Monday 4 December 2023

Bearing True Allegiance?

Strong Words: “We do not consent, we do not surrender, we do not cede, we do not submit; we, the indigenous, are rising. We do not buy into the colonial fictions this House is built upon. Te Pāti Māori pledges allegiance to our mokopuna, our whenua, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”  –  The Six Elected Representatives of Te Pāti Māori.

CHRISTMAS IS FAST APPROACHING, which, as it does every year, means gearing up for an abstruse general knowledge question. “Who was the first woman elected to the House of Commons?” My wife, an ardent Irish nationalist, enjoys trapping all those non-ardent Irish nationalists gathered around our Christmas dinner table into volunteering the name of Nancy Astor. Having fallen into the trap, they are then informed that the first woman elected to the House of Commons was the ardent Irish nationalist, Countess Constance Markievicz. As one, all the quizzers reach for their cellphones and Google “Nancy Astor”. Only after a gratifying amount (at least to my wife) of argy-bargy is the dispute settled.

Countess Markievicz was, indeed, the first woman elected to the House of Commons – as confirmed by Wikipedia, which states:

At the 1918 general election, Markievicz was elected for the constituency of Dublin St Patrick’s, beating her opponent William Field with 66% of the vote, as one of 73 Sinn Féin MPs. The results were called on 28 December 1918. This made her the first woman elected to the United Kingdom House of Commons. However, in line with Sinn Féin abstentionist policy, she did not take her seat in the House of Commons.

As is still the case today, Sinn Féin candidates, being good republicans, refused to swear allegiance to the British Crown, which meant that, although they had been elected, they could not be seated in the House of Commons – could not become a Member of Parliament.

That’s why my wife’s Christmas Dinner question is a trick question. If she had asked who was the first woman to be seated as a Member of the House of Commons, then all those who answered “Nancy Astor” would have been correct. Nancy Astor was elected to represent the constituency of Plymouth Sutton in 1919, duly swore allegiance to King George V, and thus became the first woman MP to be seated in the House of Commons.

The dubious pleasures of family parlour-games notwithstanding, there is a reason for raising the question of the Parliamentary Oath of Allegiance at this time. Tomorrow (5 December 2023) the 54th New Zealand Parliament will be sworn in. Before taking their seats, each and every one of the 123 members of the House of Representatives must, in English or in Māori, swear, or affirm that:

“I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles the Third, His heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

If they do not so swear, then they cannot take their seats, cast a vote, or be paid. The seats in question are not declared vacant, the people who won them continue to hold them until the House is dissolved. In the interim, they become ghosts in the parliamentary machine.

All of which adds up to a big problem for Te Pāti Māori. Why? Because TPM aren’t exactly the biggest fans of King Charles III and his constitutional monarchy. Indeed, in a media statement released on Friday, 1 December 2023, all six TPM representatives declare:

We do not consent, we do not surrender, we do not cede, we do not submit; we, the indigenous, are rising. We do not buy into the colonial fictions this House is built upon. Te Pāti Māori pledges allegiance to our mokopuna, our whenua, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We will continue to do our best by you, in accordance to our tikanga, amongst the monsters whose portraits still hang on the walls of Parliament.

Strong words! And there are plenty more.

Māori owe no allegiance to the genocidal legacy of the British Empire. There is no honour in the Crown. It is tainted with the blood of indigenous nations, and its throne sits at the apex of global white supremacy. To the sovereign of England, we say history will judge whether you have the moral capacity to shoulder responsibility for your family’s heinous legacy. It is beyond you to restore its honour - the harm caused by your Crown is now intergenerational and irreparable. Indigenous blood stains the throne you [sit] on.

Having eloquently and publicly repudiated everything the Monarch stands for, it is difficult to accept that any Parliamentary Oath of Allegiance subsequently spoken by any signatory to the Te Pāti Māori media statement of 1/12/23 could possibly be uttered in good faith. How could someone “be faithful and bear true allegiance” to what they had, only days before, described as the “genocidal legacy” of the British Crown?

What would happen if the bona fides of an oath offered pro forma and without sincerity was challenged? What if, more honourably, all six elected representatives of TPM simply refused to take the Parliamentary Oath of Allegiance?

Several things.

