbler said...

I met John Rangihau I think. I thought he was teaching te reo in Nelson and had an untimely death that was much lamented.

Politics is the art of the possible, not that of improbable. To turn us all on our heads and shake us is not going to work for harmonious progress, rather the reverse. Just make a checklist Labour, of what can be achieved in discussion with pragmatic Maori. What will do the most good then start on that and put to the side the elegant or radical theories of various personalities who have built up a head of steam over what Maori deserve and should receive.

Keep cool as Tuhoe did after that invasion of their domain which happened while they were negotiating with the Crown for new rights and responsibilities. They came through as winners, by concentrating on the mahi. Let Labour do the same, concentrate on the mahi listen to the academics, and work out a plan to tackle the doable and most needed first. Perhaps call in the strategists from Tuhoe on the quiet. Tame Iti and tribe seem to be kapai at managing through complex matters.

Kat said...

Looks like the latest Newshub Reid Research poll has defused the situation somewhat, Collins gone not if, but when.....then we can all move on, maybe, or evolve as the Barron wisely comments.

Whats was that about pizza restaurants.....

The Barron said...

April 30: Chris asked -
Can Judith Collins Make Don Brash’s ‘Nationhood Soufflé’ Rise Twice? The Newshub / Reid Research poll today may give the answer.

Judith Collins preferred PM ratings dropped from an embarrassing 12.8 to a fatal 5.6, strangely retired National leader John Key headed her on 6.7. The saying that 'nostalgia ain't what it used to be' hasn't registered with the National voters.

Soufflé? Her chances are wafer thin. She played the race card, but Jacinda has a full house.

Tom Hunter said...

The latest Newshub Reid Research poll:

Labour 52.7% (+6.9% from Oct 2020 poll)
National 27% (-4.1%)
Greens 7.1% (+0.8%)
ACT 6.9% (-0.5%)
Maori 1.2% (+0.6%)

Conducted in the last few days apparently so it should be including people's reactions to the He Puapua report.

Mind you I have little idea how the NZ MSM is covering all this: from what I gather from people who do watch OneNews and the like the coverage of everything that Labour does is that it's great and everything about National is just awful, so if that's the overwhelming message that people are getting then the above poll should not be a surprise.

And that means Jacinda can take some risks, although there's no evidence that she'll take this kind, as her stance on Capital Gains Tax showed.

Still, there may be other forces inside Labour, including both the Maori caucus and thr Maori Party, plus the Greens, who will push her in this direction, with the assurance that they'll be happy to form a coalition government in the event of her losing those National voters of 2020.

A kiwi guy said...

Rather than good ideas resurfacing I prefer to see it as evil in the form of our barbaric past still encoded in all our DNA keeping at us, trying to drag us back into the pit. Perhaps one day finally it will give up. We will be able to move forward with democracy and capitalism unfettered, would be nice, but I suspect not, mankind is inherently flawed and every generation has to fight evil back in their own way or perish.

Anonymous said...

the beginning of the end of New Zealand as a nation.

John Hurley said...

That Newshub Poll
But unlike former National leader Don Brash's Orewa speech which skyrocketed the flailing party in the polls, it seems 17 years on the rhetoric has flopped.

I tend to believe that human nature will predominate whether it is compulsory te reo, "difficult histories" or two "peoples" tugging over our name: Corrin Dann's "Aotearoa/NZ".

Yes it may become a useful marker of group membership but we are also members of a wider nation with a sub identity in that.

Political correctness is the antithesis of free speech and a democratic society,. yet its tentacles reach into the very heart of New Zealand society through government departments, quangos and places of learning (The Press, 24 July 1993).

But in attacking the motives and methods of those involved with cultural safety, and in marginalising the reasons for the inclusion of cultural safety, notably the very poor service Maori have received from health services in general, it was inevitable that cultural safety would be cast as the villain in the media dramatisation. This raises important questions about the role of the media in defending traditional and, in this case, Pakeha values against any sort of change which might provide Maori with different and more appropriate services. We would also argue that the freedom of the press inhibits the freedom of speech in important ways.

