Wednesday 21 September 2022

Two Kings, One Country.

A Meeting Of Minds On The Treaty: The ultimate irony of a radical Māori nationalist push for a republic would be an answering surge towards monarchical institutions. A Māori-Pakeha alliance forged between members of the Professional-Managerial Class in pursuit of a radically identarian republic may yet find itself opposed by a Māori-Pakeha alliance embracing all social classes and dedicated to installing not one, but two, monarchs over New Zealand.

IT MUST BE TWENTY YEARS since a bunch of well-meaning Pakeha attempted to hold a serious constitutional conference. Republicanism, a topic making a comeback following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, was on this long-ago gathering’s agenda, but so, too, was the Treaty of Waitangi.

That was the problem.

Once the Māori nationalists had laid down the wero of incorporating the Māori version of the Treaty into a reformed New Zealand constitution, the conference was over. As arranged, the good and the great delivered their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of New Zealand’s ramshackle constitution, but nobody was really listening. Everybody understood that te Tiriti o Waitangi, if accepted as the true constitutional blueprint of New Zealand, would act like the most powerful acid on the institutions and principles of the colonial state.

Those attending the conference also understood that the Māori nationalist position was effectively non-negotiable. All future deviations from the constitutional status-quo would be in the direction indicated by the Māori nationalists and their Pakeha enablers in the judiciary, academia, the public service, the major political parties, and – now – the mainstream media.

In their heart-of-hearts, the Pakeha conference organisers understood that, henceforth, constitutional reform in New Zealand could only be a matter of the slow and incremental advance of te Tiriti to the heart of the New Zealand state. This transformation would be accomplished without the widespread popular debate, or validating public referenda, generally considered essential to the making of new constitutions. Indeed, it was clear that any te Tiriti-based transformation could only be accomplished by stealth, and only forestalled by force.

For all but the most naïve republicans, therefore, the Queen’s death was an event to be feared: inevitable, but fraught with danger.

The Māori Party’s recent ideological shift from monarchism to republicanism signalled the growing confidence of the Māori nationalist cause. Among the radicals, the Crown has lost its magic. The cosy relationship between the House of Windsor and the Kingitanga – which the Prime Minister was at pains to shore up by taking King Tuheitia with her to the Queen’s funeral – is as unlikely to withstand the drive towards a radical decolonisation of New Zealand as the “Settler State” itself.

With their Green Party enablers adding their voices to the Māori Party’s call for the indigenisation of the New Zealand constitution – a process which would begin with the repudiation of the name “New Zealand” in favour of “Aotearoa” – and Labour’s Māori Caucus determined not to be outflanked on the left by their Māori Party challengers, the Labour Party will find it increasingly difficult to maintain the position that the republican “conversation” can be put off to a later date.

That said, the radical agenda of the Māori nationalists will not be without its opponents. Quite how the Kingitanga is supposed to retain any vestige of ideological credibility in an Aotearoa shaped by the requirements of comprehensive decolonisation is a question bound to create serious division. Without the presence of the British Crown, the Māori Crown may strike the radicals as an embarrassing exercise in colonial emulation. The Māori King and his subjects are unlikely to take kindly to such an insulting characterisation.

The Iwi Leaders Group may, similarly, respond with growing alarm to the radicalism inherent in the Māori and Green parties’ decolonisation and indigenisation agenda. The curious blending of aristocracy and capitalism that has grown up under the auspices of the Crown makes precious few concessions to the poverty-stricken Māori masses living in the major cities.

Indeed, the blending of traditional Māori leadership with corporate capitalism, was the Crown’s inspired solution to the dangerous political potential of the uprooted urban Māori population. (Those with a working knowledge of Scottish history will recognise the origins of the model in the transformation of traditional clan chiefs into modern capitalist landlords that followed the final defeat of the Jacobite cause in 1745.)

The Māori Party, the Greens, and the Labour Māori Caucus may soon find their radical constitutional plans opposed by an alliance of Māori and Pakeha forces that traverses Left and Right. Included in the opposition, the tertiary-educated and largely middle-class Māori and Pakeha radicals may find not only those Māori who identify primarily as New Zealanders (the nearly half of Maoridom who opt to go on the General Electoral Roll) but also the very poorest and most marginalised Māori.

