Tuesday 6 December 2022

A Matter Of Trust.

Hard To Win, Easy To Lose: Trust cuts both ways. It is equally critical, in political terms, that a government trusts the people to at least the same extent as the people trust the government. Indeed, nothing erodes the voters’ trust faster than evidence their own government considers them untrustworthy.

TRUST. Nothing is more important to a government than the trust of the governed. With trust, there is very little that a government cannot accomplish. Without it, durable political accomplishments are much less likely. Jacinda Ardern’s government is currently teetering on the brink of forfeiting a crucial percentage of the electorate’s trust – more than enough to cost it the next election.

Trust, of course, cuts both ways. It is equally critical, in political terms, that a government trusts the people to at least the same extent as the people trust the government. Indeed, nothing erodes the voters’ trust faster than evidence their own government considers them untrustworthy.

At the heart of the political uncertainties enveloping the concept of co-governance is the Labour Government’s all-too-obvious lack of trust in the Pakeha majority. A lack of trust also displayed by the National Party. What other explanation could John Key possibly offer for sending the Māori Party’s co-leader, Pita Sharples, to New York, in conditions of virtual secrecy, to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

Given that UNDRIP was largely authored by, and has become the crowning achievement of an indigenous New Zealander, Moana Jackson, a New Zealand government, untroubled by the public’s reaction, might have been expected to make more of the event than a diplomatic fait accompli. Likewise, with respect to the formation of a special working group tasked with identifying the cultural and constitutional changes required to give full effect to UNDRIP.

A government untroubled by the political ramifications of such an investigation would not have kept its existence hidden from its coalition partner. A government willing to trust the New Zealand electorate would not have kept the working group’s report – He Puapua – under wraps. On the contrary, it would have welcomed the lively political debate which the unedited Report’s voluntary release would undoubtedly have generated.

But, as we all know, trust was lacking. Not only was the re-elected Labour Government anxious to keep the document secret, but those Māori with a deep interest in constitutional reform – including Moana Jackson – similarly manifested a strong aversion to debating He Puapua’s recommendations openly in the public square.

Even when the full text of He Puapua was leaked to former Act MP Muriel Newman’s right-wing New Zealand Centre for Political Research, the reaction of the Labour Government was to downplay its significance and emphasise that it was not – repeat NOT – government policy. The Prime Minister went further: flatly ruling-out implementing one of the Report’s most controversial recommendations – the creation of an Upper House of Parliament, composed of an equal number of Māori and non-Māori members, and tasked with testing the legislation passed up to it by the Lower House against the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Jacinda Ardern’s reflexive rejection of the proposed Upper House was not only precipitate, it was also politically injudicious. There are many recommendations contained within the He Puapua report that are considerably more problematic than the creation of an Upper House. Indeed, if a government was anxious to demonstrate to voters the efficacy of the principle of co-governance, then a second chamber made up of 50 percent Māori and 50 percent Non-Māori, would be precisely the right place to start.

An Upper House constitutionally limited to reviewing, reporting-on, and – if necessary – returning, legislation to the House of Representatives for further consideration and/or revision, could play a powerfully educative role in preparing the population for other cultural and constitutional changes.

Critical to the Upper House fulfilling such an educative function would be the elimination, as far as practicable, of all the debilitating distractions of partisanship.

For the Māori half of the Chamber, this could be achieved by delegating the choice of representatives to an agreed-upon roll of collective Māori entities. The manner of identifying these entities’ representatives would be determined by the iwi and hapu involved. Some might opt for election, others for more traditional methods of identifying and anointing leaders.

For the Pakeha half of the Chamber, partisanship might be avoided by following the example of Seanad Éireann, the Irish Senate, members of which are appointed to represent Public Administrators, the Legal Profession, Employers, Farmers, Trade Unions, the Universities, and people prominent in the world of Arts and Letters.

Anxious to move beyond the murderous allegiances of the Irish Civil War (1922-23) the framers of the Irish Republic’s constitution strove to construct an upper house guided not by fierce party loyalties, but by a determination to meet the challenges of self-government by harnessing the wisdom of the whole nation.

