Tuesday 5 July 2022

Willie Jackson's Problem.

On The Horns Of A Dilemma: The essence of Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson’s problem is that he can neither withdraw, nor water-down, the Draft Plan for implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without exposing the Labour Government to the most withering political fire from Maori. His Pakeha colleagues face the same problem – in reverse. If the Labour Cabinet signs up to UNDRIP/He Puapua, then it can kiss the 2023 election good-bye.

WILLIE JACKSON HAS A PROBLEM – a big problem. Since 2017, he has led the charge to secure more resources for Māori and, by winning them, has assumed a pivotal political role in the quest for Tino Rangatiratanga. With Jackson’s successes, however, have come heightened expectations of more. Just how high Māori hopes have grown is manifested in the contents of the Draft Plan for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) So alarming are the recommendations contained in this document, that the Māori Development Minister is refusing to present it to Cabinet.

Jackson’s refusal is highly significant. If the plan has a promoter of Māori economic and social development as stalwart as Jackson shaking his head, then the Draft Plan must be effectively indistinguishable from the He Puapua Report.

Therein lies Jackson’s problem. The moment the He Puapua Report entered the public arena it was too late to order it shredded. It had become a ticking political time-bomb that could only be defused with the co-operation of all sides of the Māori sovereignty debate. It’s only saving grace was that it was not – yet – an official government document. This was a godsend for Jackson and the Labour Government. They had been given a few crucial months to do whatever was needed to prevent a potentially fatal political explosion.

It explains why Jackson and his colleagues asked Maoridom to develop its response to the UNDRIP/He Puapua challenge first, ahead of Pakeha, and behind closed doors. They were hoping that, perceiving the revolutionary character of He Puapua, the good and the great of Maoridom would bend all their powers to reshaping its recommendations into something Jackson’s Labour colleagues – and the rest of New Zealand – could live with.

Unfortunately for Jackson and Labour, that is not what happened. After 70 hui, held across the country, the mood of Maoridom was made strikingly clear. UNDRIP was a hard-and-fast commitment. The radical vision of He Puapua was not to be to be finessed away with fine phrases. Rangatahi, the rising generation of young Māori nationalists, would accept nothing less than a full-on, Te Tiriti-driven, co-governed and bi-cultural Aotearoa.

How radical is the Draft Plan? It is revolutionary. How else to describe its call for one justice system for Pakeha and another for Māori? The late Moana Jackson would be proud of the document, because, essentially, it reflects his vision of the future. The softly-spoken revolutionary’s body may lie with his ancestors, but his spirit is strong among that part of Maoridom for whom Tino Rangatiratanga and Mana Motuhake have become non-negotiable components of Aotearoa’s future.

That “responsible Maoridom” decided not to come through for him, or Labour, must have hit Willie Jackson hard. So hard that he was forced back onto that most traditional of Labour precepts: the fundamental decency and common sense of the New Zealand working-class. Jackson’s interim solution to the Draft Plan’s ideological inflexibility is to divide the intellectuals and ideologues responsible for He Puapua from ordinary, hard-working, Māori New Zealanders:

I know what the average Māori will think and they’re not walking around every day thinking about the United Nations’ Declaration of Indigenous Peoples – they’re thinking about their housing, their health, their education.

This would sound a lot more convincing if Jackson’s Pakeha colleagues had not been aggressively selling the notion that Māori housing, health and education will only improve when the rest of New Zealand starts living up to Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s implicit promise of “partnership”. Generally-speaking, working-class people have more on their minds than politics. But, they aren’t deaf. Tell them that their future and politics are intimately entwined often enough, and loudly enough, and, eventually, they’ll start paying attention. Quite unintentionally, Labour may have kicked-off a revolution of rising expectations.

Such is the essence of Jackson’s problem: he can neither withdraw, nor water-down, the Draft Plan without exposing the Labour Government to the most withering political fire from Māori. His Pakeha colleagues face the same problem – in reverse. If the Labour Cabinet signs up to UNDRIP/He Puapua, then the party can kiss the 2023 election good-bye.

Jackson understands this completely:

You can imagine some of the wants or asks from [Māori], but as I remind them, it’s not just about them. It’s about what do we want to do as a government and how do we want to honour that declaration and how do we realistically go forward getting people to recognise there are indigenous obligations without them thinking we’re going to take their houses off them.

Which is, of course, why the revolutionary He Puapua Report should have been shredded the moment it passed from the hands of the Māori nationalist dreamers who wrote it, into the possession of those who do politics for a living.

