Following is the speech that Don Brash referred to in the previous speech posted. I have posted them because finally someone in politics in New Zealand has the guts to stand up and say what we have all been thinking over the last decade but couldn’t without being accused as a racist or fascist.
NZ needs to cut the bullshit and get real if it is to stay relevant and
not become a banana republic. Maybe then I can return.
Orewa Speech – Nationhood
26 March 2004 – 16:05 – Dr Don Brash
….. the topic I will focus on today, is the
dangerous drift towards racial separatism in New Zealand, and the
development of the now entrenched Treaty grievance industry. We are one country with many peoples, not simply a society of Pakeha and Maori where the minority has a birthright to the upper hand, as the Labour Government seems to believe.
Over the next few months, I plan to give a major speech on each of my five main priorities, but today I want to speak about the threat which “the Treaty process” poses to the future of our country. I am focussing on this topic because, just before Christmas, after Parliament had risen for the year, the Government announced its
foreshore and seabed policy, a policy with potentially huge significance for the future of our country.
So let me begin by asking, what sort of nation do we want to build?
Is it to be a modern democratic society, embodying the essential notion of one rule for all in a single nation state?
Or is it the racially divided nation, with two sets of laws, and two
standards of citizenship, that the present Labour Government is moving us steadily towards?
But the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi was expressed simply by then Lt- Gov Hobson in February 1840. In his halting Maori, he said to each chief as he signed: He iwi tahi tatou. We are one people.
A number of issues flow from this. They are complex, highly sensitive, even emotionally charged.
But I believe in plain speaking. So let me be blunt.
Over the last 20 years, the Treaty has been wrenched out of its 1840s context and become the plaything of those who would divide New Zealanders from one another, not unite us.
In parallel with the Treaty process and the associated grievance industry, there has been a divisive trend to embody racial distinctions into large parts of our legislation, extending recently to local body politics. In both education and healthcare, government funding is now influenced not just by need – as it should be – but
also by the ethnicity of the recipient.
The Nelson-Tasman Primary Health Organisation is a good example: PHOs are explicitly established on a racial basis, and the Nelson-Tasman PHO is required to have half of the community representatives on its board representing local iwi, even though the number of people actually belonging to those local iwi is a tiny fraction of the population covered by that PHO.
Much of the non-Maori tolerance for the Treaty settlement process – where people who weren’t around in the 19th century pay compensation to the part-descendants of those who were – is based on a perception of relative Maori poverty. But in fact Maori income
distribution is not very different from Pakeha income distribution, as sociologist Simon Chapple pointed out a couple of years ago in a much publicised piece of research.1
Maori-ness explains very little about how well one does in life. Ethnicity does not determine one’s destiny.
It is the bottom 25% of Maori, most of them on welfare, who are conspicuously poor. They are no different to Pacific Islanders or other non-Maori on welfare; it’s just that there is a higher percentage of them in that category.
The myths of our past
Let me now counter some of the myths of our past. Too many of us look back through utopian glasses, imagining the Polynesian past as a genteel world of “wise ecologists, mystical sages, gifted artists,
heroic navigators and pacifists who wouldn’t hurt a fly”.2
It was nothing like that. Life was hard, brutal and short.
James Belich shows us that, once guns fell into Maori hands in the early years of the 19th century, ancient tribal rivalries saw Maori kill more of their own than the number of all New Zealanders lost in World War I. Probably 20,000 Maori were killed by Maori in the 1820s and 1830s.3
Equally, however, the initial Maori contact with Europeans was hardly a contact with the cream of European civilisation. The first Europeans that Maori encountered were explorers, whalers, escaped convicts from Australia, and then settlers hungry for land to build a new life. Many were none-too concerned about the niceties of the Treaty. And none possessed any appreciation of the interpretations of its meaning that some are trying to breathe into the document today.
Any dispassionate look at our history shows that self-interest and greed featured large on both sides. Pakeha tried hard to separate Maori from their lands, and usually succeeded, although at various points the Crown endeavoured to ensure that proper procedures, consistent with the Article 2 guarantee to Maori that they were able to sell freely and fairly, were upheld.
Yet in spite of these problems, and in spite of all the turmoil, the shocks from the collision of two cultures and the chaos of unprecedented social change, the documentary evidence clearly shows that Maori society was immensely adaptable, and very open to new ways. That adaptability and resourcefulness, that openness to opportunity, that entrepreneurial spirit, is something that survived the trauma of colonisation, and is today reflected in a Maori renaissance across a wide range of business, cultural and sporting activity.