Thus constituted, the proposed Upper House could play a crucial role in identifying, investigating, and debating to what extent each piece of legislation passed by the House of Representatives conformed to – or deviated from – the principles of the Treaty. Have the decisions of the lower house strengthened or weakened the partnership between the Crown and tangata whenua? Are its decisions justified? Or should the legislation be sent back to the House for further deliberation?

It is difficult to conceive of a more gentle or thoughtful way of demonstrating the value of co-governance as a method for devising policies and making laws which both Māori and Non-Māori can accept without reservation and/or resentment. An Upper House with strictly limited powers, but constituted in such a way that the worth of legislation driven by purely partisan considerations can be assessed by those beholden to very different principles, would fast become the respected educator of the nation.

The Prime Minister’s rejection of this key He Puapua recommendation – almost out of hand – is deeply regrettable. As a means of instilling and demonstrating trust in the capacity of Māori and Non-Māori to determine and advance their best mutual interests, an Upper House has a great deal more to recommend it than Labour’s (and the Greens’) increasingly divisive Three Waters project, which, right from the start, has communicated to all affected parties an almost total lack of trust.

That Māori have myriad reasons to withhold their trust from Pakeha is undisputed by those with even a rudimentary understanding of New Zealand history. To refuse trust as a matter of policy, however, cannot hope to bring Māori and Pakeha close enough to jointly determine a mutually rewarding future for Aotearoa-New Zealand. For that to happen, both peoples need to trust each other enough to embrace new and untried solutions.

The Prime Minister should withdraw her objection to the creation of a co-governed Upper House. Let New Zealanders witness in public the Treaty debates that, hitherto, have only taken place in private. If there is wisdom and generosity to be found in the processes of co-governance, then let their virtues be seen by Māori and Non-Māori alike.

Trust them, and New Zealanders will, almost always, make the right choice.

This essay was originally posted on the Interest.co.nz website on Monday, 5 December 2022.


DS said...

And how long before that Upper House demands veto power over the enactments of the democratic Lower House? How are Maori who do not identify with Iwi finding representation? How many appointments from either side will simply become a means of rewarding political hacks (like the Canadian Senate or the UK House of Lords)? Where does this leave Pacific Island and Asian New Zealanders?

Anonymous said...

Nice try Chris, but I would not trust this lot with an upper house. They have so deeply and thoroughly demonstrated their untrustworthiness.

greywarbler said...

Our problem is that we forget that we are a small population, and even allowing a flood of 'paying students' and tied cheap workers, does not boost us to the level of the countries we follow for hints on what to do - the USA, the UK etc. But we are still like Andorra and San Marino on a larger scale; actually the size of Finland, Denmark, Slovakia, Congo etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_(United_Nations)
Denmark is one to watch and perhaps follow as they have been quite successfully hard-headed: https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Danegeld
Danegeld was a tax raised to pay tribute or protection money to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. It was called the geld or gafol in ..

Our neighbour Australia has 25 million compared to our 5 million. But still we could do much if we concentrated on our own practicalities and initiatives. The tiny Isle of Man had its own administration and practices back in history and they like to claim developed its parliament called Tynwald back 1,000 years; (came under the rule of the Norse in 1079 but in 1266, Norway's King Magnus VI ceded the island to Scotland.) ...the first record of the [Tynwald] place-name occurs in the 13th–14th century Chronicle of Mann, and the first description of the role and composition of an assembly held on site occurs in the early 15th century.

With determination we could craft something to suit ourselves; different than what we have but not automatically plumping for the Co-Governance dreamed up by a proved incompetent Labour government. This is the Tynwald system:

https://www.britannica.com/place/Isle-of-Man - The Isle of Man approach now:
The government consists of an elected president; a Legislative Council, or upper house; and a popularly elected House of Keys, or lower house. The two houses function as separate legislative bodies but come together to form what is known as the Tynwald Court to transact legislative business. The House of Keys constitutes one of the most ancient legislative assemblies in the world. The Isle of Man levies its own taxes.

We should not buy into anything that is offered us from Labour like Jack going for a handful of beans. Of course National and their fellow travellers have no more intellect than the clods that their farmer base arose from. The sum total of the two parties' ideas about Maori and co-governance could end up in a nasty turf war leaving us unable to cope with climate change and further the noticeable loss of values and concern for all people in our society.