Still, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody no good. Labour’s crisis is Te Pāti Māori’s red, white and black opportunity. Any watering-down, let alone withdrawal, of the Draft Plan will be seized upon by Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer as proof positive of Pakeha Labour’s perfidy. After five years of promising Māori the moon, after repeated pledges to institute co-governance, the Labour Government will have proved that, when push comes to shove, it is no more willing than any other coloniser to surrender its white privilege.

And to Jackson’s colleagues in Labour’s Māori caucus, Waititi and Ngarewa-Packer will jeer: “Fool me once, shame on you: fool me hundreds of times, and I must be a Māori Labour Party MP!”

Except, being roundly castigated by Te Pāti Māori is probably the best response Labour could hope for. Virtuously upholding democracy by rejecting the separatist recommendations of the Draft Plan is about the only way this Government can remain electorally competitive. It would certainly allow Jackson to sharpen his class-based critique of Māori society. (Which as a strategy, would be even more effective if he could just to point to tangible gains for working-class Māori in housing, health and education!)

Not that National and Act can afford to just sit back with a bucket of popcorn and enjoy the fun. If the Right/Left poll numbers remain relatively even, then the parliamentary support of an enlarged Te Pāti Māori – pumped-up by the protest votes of all those Māori outraged by a Labour betrayal even bigger than the Seabed and Foreshore, may prove critical to National and Act being able to form a government.

What price will Te Pāti Māori extract from National for its support on Confidence and Supply?

When John Key put that question to Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia in 2008, the answer turned out to include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 5 July 2022.


Odysseus said...

Labour's Rubicon is fast approaching. If they impose their 3 Waters co-governance template, where for example 68,000 Ngai Tahu members have an effective veto over the aspirations of 750,000 other New Zealanders, they are history. The next river they will see electorally will be the Styx; hopefully, for their sakes, they will have enough funds left in the kitty to pay the ferryman.

He Pua Pua may not be an "official document" but it is certainly guiding this government's actions including abolishing referenda on Maori wards, supporting the blatantly racist Rotorua Representation Arrangements bill, and now the confiscation of community owned assets for the benefit of iwi corporates. New Zealanders are waking up to the fact that they have been hoodwinked.

Barry said...

If there one thing that those who worry about the US Supreme courts action over Roe v Wade its that the court read the constitution as it was written.
The possible influence of that in NZ is not what might happen to abortions in NZ, but what might happen if the Treaty is enacted as written.
Imagine the shattered dreams of some brainwashed Maori if "we are one people" was enacted.
The reaction to He PuaPua and cogovernance may lead to a re-reading of the treaty.
It may take time but I would not rule it out.
Nothing good ever came from race based decisions.

Tim Hawkins said...

Chris. I am wondering where in the Treat of Waitangi does the concept of 'partnership' occur. That is the misunderstanding that seems to pervade the difficulties of finding a way through this minefield. Reading Dame Anne Salmond's article in Newsroom it seems that Sir Robin Cooke muddied the waters in 1987 as President of the Court of appeal by declaring that the Treaty was a 'partnership between races' which until then was not a part of the translation through the ages. I would love some clarification on this point by others who understand a lot more than I. Thank you.


Willie shows his true colours with statements such as ... "After all Maori are still very much an afterthought in New Zealand mainstream media ";
This statement is patently at odds with existing reality.

We have had for years now, many local Maori radio stations. These have been joined by a vibrant hugely popular Maori TV channel that has become ...well "mainstream".

There is now a diversity of news presenters on all three local news TV channels. RNZ's almost obsessive use of Maori taglines signals genuine intent and respect while giving effect to our Te Reo rights as Treaty partners.

To paraphrase Mark Twain ... "Too much of anything is good for nothing". Mr Jackson has, with his jaundiced and asymmetric views, risked alienating the largest numbers of supportive Kiwis. He gives scant recognition to the progress we and our Media have all already made.

With Willie's more considered and balanced assistance in future and with the Maori Nation's goodwill, we will continue to build on these existing solid foundations.

Trev1 said...

Tim Hawkins: Sir Robin Cooke never said the Treaty was a partnership. He said the Crown had a duty to act in good faith towards Maori (and Maori vice versa) "akin to a partnership". He used the idea of partnership as a metaphor; he did not declare it to be a fact. Radical separatists have distorted and deliberately misrepresented his remarks which has led to our present predicament.

Anonymous said...

Right now the best way forward is for Dame Anne Salmond’s six part analysis of the words in the Treaty to be given serious prominence by leading opinion makers. The current ignorance is feeding the disastrous rising expectations.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"If there one thing that those who worry about the US Supreme courts action over Roe v Wade its that the court read the constitution as it was written."

Yet this is being debated in the US by legal, constitutional, and historical scholars ... which are you? Judging by that sentence none of the above.

David George said...