Arguably the most important consequence would be that the number of votes in the House of Representatives would be reduced by six, from 123 to 117. This would, in turn, mean that National and Act, with 60 seats between them, would no longer need the 8 votes of NZ First to secure a majority of the votes cast in the House of Representatives. With a winning margin of just one seat, however, that majority would be rather precarious. So the three-party coalition would, in all likelihood, remain in place – albeit with significantly altered power dynamics.

Another consequence would be the electorate’s radically changed perception of Te Pāti Māori. Like Sinn Féin in 1916, TPM would have proclaimed itself an implacable foe of the British Crown and the political system erected in its name. TPM would no longer be perceived as a “normal” political party committed to upholding the core democratic conventions of New Zealand’s constitutional monarchy.

Like the Irish nationalists of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, TPM would be seen as actively promoting an independent Māori nation, with its own culture and language, and with its own ideas about how its affairs should be organised. Unlike Sinn Féin, however, TPM cannot simply withdraw to its own island territory, populated overwhelmingly by its own people. TPM represents only a minority of the indigenous minority required to share the same geographical space with the descendants of the “genocidal” colonisers they despise.

If TPM persisted in absenting itself from the House of Representatives (as even today the Northern Irish Sinn Féin representatives absent themselves from the House of Commons) there could be one more serious consequence. Conservative Pakeha, both inside and outside of Parliament, could pose the question: “If those elected to the Māori Seats refuse to take them, then what possible reason could this country have for retaining them?”

It is difficult to imagine Labour being willing to give up the seven Māori Seats without a fight. Rather, the party would condemn TPM for betraying the hopes and dreams of the Māori electors (especially the rangatahi) who voted for them. Or, Chris Hipkins might cut a deal with Christopher Luxon and David Seymour, whereby, if those on the Māori Roll confirmed TPM’s revolutionary nationalist programme at the next election (which could be called at any time) then Labour would raise no further objections to the abolition of the Māori Seats.

There is a great deal more to the Parliamentary Oath of Allegiance that confounding the family at Christmas Dinner. If contemporary Māori nationalism has reached the same rejectionist conclusions as Irish nationalism back in the time of Constance Markievicz, then the next step can only be towards violence, and we must prepare ourselves for the same transformation that inspired the Irish nationalist poet, William Butler Yeats, to declare in his poem “Easter 1916”:

All changed, changed utterly: 
A terrible beauty is born.

This essay was originally posted on the website on Monday, 4 December 2023.


Anonymous said...

"You can’t have a liberal democracy if two babies born on the same day already are determined to have preexisting grievances against each other.”

Thomas Sowell

Lord Hannan speech (20 minutes)

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the SIS have tabs on things!!!
NZ's future not looking too flash really....already the crime wave by certain groups has killed the overseas sourced education groups, together with a large chunk of our tourism income.
The anarchist leanings of TPM have the potential to destroy the lot !

The Barron said...

I think you will find that Maori have survived by pragmatism while keeping the eyes on the prize. There will be limited theatre and enough concession to continue to challenge policy in the house and represent the electorates.

To give five minutes of peace for your Christmas -

Countess Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to the House of Commons for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Nancy Astor the first woman elected to the House of Commons for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Interestingly, in NZ in the last few weeks the return of writ to the Governor-General was the point electorate and list successful candidates were declared Members of Parliament. At this point they were paid as such and had the rights and privileges. The swearing in and the sitting on the horsehair cushions or woolsack (yeah, I know that has changed, but with Winston back ...) those elected are MPs. If one expired before the swearing in, they would still be counted amongst those that had been Parliamentary representatives.

I might have just disrupted that five minutes peace.

DS said...

It's posturing, of course. Same as Tony Benn or Dennis Skinner: a fundamental (and justified) objection to the oath, followed by enough to get them actually seated.

After all, how many MPs are sincere followers of the House of Windsor and the Anglican or Presbyterian God? Because that's what the oath really means, once one looks at its historical purpose.

Anonymous said...

The overwhelming impression is that the leaders of TPM have become drunk on their own rhetoric without any long term consideration of the consequences. The Left in general along with the media supporting them seem to have lost their minds with the advent of the coalition government.

The Barron said...

"...crime wave by certain groups..."
Anonymous racists are cowards of the worst kind. I hope this blog does not descend to dog whistles

Anonymous said...

For the terminally naive like some hosts at another blog site, this is what race party's are all about. It's all they're ever about. Their very being is obsessed with race and racism is a by product.

That TPM hate parliament and the people who supprt it is clear. They hate what it's about and they are so far down the grievance race superiority rabbit hole nothing will sate the beast. They don't want co-governance, they want the entire show.