We need to elect people to our government who will nurture us and not sell off our jewels to the pirates from elsewhere. And remember Denmark and Portugal rose to heights in the past, from small beginnings. We aren't the only ones to be vital and punch above our weight. But we are too soon self-satisfied with success and sit back in self-congratulation once praised from overseas, that's what counts for all to us. Sleazy governments are okay with us, as long as we get buttered up from the Big Players waiting to scoop up our achievements and gain the profit we would have built further on in time. Short termism!

Steve Todd said...

I support the creation of an upper house (a Treaty House, Chris?), comprising 60 senators — 30 General and 30 Māori.

To ensure it was quite separate and distinct from the 120-seat House of Representatives, the General senators could
be elected from six five-seat vocational panel-based constituencies, being ‘Administrative’; ‘Agricultural’; ‘Cultural, Educational and Civil Society’; ‘Industrial and Commercial’; ‘Labour’; and ‘Legal and Medical’.

Each panel would be elected nationwide by STV. Electors on the General Roll would nominate which panel they wish to vote for, i.e., they would self-divide into their preferred constituencies.

As an example of who would be eligible to stand for election, the “cultural, educational and civil society” panel would contain the names of persons “having knowledge and practical experience of the following interests and services, namely, cultural heritage; literature, art, and education; civil society and cyber society (including information and communications technology).”

As another example, the “labour” panel would contain the names of persons “having knowledge and practical experience of the following interests and services, namely, labour, whether organised or unorganised, including the skilled trades.” It would be set out in the relevant legislation that the skilled trades include those in the agriculture, construction, food and service, maintenance and repair, manufacturing and industrial, and transportation fields.

The composition of the Māori side of the senate would, as you imply, be up to Māori to decide, but hopefully, provision would be made for the effective inclusion of those who have no iwi/hapū affiliations.

Odysseus said...

An enduring and I believe indelible New Zealand trait is egalitarianism. From it arises a strong commitment to universal and equal suffrage as the basis of our system of government. These are also fundamental characteristics of democracy enshrined in international human rights law. Our forebears did not escape the tyranny of a class system in the old world only to create another here, where one's lot in life would be determined by the accident of birth. The Treaty promised equality of all before the law, under a unitary State. The Common Law provides for the customary rights of the first settlers from Polynesia to be recognized and protected.

"Co-governance" is a coup against all these values and principles. Labour's intentions here are now plain for all to see, despite the lies and the clumsy, laughable attempts to finesse "co -governance" into existence. The polls are showing the tide rapidly turning against Ardern and Labour. The entrenchment of racial privilege is so alien to former, core Labour principles that the course they are embarked on will surely cast the party onto the rocks and perhaps bring about its demise. Today almost half the Labour Caucus are, according to the latest Roy Morgan poll, staring into the abyss, their political careers finished before they really began. They have one last chance to redeem themselves by voting against the Three Waters bill which privatizes all of New Zealand's water and water infrastructure into the hands of an ethnic elite. We know, however, that they are unlikely not take that chance. History will, accordingly, claim its due.

Shane McDowall said...

New Zealand ditched its Upper House in 1951. The main reason was the problem of stacking the House.

Bringing this legislative corpse back to life is in the interests of nobody, except political hacks looking for a sinecure - sort of like diplomatic posts are now.

Co-governance is an abomination. The Maori seats are an anachronism. And Maori wards on local councils is a step backwards.

If my fellow Maori want political office, they can stand for election like everyone else.

Brendan McNeill said...

How would 'co-governance' operating in an upper house with the power of veto be any different than the proposed three waters / five waters legislation with or without an entrenchment option?

Show me just one country where race based politics has been a facilitator of social cohesion.

nicholastwig said...