We haven't seen this report but a reasonable guess as to it's content I suspect Chris; unless you know something we don't. You do have to wonder why these discussions aren't taking place in an open and, dare I say it, transparent way. The "national conversation" just more window dressing, more bullshit aided by a compromised and complicit media actively supressing genuine discussion.

There's a totalising "we know best" attitude; no understanding of, or regard for, or interest in, the legitimate concerns of many.

Paul Kingsnorth: "This is where we are. The post-modern Left, which has seized the heights of so much of Western culture, is not some radical threat to the establishment: it is the establishment. Progressive leftism is market liberalism by other means. The Left and corporate capitalism now function like a pincer: one attacks the culture, deconstructing everything from history to “heteronormativity” to national identities; the other moves in to monetise the resulting fragments.

Where, then, to stand? Could there be a Left without progress? Could there be a Right without capitalism? Perhaps, but we first need to come to terms with the radicalism of the times we are living through. This is a time in which the pertinent questions are not “who should own the means of production?” or “should we privatise the health service?” They are “what is a woman?”, “where should we implant the microchips?”, “how quickly can we get this digital ID system up and running?”, and “what do you think of my new killer robot?” The creation of designer babies, the abolition of the sexed body, the growing of brains in labs: whatever you want, the Machine can provide it, technology can fashion it, and progressive ideology can redefine it as justice.

When people ask me where I stand, I say these days that it’s with an older tradition: the same one I was writing about in that first book, although I didn’t know it then. It’s a tradition I saw represented in what the Zapatistas did back in the 1990s and I have heard its echo in historical uprisings in my own country, from the Luddites to the fen tigers. It’s a tradition which takes its stand not according to ideological positioning, but according to actual positioning: on Earth, under the sky, surrounded by people who know where the sun rises in the morning, where they come from and who they are."


Brendan McNeill said...

For those interested in the historical context of the treaty, the hui’s that took place amongst Maori tribal elders and chiefs, the wording as it was understood at the time, and since, I highly recommend Ewen McQueen’s book “One Sun in the Sky”.


You can see reviews by Dr Elizabeth Rata, Professor, School of Critical Studies in Education, University of Auckland, Dr Paul Moon ONZM, Professor in History, AUT and others here: https://www.onesuninthesky.com/reviews

There is of course no mention of partnership and nothing even hinting at co-governance in the wording of the treaty. The idea that the Queen of England and ruler of the British Empire would enter into partnership with a primitive tribal people she had never met living halfway around the world is absurd. The treaty is something Maori wanted in order to give them the security of the rule of law, and full rights and responsibilities of British citizenship. Yes, they traded sovereignty to the Queen in exchange, but they fully understood this at the time, while some notably dissented and refused to sign.

The acknowledgement of the Crown’s Soverignty is explicit in the first article, implied in the second article where Maori were obliged to give the Crown first option over any land they wished to sell, only a subject people would be required to do that, and explicit in the third article, as the rights and responsibilities of British Citizenship included acknowledging the Crown’s Sovereignty.

While we accept there were abuses by the Crown, the treaty of Waitangi has sought to provide some compensation. Successive Governments have been foolish in raising Maori expectations around partnership, none more so than the present Labour Government. It’s difficult to see how we can avoid this ending in tears for all concerned unless some attempt is made to dial back expectations more in line with original treaty terms, and the Tribunal compensation agreements.


Hey Trev 1

You said "quote" ... "He" (SC Judge Cooke)used the idea (notion) of partnership as a metaphor; he did not declare it to be a fact"

Looks like the old substance (us) over form (lawyers) points of view is the issue most on point. A substance-a la generic use of the term "Partnership" I impute as the intended meaning to be "substantive" common meaning ... and intent.

Of course! ... there was no "Partnership Deed" as such ... with all that entailed legalese attached.

It was/is A Treaty ... in the nature of a partnership (generic/common usage of the term)... between the Nations

John Hurley said...

Rangatahi, the rising generation of young Māori nationalists, would accept nothing less than a full-on, Te Tiriti-driven, co-governed and bi-cultural Aotearoa.
and Tova O'Brien.
Woke is the sacrilisation of traditionally oppressed (unequal) minorities so stupidity is a small small cross to bear for such a magnificent cause.

John Hurley said...


It was/is A Treaty ... in the nature of a partnership (generic/common usage of the term)... between the Nations

Treaties don't have to be permanent and it never was made in good faith. Today it is just an anvil on which break us in two parts for the nefarious purposes of an (unspecified) 3rd way.


My response to John Hurley...

Yes ... if we let it (The Treaty) ... can be "an anvil"

I prefer for it to be "A "Treaty" (an exchange of promises) and! ... an obligation (s) now enshrined in "The Law".

Where there used to be (in law) "a nullity" ... its different now ... OK?