Young Māori, tertiary qualified, fluent in te reo, and earning a six-figure salary from a government agency, may find that they are not received all that warmly by Māori who are crammed into motels, micro-managed by MSD, forced to work for the minimum wage at jobs that don’t pay the rent, and then made to feel worthless on account of their inability to speak their own language, feed their families, or make sure their children attend school. Race and nationality are powerful markers of identity – but so, too, is socio-economic status. So is class.

The ultimate irony of a radical Māori nationalist push for a republic would be an answering surge towards monarchical institutions. A Māori-Pakeha alliance forged between members of the Professional-Managerial Class in pursuit of a radically identarian republic may yet find itself opposed by a Māori-Pakeha alliance embracing all social classes and dedicated to installing not one, but two, monarchs over New Zealand. Their unifying slogan, harking all the way back to the formation of the Kingitanga in the 1850s, could well be: “King Charles III in his place, King Tuheitia in his, and the Treaty of Waitangi over them both.”

It is not difficult to imagine the said King Charles, and King Tuheitia, at Turangawaewae, jointly signing a new covenant, in which the common rights and privileges of all New Zealanders, and the resources and treasures of both its peoples, are reaffirmed, protected and guaranteed by the two Crowns, and the democratically elected bi-cameral parliament, of the dual monarchy of Aotearoa-New Zealand.

The radical, Māori nationalist drive towards a te Tiriti-driven, identarian republican constitution, written to advance the interests of both the Māori and the Pakeha members of the Professional-Managerial Class, may end up driving the traditional defenders of capitalism, liberal democracy, and the rights and aspirations of working people, into a set of constitutional arrangements as odd as they are innovative.

Radical, identarian republicanism may yet make royalists of us all.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 15 September 2022.


The Barron said...

This is an unfortunate article. I do not think it was meant to be, but is a demonstration of neo-colonialism at play.

I will first give my critique of the description of the 'serious constitution conference'. I attended and observed the conference, the first thing to note was that Maori were party to the conference from the beginning rather than it being one 'attempted by well-meaning Pakeha'. The first day more establishment Maori, such as Sir Tipene O'Regan and what was seen as more radical Maori advocates worked together to ensure that the Treaty Of Waitangi was centric to any constitutional developments. This was not as naturalised as it is now, and the play of 'multiculturalism' v 'biculturalism' and narrowed view of democracy played out. However, in a rare display of unity, Maoritanga stood together and won day one. The Treaty would be party to all discussions. The factions of Maoridom did not necessarily agree on day two as to the implementation of this, but the Treaty could not be set aside.

I don't really recall republicanism being a major factor. Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi both had monarchists and those who would see NZ as a republic. The day one focus on the Treaty should not have been a surprise to any and both forms of governing can contain Treaty implementation. As such, the conference should have worked on Treaty inclusive models on day two, but schisms in both Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi failed to regroup and join as monarchist and republican.

We should note, the international and national legal acknowledgement of the Treaty as not only a covenant between peoples, but a legal framework. Maori were not the only ones at the conference that wished to maintain this. Many Pakeha and new migrant societies were proud this gave their path to NZ standing, and wished to work towards the original intent of the parties.

As I accused the article as neo-colonial, perhaps it is helpful to examine British colonial practice in the Pacific. In Tonga, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji and Samoa, and attempts in NZ and the Marquesas, to establish one dominant ruling monarch. This was a combination of the goals of the British and missionaries, and fed into the traditional fight for mana, titles and land. In all cases, the British diplomacy, favoritism and supply of guns lead to major civil wars, and considerable loss of life and culture. Exhausted by warfare and disease, the monarchs that had 'united' the islands into single kingdoms were ripe for colonization by the powers [NB: full acknowledgement of the French in Tahiti and Marquesas, Germans in Samoa and the USA in Hawaii and the Marquesas]. This was the colonial playbook.