On third reading I still find this argument very strange Chris. I don't find the word trust very useful at all - it's knowledge we strive for. Simply the difference all through here, has been whether we are one people or two. Pakeha undoubtedly can be 'trusted' to favour one people - individuals from both (all) cultures expected to take part in a democratic process of having been chosen by the people to represent them. Maori, I now belatedly understand are not a democratic people but one ruled by a rangatira class (as once were Europeans - in fact a human norm) and it seems to be a matter of the mana of this Rangatira class that they're only gonna do it their way. AND - speaking of 'trust" can be trusted to pull any damn stunt they can to get it. Even though well and truly rumbled 'they' Mahutas? blunder on in a not very smart or admirable manner. It is a matter of embarrassment which, very unfortunately will leave rank and file Maori feeling more picked on than they have felt before.

Anonymous said...

It's too late now. Trust has been destroyed by treason. Revenge is nigh at the ballot. Also, a minor point, we are all New Zealanders. We all have mixed blood of the World. Why is Maori culture so important that we all feel pressured to embrace it as opposed to accept it in it's natural setting?
If New Zealanders who are born of Maori and another race want to identify as Maori only, that is their choice. But how does that give them special privilege?
We might have to consign the treaty to the bin, replace it with a constitution and just get on with sorting out our real problems which are not insignificant.

sumsuch said...

Criminy, Chris. I thought that was one of the things you didn't want us to talk about -- your co-governance days. You've changed your mind so many times but we follow you for that changing human response. Syncretism is the worst crime of the bankrupt indivige.


This Government at every turn has forfeited the trust of the New Zealand public. The list of their trust defaults is a long one the most prominent of which is their failure to carry through with a capital gains tax. No other policy defines the Labour Party and demonstrates so clearly as this the dividing lines between the parties. They were elected on the basis that the legislation would be passed. And then they flipped. A fundamental breach of Trust!

Tutukaka said...

As always, Chris, much to agree with, and much to be concerned about. New Zealand must find a governance “formula” which accounts for its changing demographics, and I don’t think that Māori v The Rest will be a useful model.

I do think that we would benefit from a small, efficient, upper chamber with, as you say, “strictly limited powers”.

D'Esterre said...

"Not only was the re-elected Labour Government anxious to keep the document secret, but those Māori with a deep interest in constitutional reform – including Moana Jackson – similarly manifested a strong aversion to debating He Puapua’s recommendations openly in the public square."

Of course the government was anxious to keep He Puapua secret. It knows full well that the proposals in that document aren't democratic. And of course the non-Maori section of the populace who've read it knows it as well. So do Maori, which is why Moana Jackson and others didn't - and don't - wish to debate the issues. None of them could propose a coherent argument, that would hold constitutional water, in its defence. It is simply indefensible.

Why on earth would anyone who isn't Maori trust this government? Or the Maori activist cohort?

The Treaty contains no principles, no mention of partnership. What you see when you read both versions is what you get. The Treaty was an agreement between Queen Victoria and her subjects: nothing of the sort claimed could have been contemplated at that time. Assertions about partnership and principles are post-facto revisionism.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Brendan McNeill.

If you read the post again, Brendan, you will note that I deliberately withhold the power of veto from my upper house. It has the power to delay, and to refer back, but not to veto legislation. If the lower house, upon reconsideration opts to stick with its original plans, then that is that - the endorsement of the upper house is not required.

Obviously, it would be a bad look to ignore the (hopefully wise) counsel of the upper house, but if the government of the day is willing to wear the consequences, then its judgement must prevail.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Shane McDowall.

You are quite right about the Legislative Council, Shane. My proposal, however, envisages a very different body - one not prone to "stacking", which proved, as you say, the downfall of the LC.

The virtue of the solution I propose, is that it has the potential to teach both Maori and Pakeha how to talk about governance and the Treaty publicly (the proceedings of the upper house would be televised live) without rancour, and with a view to finding practical solutions.

The alternative, doing away with the lot, risks massive political turmoil, or even civil war. Personally, I favour giving the principle of co-governance a try - within strict democratic constraints.

If it fails - then it fails. Jaw, jaw, will be replaced by war, war. To the ruin of us all.

Kit Slater said...