It was always going to come to a head, the can either set up by well meaning politicians thinking that would satisfy them or it was kicked down the road for another day. Well team, that day has arrived!

new view said...

The protests seem to have a good following but noticeable the language used has changed. Genocide etc now referring to events over a hundred years ago where it belongs. Not sure how TePati Maori can say they have no allegiance to the Crown one day but will swear allegiance so they can sit in Parliament. Of course if they really don't want to swear allegiance to the Crown they can hardly question their interpretation of the Treaty as that would be meaningless. They seem confused but social media and TV media are making sure they are getting the coverage.

David George said...

Yes DS, it does appear to be posturing, Debbie has come out and said as much; that they will do what is required to get their seats in parliament. The obvious duplicity clearly not a problem for an outfit that promotes similarly morally indefensible positions such as ethnicity based legal and political rights and actual racial supremacism.

This outburst, this attack on the symbolic head of state is merely the latest assault on the principles that underlie our democracy. The talk that anonymous posted above is a powerful reminder of the value of those principles.

"every human being is individually accountable, that we are answerable for good or ill for our own actions and behavior and that we don't get a special pass because of who our grandfather was or because we're in a particular cast or tribe, right? That is what is at stake here, it's what's at stake in every other English speaking democracy and we have to cling to something that is highly fragile and contingent because if we slide back into that pre-enlightenment tribal way of thinking we know it will end extremely badly"

Tiger Mountain said...

Is that steam exiting under high pressure from our esteemed blog operators ears? These uppity Māori folks are at it again.

That is the thing with post colonial fall out, there is no easily defined finish line. Sinn Féin are wallies in my view for not taking up their seats, but TPM will likely not make that mistake. The Crown actually serves modern Māori to the extent that all sorts of official channels and structures are maintained. NActFirst have signalled a full frontal attack on Māoridom so TPM is responding.

Symbolism and protest are definitely needed as we face this new regressive Govt. And so is community organisation and practical support for each other among working class people as public services are removed or downgraded. So, TPM are leading from the front as far as I am concerned–where are you NZCTU and PSA?

Shane McDowall said...

Actually, TPM and their supporters already have a ready made Maori ethno-state: Northland.

Northland already has a large semi-feral Maori population. They will be enriched when the New Zealand government implements a 501 type scheme and starts deporting Maori gang members, released Maori prisoners, and anyone who believes in tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake.

We can call this new country 'Aotearoa'.

The ancestors of the Maori travelled thousands of kilometres to get here. They then picked random mountains, hills, rivers and lakes and made them sacred. So it should be a doodle to move to Aotearoa and pick new geographic features and make them sacred.

At last Maori will no longer be subject to genocidal colonisers. They can have Maori solutions to Maori problems.

Though how they can pay for everything without the tit of the Pakeha taxpayer to suck on remains to be seen.

Haere ra, Rawiri. Haere ra Debbie. Haere ra Willy. Haere ra Tuku. Haere ra Hone. Haere ra and good riddance to you all.

DS said...

Sinn Féin are wallies in my view for not taking up their seats, but TPM will likely not make that mistake.

It's not a matter of being wallies. Any Sinn Fein MP tempted to take up their seat, even with the sort of oath manipulation of Dennis Skinner, would be risking their lives. Literally. This is a matter that certain people in Northern Ireland take very, very seriously.

(Sinn Fein also get funding for electorate offices, so they are not quite out of the system).

David George said...

Shane: "a ready made Maori ethno-state: Northland."

Haha. It's true that parts of Northland were never fully colonised and that some parts (my home town of Kaikohe for example) have now been successfully de-colonised and re-indigenised. "Ethnically cleansed"?.

The sick thing is that there are those that really want that, a partition, a Maori ethno-state. Either a defined geographic entity or different laws within the whole. Not sure how interactions between races would be decided under that scenario but it's pretty obvious it would be an unmitigated shit-show.

Even the whole of Northland probably wouldn't satisfy Rawiri and Debbie. A Maori ethno state covering the entire North Island with the South island the Pakeha Promised land? Yes it sounds absurd but almost nothing would surprise me anymore.

greywarbler said...

I have recently spent some time with family, good citizens, hard working, done well and who are still thinking along lines of the 20th century, when we thought we had a reasonable country and some were working to make it better, arguing against institutional sexism, racism, classism and complacency.