When the press twists facts, tells lies, declares a cold war on a section of the community, uses editorials as party political broadcasts and subjects its readers to a daily breakfast of raw prejudices, it undermines the basic pre-condition of democracy... The freedom of the press then becomes the enemy of the freedom of speech (Parekh„ 1988" p. 121).

Spoonley 1993

So now we have an issue of coverage- Tova says there was wide coverage - much of it was cold water.

If there was wide coverage I suspect people don't think the Govt would do anything drastic because they don't know about the Critical Theory Rabbit Hole. After all

Spoonley and Fleras now take it upon themselves to 'mark' Pakeha culture and thereby dismantle the myth that Pakeha do not have a (specific) culture, that theirs is just the normal and natural way of doing things. By 'marking' Pakeha culture, so the (implicit) argument runs, Maori culture loses the taint of deviance from an imagined norm, for if there is no norm, Maori culture cannot deviate from it and appear somehow different and unnatural. Both cultures are thereby given equal status - which is what the project of turning the settler colony New Zealand into a postcolonial, bicultural Aotearoa/ New Zealand is ultimately all about.

It isn't the first time journalists have suppressed news

It wasn’t just the awfulness of life in the Labour Party in the late-1980s and early-90s that depressed Sonja Davies. As a shrewd observer of both local and international politics, she rapidly became aware that New Zealand was passing through a period of fundamental cultural and economic re-orientation. What concerned her most was how little New Zealanders were being told and, therefore, how little they knew, about the changes that were radically reshaping what it means to be a New Zealander.

“If people had any idea about the scale of these changes,” she confided to me early in her first term as MP for Pencarrow,” they’d be horrified. It’s been decided that New Zealand’s future lies in Asia. That’s got massive implications – but most people haven’t a clue. No one asked them and certainly no one’s telling them.”

JohnD said...

The past couple of days when I visit this blog I get a warning page that the blog is unsafe.

Loz said...

All of our democratic systems originated from a principle that are people are born with inalienable rights and inherrent equality. He Puapua champions the opposite view that through lineage and ancestral land holding that some people are born into a different class than others.

The report articulates a desire to enshrine constitutional power with a new feudal class freed from the irritation of a representative legislature. I can understand the appeal for anyone believing they have a born right to special power and privilege. For the rest of us its a recipe to permanently abolish the free consent of the governed as the legitimate basis of law and government. Wars have been fought over less!

Pete said...

What's going on with your blog, Chris? Have you been hacked?

I kept getting a "phishing" warning.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Pete and JohnD.

That's disturbing news. The blog is run and protected by Google Blogger - I simply follow its rules.

I can only hope that, since your message got through - hopefully with no adverse consequences to yourselves - all is well.

That some people may be trying to put people off coming here does not, however, surprise me. It saddens me - but it doesn't surprise me.

Trev1 said...

@ Chris Trotter

Karl du Fresne's blogpost site was also subject to a hacking/phishing warning from Google yesterday but it seems to have stopped. Your seems to be okay now too.


David George said...

Hi Lindsay, Anonymous has linked to the article in question - 16 May 2021 at 14:11

A recent letter says it better than I can:
I fear for the next generation. Unless parents can take back some kind of control, out of the hands of the woke left I believe we will slowly but surely slip into a quasi totalitarian government and culture........The following quote is from a book, it could easily be taken from a Kendi or Andrews book….

‘Finally, it is the business of the Peoples State to arrange for the writing of a world history in which the race problem will occupy a dominant position.’

But it isn’t, it’s from Mein Kampf. These are chilling times, I can easily see the coming generations not knowing what ‘freedom’ really is.

David George said...