The Barron said...

Part Two:
The Kingitanga was different from this because the Treaty has already (in theory) protected hapu rights. Instead, the Kingitanga was the wish of a number of hapu and Iwi to establish a monarch that could represent those iwi and hapu on equal grounds with the British Crown. In this, those groupings met and acknowledged the mana of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero of Waikato and Ngati Maniapoto. Those that agreed within the Kingitanga entered into a political and spiritual alliance, the different Iwi and hapu had their own arrangements and commitments, while maintaining their own mana. structure and leadership.

While all throughout the rohe acknowledge the mana of King Tuheitia, it is a minority that acknowledge his mana over them. Those within the Kingitanga have their relationships, and those outside the Kingitanga have what should be seen as bi-lateral relationship with the Kingitanga.

The idea of any other power, including the NZ government, imposing the Kingitanga leadership over the mana of their own Arikinui and Rangitira is a colonial imposition. Even telling these hapu and iwi that they must organize themselves under an 'outside' King rather than the largely democratic structures they have evolved for themselves is neo-colonial. The legal framework in NZ is that the relation between the Crown and hapu is derived from the Treaty, this was largely voluntarily entered into, while extended to non-signatories. I am not sure under what framework the suggested covenant is being proposed. What it shows is that we have not progressed from 19th Century colonial thinking, or old white men on the floor deciding post-WWI middle-eastern monarchies.

The constitutional conference twenty odd years ago needed to decolonize the mind of the attendees before progress could be made. The article shows that this is still not the case.

Perhaps the prophet Bob Marley should be listened to as a guideline for future constitutional discussion when he drew the attention to Marcus Garvey-

"We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign."

Both Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi need to approach constitutional discussions from the starting point of decolonisation, no neo-colonialism.

Chris Trotter said...

To: The Barron @17:07

There is much to respond to in these two comments, Barron, and I am confident many readers of Bowalley Road will do so.

For now, I will confine myself to the observation that your response to the post not only confirms its analysis, but also exposes the "talking past each other" quality of the whole constitutional debate.

Even when the willingness is there to engage with those with whom there is disagreement - which is seldom - there does not appear to be the agreement over basic facts that makes meaningful debate possible.

This is a serious political problem, with potentially tragic consequences.

David George said...

Chris: "Young Māori, tertiary qualified, fluent in te reo, and earning a six-figure salary from a government agency, may find that they are not received all that warmly by Māori who are crammed into motels, micro-managed by MSD, forced to work for the minimum wage at jobs that don’t pay the rent, and then made to feel worthless on account of their inability to speak their own language, feed their families, or make sure their children attend school."

I had to laugh- the woke thought police are now coming after young Maori that aren't deathly serious about the culture - even the tertiary educated are failing the neo puritan edicts.

"Controversial 'Shed Pāti' at University of Otago's Arana College sparks backlash" wailed the headline - oh dear a "backlash"

"A party in which students were encouraged to wear their "best hori attire" has sparked backlash in the wake of Māori Language Week.

"The "Shed Pāti" held at the University of Otago's Arana College on Saturday was organised by Māori students, who have apologised for causing offence with what was simply intended as a fun party.

An advertisement for the party was posted on TikTok by Rangikata Turner O'Carroll, who criticised the event as perpetuating harmful stereotypes."

Tossers! Billy T would be rolling in his grave

The Barron said...

Thanks, Chris. I will briefly respond to the 'talking past each other' point, and hopefully will do so with good old dialectic analysis. The current power structure in NZ is colonial, not post colonial. Any constitutional change is either an extension of the colonial structure which is neo-colonial as it is power imposed over the will and interest of the indigenous, or, constitutional change strives to move towards power alongside. This is a decolonization model.

Talking past each other is only possible when voices are equitably heard. The very basis of social movement, be it class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and able-body, is to emphasis the voices of those that cannot be heard in the distribution of power. In a settler society, the indigenous framework is often masked by the naturalization of a mono-cultural model. We should not confuse talking down to with talking past.

David George said...