When one looks clearly at how things were and are in NZ/AO and the world, I realise, one needs to summon up tremendous courage to face our deterioration at so many levels which have progressed exponentially since those not so halycon days. And to hear the same old cliches about society and its requirements to work in a balanced way, it is enough to make your heart falter and freeze. And my family represent those who have succeeded to make a good life in the nation. But where is the understanding of how humans react in a set of circumstances, how they coalesce to certain self-centred behaviours that focus like telescopes on a vision of interest and bypass the rest?

And to come here and read the erudite semi-academic thoughts of intelligent people who revert to the myths about the 'losers' in society which seem handed down to them as part of their heritage; part of their nurture, fed to them as children as birds pass on their morsels of semi-digested food to their fledglings.

There are few practical and moral activities for change discussed here that can save us from our decline which will be both material and physical and mental.
The sacrifice of millions of hours by thousands of people trying to plumb our minds and past histories have registered in our minds and records then 'filed' away. They would have us know how to recognise the triggers that alert the bad genies in our brains, and how to turn the switch to a setting that resiles from extremes and moves to a personal gestalt approach where we look at any issue from different perspectives; start from a POV of doubt and find advantage for overall good from some unprepossessing move.

We seem to be stuck in some mindset that dates to shortly after universal education was introduced. More practice at reflection and discussion and debate is needed, but sterile argument has taken their place and we haven't centuries stretching out before us to grope to the answer, to a better place.

Some links that everybody should have knowledge of, not just a priesthood of academics administering their favourite theory to us through government channels or private ones.

Dewey's educational philosophy
The Education Hub › deweys-educational-p...
18 Jan 2021 — He saw the purpose of education to be the cultivation of thoughtful, critically reflective,socially engaged individuals rather than ...

de Bono: Education systems are a disgrace to civilisation
Holst Workplace Culture › classic-de-bono-education-sys...
2 Mar 2016 — Judgement thinking has always been part of education – it is the other sorts of thinking which are so lacking. You have some odd shaped pieces...

David George said...

Yes Grey, perhaps we need to wake up and realise that political theory isn't really going to address what ails us at the individual, familial, communal and national levels.

Speaking of education I have a lot of respect for Kiwi Indian teacher Katharine Birbalsingh and the remarkable success of the students at her inner city London school. Here is her speech to the recent ARC (Alliance for Responsible Citizens) conference.


A touch of Irony ... Methinks Chris?

Your rules of engagment on your excellent Bowalley site say: "I reserve the right to simply disable the Comments function, and will keep it that way until the perpetrators find somewhere more appropriate to vent their collective spleen".

Your latest blog gives considerable space and profile to the vituperative and incendiary comments of the TPM.

The less airtime and exposure that these deliberately provocative threats are given, the better. I suggest that you do not provide TPM with a platform and heavily edit (**** or "Ed deleted") ... their disgraceful divisive and inflammatory investive.

greywarbler said...

I'll read that - listen soon David G. Thanks.
A case of what we need as WHAuden put it -
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
SHOW an affirming flame.

greywarbler said...

Larry M Mitchell
The middle M is similar to the practice of USA people. You would not be that and criticising Maori would you? As they are the people that were here first it behoves us later comers to take care that we don't seem to put ourselves forward in a pushy way as happened in Hawaii.

Warren Pyke said...

The Waitangi Tribunal claim lodged by Ngāi Te Rangi (see Waikato Times 13 December at p 10) assumes as does Te Pati Maori that Maori stand outside the democratic processes of government in a special category, not just cogovernance under the Crown but with separate sovereign powers.

What underlies this is a struggle for power and control over resources. Otherwise why bother?

I stood at Ratana Pa with Matiu Rata in the mid 1990s when this struggle played out in the election of the Tumuaki, when an elite wanted control of Ratana trusts for the same reason. I commented to Rata that it was insidious, undermining the values for which TW Ratana stood. He agreed. That is what we are seeing here, not fighting for a better country but seeking to divide out of self interest. Young people are easily misled by leaders dressing up their greed for power by the preaching of insincerely held and unachievable utopian visions, which also appeal to naive progressives who can’t cope with the truth that everyone is equal and it is the future that matters.
We fail to judge the activists by their deeds and character at our peril.

That Te Pati Maori MPs took the oath demonstrates my point. The upside is, as occurred at Ratana with most of the morehu, most Maori see through their agenda.