From someone that has seen where this can, and usually does, lead. Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

"The beautiful story of America, the reason so many people around the world still yearn to come here, is to a large extent founded on our rejection of tribalism and our establishment of civic, neutral institutions, based on the fundamental principle of equality before the law. These institutions are imperfect, of course, but they are far superior to the tribalism that rules other parts of the world. Our overcoming of such a natural urge is an accomplishment.

As “woke” politics strengthens its grasp on our institutions — extending beyond the educational system into the media and now many corporations — that accomplishment is being eroded. The presumption of innocence, the commitment to blind justice and the whole notion of due process are all falling victim to spurious notions of “equity” and “anti-racism” — both of which carry within them an implicit intention to discriminate on racial lines.

If we continue to slip down this path, the thirst for tribalism will be unquenchable. That’s why moderate liberals need to stand up to the destructive forces that are taking over the Democratic party, just as moderate conservatives need to resist the tribal impulse that often grows in reaction to the other side’s excesses.

In Somalia, we failed to do this. In America it is imperative that we succeed."

The Barron said...

'democracy and capitalism unfettered'?

There is no contemporary or historical example where democracy has not fettered capitalism to some extent.

In democracy, left and right is about the degree to fetter.

Tom Hunter said...

Don't worry about it Chris, even Lefty, lefty American blogger and retired law prof, Ann Althouse has been getting this shit.

Several readers have emailed me to say they're getting a warning when they try to come to my blog. I haven't done anything different, so I'm assuming it's some transitory glitch that will be gone soon.

John Hurley said...

If the intelligentsia were serious about Maori interests why did they push for an immigration policy that would undermine the demographics of NZ. Maori views on immigration are "trending down (steeply)" according to Paul Spoonley. There are no honest players here

Jens Meder said...

Yes, our "sexual security" welfare state of 80 to 40 years ago failed to achieve a more egalitarian society by subsidizing more consumption by the poor and neglecting to guide and help them to become more independent creators and owners of wealth and become "Haves".

And the subsequent "free market Neo-liberalism" did not rectify that deficiency - by primarily easing wealth ownership creation by the already Haves, and actually achieving widening poverty through persuasive salesmanship to consume more even on credit, resulting in widening debt for consumption, not wealth ownership creation, like when paying off a mortgage.

If we had a stronger systematic effort to achieve a personal wealth ownership prospect by all than what we have so far -

I think that the more egalitarian concept of "people's capitalism" will replace any sectional interest feudalistic "wealth by right" dreams.

John Hurley said...

before the reforms of the 1980s Maori income was 92% of Pakeha. After that it was 83%.
Treaty Settlements saw Maori Corporations wealthy but not much in household wealth.
Helen tried to close the gaps but that was stopped as people said that there should be no distinction poor white/poor Maori.
Meanwhile Helen ramped up immigration which (according to the Savings Working Group 2011) had the opposite effect to that which was intended and house prices have done a Nazi salute ever since (as I saw on twitter)

Paul Spoonley claims we have developed a type of "liberal nationalism" but there is nothing liberal about Suzy Ferguson on Morning Report or "Aotearoa/NZ" or anything imposed by those with power. He also claims that the two nations one state specific Maori rights were achieved "by the ballot box". That claim is just not true. Look what happens when populist outsiders like Trump challenge oligarch insiders. More accurately they got away with it because people think "oh well that may be the end of it". It (also) is illiberal (or something) when poor little things on telly (in expensive outfits) cry about their oppression. As I heard Keith Sinclair say (back in the day) "who is Maori anyway?". Imagine saying that now?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I wouldn't worry too much about the dangerous page stuff. I regularly get it when I visit academic journal websites. I suspect it's more something to do with the browser you're using than the actual danger of the website. Still, if it's common I'll ask the son. About time the lazy bastard was some use. :)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Okay, in amongst all the IT babble that I didn't understand apparently the dangerous page thing can be any one of a number of things, only one of which is someone acting in a malign way. He said not to worry too much unless it carries on in which case maybe get in touch with the blog host.