I'm not sure, The Barron, what you mean by decolonise, or some of the other terms come to that. That you didn't feel it necessary to explain is significant; do you really want the people to get on board with what you're suggesting. Perhaps you don't care; the whole thing to be decided behind closed doors?

I'm highly sceptical of the whole idea of some sort of dual sovereignty/governance structure. The opaque terminology, the covert introduction, the proposals and actions in that direction by the current government have only served to heighten concerns that what is being offered is unfair, undemocratic, divisive and socially incoherent. Yip, yip that's what it is, as Jacinda would say.

David George said...

People will (should?) be concerned with the state initiated attempts to control discussion on these issues - the explicit instructions directed at recipients of the multi million dollar media fund/bribe, the establishment of a clearly partisan "disinformation" project and the very specific charter of the proposed state owned mega media outfit. Jacinda & Co., in concert with Big Tech executives, are intent on direct control of the internet - all for our own good of course. If you're thinking that, that control and demonisation of discussion and dissent is in your interests, think again.

In a Supremely ironic move now the British FSU (their equivalent of our Free Speech Union) have been de-monitised by Pay Pal.

"Big Tech executives hope that we won’t push back against their actions. If they chip away at groups and people at the fringes of popular debate, they hope nobody will oppose the political pruning that serves to keep their reputation intact. That’s because there is too little reputational damage caused now for corporate acts of censorship. We ought to remember that our reach for liberty is always curbed at the fringes. To anyone who believes in the right to freedom of speech, it is time to draw a line in the sand and say: no more."

Chris is a founder (I'm a financial contributor) of the NZ FSU, please help support them. While we still can?

Incidentally, a week ago I linked to an essay by Tom Slater - one of the founders of the British FSU. They are non partisan and have taken a stand in supporting a diverse range of people, their discussion and dissent - including, most recently, the republican protestors at the Queen's funeral events.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"unfair, undemocratic, divisive and socially incoheren"
As opposed to neoliberalism which divides his between rich and poor? Never seen you complain about that.

The Barron said...

The first step is not to naturalise current thinking and institutions, rather to analyze where they came from and how and why they came to introduced. Them also look at what thinking and institutions did it replace, and how resources, empowerment and opportunities were affected by the replacement.

A decolonisation process would examine this and rethink principles in relation to indigenous ontology, involvement and empowerment.

I like that you have adked the question, David, and I am aware you are one who seeks knowledge and philosophies. There are better explanations and models of decolonising processes than I can provide. I hope you seek them out and critique.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I'm sort of tired of explaining this, but private companies can censor you for any reason at all for no reason. The terms of service are laid out before you sign up, and if you don't like them you are free to go somewhere else.
You could try somewhere like "Truth" social, which pretends that it doesn't censor people but it does, including for things like criticising "Truth" Social. And it's not as if the founder of PayPal is a commie or anything right? One of the most right-wing guys around AFAIK – perhaps you could write to him personally?
And while I would normally support a nonpartisan (I am assuming we can trust your word about it) organisation that helps people who have been arrested by a Tory government for holding up a blank piece of paper, it doesn't matter. Capitalism is capitalism and tends to do whatever it likes. And you of course David support capitalism at its most extreme forms. So the words hoist and petard spring to mind. :)

David George said...

Thanks Barron,
I spent some time finding about "de-colonisation"; a wide range of definitions and intended outcomes that's for sure. Some quite concerning but mostly a naïve reverence for some sort of Arcadian paradise that never existed and one with very limited relevance to the multicultural liberal democracy we inhabit. Things can, and have, been far worse as most people are aware. I suspect/hope that the attempts to introduce ethnicity into our political, economic and social realm will be overturned, that Kiwi's are not that foolish.