To my way of thinking the greatest impediment to the success of co-governance is the incompatibility of institutions. Those of tribal Mesolithic hunter-gatherer societies constantly at war share nothing whatsoever with those developed in densely-populated and highly commercial nation states. Institutions that evolved to regulate processes such as legal, educational, governmental, healthcare, welfare, monetary, infrastructure and so on have zero relevance to a primitive stone-age culture. Where Maoris and Maori culture succeed, it is through the employment of civilisational principles introduced by 18th colonisers and refined continuously since. Trying to apply Maori values and institutions to modern society is doomed to failure. But then, that might be the purpose.
Blut und Boden, Grundlagen zum Neuen Reich.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I guess Kit that there is that at your apparent age no cure for your racism. But the constant refrain from racists that Maori were constantly engaged in warfare should perhaps be set against a number of things. Just for context's sake mind.
1. Assuming your ancestors are British, they were involved in roughly a war every 18 months during the 19th century.
2. Europeans in general started a war that killed more than 40 million people in 1914, and somewhere close to 80 million – about 3% of the worlds population, in 1939.
3. People who talk about Maori being at constantly war and killing people, should perhaps reflect on the Holocaust?
4. Not to mention the various in the main, futile wars since 1945.

As far as the rest goes – Before their land was taken away, Maori enterprise was notable. They pretty much ran the coastal trade in New Zealand, and funnily enough, trade is not necessarily restricted to "civilised" societies.
And given that our legal system is essentially based on primitive Anglo-Saxon culture – oh Christ I give up, it literally is a waste of time talking to you, but hopefully others may take a little less notice of you after I point out your idiocies.
Still I like to be optimistic – my father managed to overcome his British oriented racism when he was a little older than you probably, they may be hope for you yet.

Shane McDowall said...

No Mr Slater,

You do not oppose co-governance because of incompatibility of "mesolithic"cultures with contemporary nation states.

You oppose co-governance because you despise Maori.

Who are you trying to kid otherwise ?...Yourself ?

At least you are up-front racist. I will give you credit for that much.

As your spiritual and political mentor said many times:

Ein Reich Ein Volk Ein Fuhrer!

Kit Slater said...

Amazing that a common-sense comment animates the flaps and squawks of Energizer Parrots, showing the way their one-word vocabulary invalidates their commentary and demonstrates just how shallow reactionary judgement can get.

Guerilla Surgeon repeats himself with no improvement in comprehension about European wars. As I’ve said on this forum in the past, and for the benefit of deeper thinkers, violence in primitive societies is down to retributive subsidiarity which goes some way to explain the greater level of it in Maori society where it is known as utu. “Revenge is as dear to these people, as the greatest enjoyment of life.”*

For modern society it is as Hobbes explains it in Leviathan, the social contract and the state’s legitimate use of force. The value of human life increased vastly after civilisation reached these shores and represented true progress, rather than endless cycles of slaughter. But ingroup amity, outgroup enmity is a feature common to all mankind, whether the culture is primitive or modern. What civilisation has gradually improved is the resolution to conflict. 19th century Maori chiefs recognised and understood this, entreating King William IV to “be the parent of their infant state.”**

* J. S. Polack, Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders, vol. 2, p. 22. Quoted in Moon, Paul. This Horrid Practice p.175.
** J Robinson Twisting the Treaty p22

Andrew Nichols said...

"...Three Waters bill which privatizes all of New Zealand's water and water infrastructure into the hands of an ethnic elite". If youre going to spout blatant and racist untruths like this, the debate will be debased. The 3 waters entities are NOT to be private entities. There is a specific prohibition on their privatisation. Bodies like this to manage water are the norm in the OECD and will solve the very real problems that plague the sector in NZ which stem from the funding and management baving to compete for attention with all other more sexy areas in overstretched council budgets. The best model is the old Christchurch Drainage Board which superbly ran the Christchurch infrastructure for over 100 yrs until it was sadly abolished in 1989.

sumsuch said...

Agree with a contemplative powerless upper house independently selected. Our unicameral parliament has been terrible. The lack of talk at the highest level about our future. We endlessly rush in. So much regret.

sumsuch said...

Boy, you're sophisticted, Kit. We're about the 'pertinent' truth, that's our thing.

