|Secret Revolutionary? “I think the general public is not aware that we are going through huge revolutionary changes in the country and, in fact, we have taken that such a long way, there is no going back.” – Dame Claudia Orange|
SUPPOSE THEY MADE A REVOLUTION, and nobody noticed. Suppose the “Cabinet Office” ordered the nation’s public servants to implement an unmandated revolutionary transformation of New Zealand, and they complied. Suppose one of the leading authorities on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Dame Claudia Orange, confirmed that this revolution was, in fact, a done deal.
This is what Dame Claudia told the NZ Herald’s Audrey Young:
I think the general public is not aware that we are going through huge revolutionary changes in the country and, in fact, we have taken that such a long way, there is no going back.
Now, forgive me, but my understanding of revolutionary change is that it does not, and cannot, take place without the “general public” being aware. The active participation of the people in replacing a regime that has, in their eyes, lost all political legitimacy, is pretty much the definition of a revolution. The idea that not only could such a profound upheaval have taken place, but also gone past the point of no return, without the people either noticing it, or sanctioning it, is, quite simply, absurd.
So what should we call a programme initiated by the “Cabinet Office” (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet?) with the ultimate intention of transforming the nation’s constitutional arrangements in such a way that the “consent of the governed” need not be confirmed by democratic means?
Given that New Zealanders have lived through such a transformation before, when the programme of ruthless economic “reforms” known as “Rogernomics” was unleashed upon them without warning, and without an electoral mandate, between 1984 and 1987, then it seems only fitting that this latest attempt to impose transformational change from the top down be described in the same manner. What New Zealanders have been experiencing since 2019 is a “bureaucratic coup d’état”.
Indeed, the parallels between 1984 and the present are uncanny. In 1984, the incoming Labour Government, led by David Lange, was presented by its Treasury advisors with “Economic Management” – essentially a blueprint for Finance Minister Roger Douglas’s radical transformation of the New Zealand economy.
Prior to the 2020 general election, a similar transformational blueprint, “He Puapua” was handed to the Minister for Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta. Commissioned by the Minister in 2019 to envision a pathway to the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, “He Puapua” dovetailed neatly with the “Cabinet Office’s” instructions regarding Te Tiriti.
The parallels do not stop there. Three years after “Economic Management”, the Treasury presented the re-elected Labour Government with “Government Management” – a detailed blueprint for adapting the instruments of state administration to the needs of the new “free market”.
Three years after “He Puapua”, the re-elected Labour Government has been presented with two reports, “Ki te whaiao, ki te ao Mārama” and “Maranga Mai” both commissioned by the Human Rights Commission and reflecting the advice of some of the most radical Māori nationalists in New Zealand. Among a host of revolutionary recommendations, the “Maranga Mai” report concludes:
Reform of central and local government systems is also needed to reduce and eliminate institutional racism which cause inequities and inequalities for Māori in outcomes. This reform should uphold and align these systems with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, by following the foundational work and recommendations set out in Matike Mai Aotearoa and He Puapua reports.
Were the recommendations of “Matike Mai Aotearoa” and “He Puapua” to be followed, the manner in which New Zealanders are governed, and the rights and privileges they are heir to, would indeed be transformed – out of all recognition.
Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, has responded to the reports by committing himself to the long-term goal of “Eliminat[ing] racism in Aotearoa in all forms, in all organisations whether it’s government, non-government organisations, businesses, amongst our communities.”
New Zealanders anxious to learn how this elimination might be accomplished – especially given the Human Rights Commission’s acceptance that racism and white supremacy are baked-in to New Zealand society – should probably study the “re-education” centres established by the Chinese Government in Xinxiang to eliminate radical Islamist ideology from all mosques, schools, organisations, businesses and communities of the Uighur people.
It is difficult to believe that Labour could be contemplating a bureaucratic coup-d’état even more destructive than Rogernomics. If they are, then – this time – they will provoke a real revolution.
This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 10 February 2023.