There's no harm in offering up a societal theory, I guess, but history is littered with the consequences of their incautious adoption. The promised peace and prosperity never arrives, usually a complete collapse into chaos follows, in even the eventually successful ones - the American revolution for example. I'm a conservative so my inclination is toward caution, best summed up by the great conservative philosopher Edmund Burke:

“The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it,
or reforming it, is, like every other experimental science, not to
be taught a priori. Nor is it a short experience that can instruct us
in that practical science; because the real effects of moral
causes are not always immediate, but that which in the first
instance is prejudicial may be excellent in its remoter operation,
and its excellence may arise even from the ill effects it produces
in the beginning. The reverse also happens; and very plausible
schemes, with very pleasing commencements, have often
shameful and lamentable conclusions. In states there are often
some obscure and almost latent causes, things which appear at
first view of little moment, on which a very great part of its
prosperity or adversity may most essentially depend.”

Here's a talk from another great conservative philosopher: A Vision For conservatives. It covers a wide range of topics Humility, Liberty, Autonomy, Truth, Agency, Identity, Merit, Responsibility, Community, Stewardship, Justice, Tradition, Unity. 38 minutes

David George said...

From the linked talk.
Stewardship: Those who uphold the conservative ethos can offer responsible stewardship as the appropriate response to the necessity of maintaining harmony in our relationship with the natural world upon which our lives ultimately depend. This is an extension of the proper canonical response to the treasures of the historical past. That which is valuable
should be recognized, valued, maintained, guarded and passed on down the generational

The scope of human activities has expanded in recent decades to a scale that makes of those activities a genuine planetary force. This presents us with real dangers as well as unparalleled opportunities. Panicked apocalyptic thinking in relation to the former demoralizes, invites a careless and self-serving demonization and derogation and justifies the kind of impulsive incautious reactive global response that can easily produce unforeseen problems of the same magnitude or greater than the original problem.

Thoughtful stewards of the natural world, governed by the doctrines intrinsic to the western canon, can as an alternative recognize the particulars of the problems characterizing the relationship between our industrial culture and the natural world can confidently note the fact that the human ingenuity most effectively manifested in free societies has, and might endlessly and ever more efficiently, continue to ameliorate poverty and rectify excessive inequality, can encourage conceptualization of the human population and its constituent individuals as a net good in the planetary context,
can deliver to young people first and foremost the message that people of faith courage and good will can manage the very real problems that confront us and make the future not the apocalypse that is always threatening but the eternally productive and abundant garden.

David George said...


A house divided against itself cannot stand. Respect for individual sovereignty, appreciation for the intact family, responsible engagement in civic institutions, gratitude for the traditions that bind us and protect us from chaos and courageous trust in the essential good will of others means unity in both appearance and reality. Conservatives, at their best, are characterized by profound appreciation for the necessity of such unity apprehending it properly as the basis for the peaceful cooperation and competition that made, makes, and keeps us strong in the face of both adversity and enmity.

Such unity also provides for the psychological and social predictability and structure
that keeps the destabilizing terror of uncertainty at bay as well as for the shared communal purpose that provides the very framework for individual hope.

The notion that no such unity is possible or that it is always purchased through the use of self-interested power and compulsion means only in the first case that disunity and the chaos that accompanies it is inevitable and in the second that a profound misunderstanding is in place regarding the causal relationship between true stability and productive peace and the principles of free choice voluntary association, reciprocal exchange, mature capacity to forestall gratification and responsible action. The acceptance of these twin presumptions dooms their holder to a counterproductive and destabilizing anxiety and aimless, hopelessness and a consequent bitter cynicism and with no conceptual or practical alternative to the personal wielding of arbitrary force. This is a recipe for personal doom and social catastrophe.

David George said...


The blind and instrumental insistence that the truth is an illusion and that nothing but power truly rules has left virtually everything of true and enduring use as a guide to purpose and a bulwark against despair abandoned on the wayside. The demoralized people of the west, and indeed in the rest of the world, are therefore crying out for the restoration of the abdicated values of individual sovereignty and responsible genuine social service
and purpose whose acceptance and embodiment make our free societies possible, productive admirable, generative and stable.

Conservatives who abide by the dictates of the eternal western canon have the opportunity
beckoning in front of them to once again make the case that the principles upon which we
operate, the virtues in which we believe and the freedom we have been divinely granted truly and eternally constitute the basis for the life more abundant which people of good faith desire and which we have every ability to establish and maintain.

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