What matters.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Kit, if we're talking about repetition, your simplistic and racist comments about Maori come up every with boring regularity also. There basically is only one way to counter them and that is explain how simplistic, one eyed, and stupid they are.
If "civilisation" has improved the resolution to conflict, how do you explain the Holocaust? That seems to have been motivated by what you flatulently call retributive subsidiarity right? In fact World War II was also motivated by this pretty much. Honestly you might have a lot of big words but you understand absolutely fuck all about the history of human society. It's a pity you didn't live up to your statement to your chum Dufresne about not commenting on this site due to the number of people who don't use their real names. Seriously, your opinions would not be missed. And really –
deeper thinkers? Laughable. Someone could walk through your deepest thoughts and not get their ankles wet.

Kit Slater said...

There’s something I call the “aah” moment, argumentum ad hominem, where topical dialogue leaves an individual bereft of reason so s/he resorts to personal insults, caring not whether they’re relevant. It’s an inferior form of digressive discourse, to avoid the pursuit of a hypothesis. Such people have an inability to cope with cognitive dissonance, so they retreat to a mode of flat denial rather than one of productive discussion. No-one can quote a racist comment of mine, because I’ve made none. My interest is not in Maori as a race, but in Maori culture and society from a historical perspective, and particularly, the fraudulent world-view that has been created around it.

I could hope that commentators would realise that institutions are foundational to the way society operates; that they incorporate societal ethics, and that they adjust to the changes in the moral climate. But where two cultures are as disparate as Maori and modern, where accommodation is displaced by separatism, and where ethnicity and land become the foundation for a new form of governance, trust will be an early victim. Historically, the consequences of cultural difference tend towards failure, and more often than not, the absence of trust is the cause.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

If we do descend into insults Kit which is quite common when you comment, is because you make racist comments.

You denigrate Maori culture and characterise it as inferior. Anyone who can't see this as racist is probably .... racist. You'd make a great chum for good old John Banks who made shitty comments about Maori culture being "Stone Age". And then made a non-apology – although at least he had the .... decency? to do this. You simply persist. To be fair, one couldn't accuse you of having cognitive dissonance, your racism presumably goes deep down.
And to be honest, if you regard calling a racist racist as a personal insult, perhaps you should look at the reasons why – a little bit of introspection never goes amiss seems to me.

What's also interesting is that you also assume that Maori have learnt nothing since the 19th century. They now participate in the democratic process. And they haven't started a war or eaten anyone for approximately 150 years. :)

Kit Slater said...

Woke culture and its anti-rational mindset seems to have taken Boasian relativism to the point where analysis and comparison are no longer possible. Maori culture is definitively stone age, and this is factual, not an insult or racist. It is simply the categorisation of cultural apogee and an indication of stasis. In common with other palaeolithic and mesolithic cultures, Maori culture was founded as a tribal, hierarchical, patriarchal, subsistence-level hunter-gatherer society reliant on found materials; it practiced slavery, cannibalism and, as a warrior culture, female infanticide. It had not developed writing or technology such as metalwork, bow and arrow, pottery, irrigation, the lever, arch or wheel. It lacked development, precision and refinement.

None of this should be surprising. Maori culture was isolated for 500 years, meaning essential civilisational drivers such as cultural exchange, copying and innovation were severely limited until colonisation brought the attributes of civilisation. It’s not Maori culture I object to; it’s the act of raising its importance and application beyond its seriously constrained limits – institutions, imaginary and language among them. The motivation for this cultural regression is open to speculation, but it bodes ill for the future. The process of decolonisation globally is littered with failures and no true successes, except for the tiny, self-aggrandising, corrupt elite who drove it.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

So Kit, the Maori somehow I was for all those civilisational benefits? Are you interested then in paying the Greeks for democracy? Or the Arabs for the guitar? Are you then against the monarchy, because it was founded in the dark ages? Or British law because it's based on Anglo-Saxon practice? You probably don't go in for Morris dancing a lot then?
Christ almighty you are just digging yourself further into the racism hole – I'd quit while I was ahead if I were you. Although to be fair, many of the more knuckle dragging commentators on this site would love you.
I say again, it would have been better if you'd kept your promise to your chum Dufresne and avoided this site because of all of us naughty people who don't use our own names.