We should celebrate the fact that, despite a war between the races in the 1860s and the speed with which Maori were separated from much of their land – partly through settler greed, partly through a couple of generations of deficient leadership by some Maori – our
Treaty is probably the only example in the world of any such treaty
surviving rifle shots. Those who said a hundred years later that New
Zealand possessed good race relations by world standards weren’t wrong.
While we try to fix the wrongs of the past, we should celebrate the
good things and shared experiences that underpin our nationhood.
All Maori got the right to vote, and had it long before 1900. By the 1930s, they possessed equal rights of access to state assistance, be it
pensions or subsidised housing loans or access to education. One
standard of citizenship was gradually working, and the gaps that
existed in every other colonial country were closing here as Maori took advantage of full employment.
Although he listed a number of land grievances in his centennial speech at Waitangi on 6 February 1940, Sir Apirana Ngata told those present that in the whole world it was unlikely that any “native” race had been as well treated by settlers as Maori.
Let me be quite clear. Many things happened to the Maori people that should not have happened. There were injustices, and the Treaty process is an attempt to acknowledge that, and to make a gesture at recompense. But it is only that. It can be no more than that.
None of us was around at the time of the New Zealand wars. None of us had anything to do with the confiscations. There is a limit to how much any generation can apologise for the sins of its great grandparents.
There are a few radicals who claim that sovereignty never properly passed from Maori into the hands of the Crown, and thus ultimately into the hands of all New Zealanders, Maori and non-Maori. They are living in a fantasy world. These claims come from the more radical Maori end of the spectrum. They can be seen for what they really are: a negotiating position.
What worries me about the current Treaty debate is that we find ourselves now, at the beginning of the 21st century, still locked into 19th century arguments.
Too many Maori leaders are looking backwards rather than towards the future. Too many have been encouraged by successive governments to adopt grievance mode.
The Treaty process
I want, now, to briefly review the more recent history of the Treaty process.
We have moved from a badly drafted and ambiguous Treaty document of 18404, through a long period of colonisation to an attempt to live by the simple principles that seem to underlie that document.
In 1975, the Waitangi Tribunal was established to hear Maori grievances about contemporary problems. The powers of the Tribunal were greatly extended in 1985. In a fateful decision, it was given authority to cover claims going back as far as the 1840 Treaty itself – this despite the fact that “full and final” settlements had been made with Tainui, Ngai Tahu and others, decades before.
A poorly drafted Act in 1985, coupled with inadequate attention to its implementation, allowed a major grievance industry to blossom.
Only a year later, in the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986, the Government, not foreseeing the consequences of its decisions, made a last minute amendment to the Act. It read into the bill under urgency, without any reference back to a Select Committee, a revised section 9, which stated that “Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”.
Whether intended or not, Parliament had created a new concept – the “principles of the Treaty”. But these principles were never defined – nobody had a clue what they might be. In the end, it was left to unelected Court of Appeal judges to determine an interpretation of the Treaty’s meaning that the politicians most
certainly never intended.
Thus an accident of litigation, which related to a specific provision in a piece of economic legislation, and the Court’s attempt to make that
legislation work without adequate guidance from Parliament, ended up by providing a basis for building an entire constitutional relationship between Crown and Maori.
Since 1987, and especially since 1999 when the current Labour Government took office, governments have included references to the “principles of the Treaty” in legislation, still without defining them. Even the Cabinet Manual now states that Ministers must specify whether proposed bills comply with “the principles of the
Treaty”. It doesn’t define those principles either.
In 1988, there was another development of great significance. The
Government’s decision to sell off some of the state forests resulted in a judicial ruling that the Crown could not do so until ownership of the land beneath the trees had been determined by the Waitangi Tribunal process. To speed up what was becoming a much more drawn out process than had been envisaged in 1985, ministers came up with the idea of a Crown Forest Rental Trust that would receive the cutting fees as the forests were managed, and use the money to speed the hearing process about the land under the trees.
Far from speeding the process, it quickly slowed down. As one commentator has observed:
“A growing number of bees – some busy, others drones – swarmed around this new, lucrative [Crown Forest Rental Trust] honey pot.”5
The troubles surrounding this particular honey pot continue to this day, and only very belatedly, and after a lot of very adverse publicity, is the current Government moving to clean up the Crown Forest Rental Trust process.
The biggest problem we face with the Treaty process is a lack of
leadership. For 20 years now, mischievous minds have been interpreting the document in ways that they envisage will suit their financial purposes. We need proper leadership on the issue, and the next National Government will provide it. One principle above all others guides my thinking:
The Treaty of Waitangi should not be used as the basis for giving greater civil, political or democratic rights to any particular ethnic group.
The direction in which the current Government is heading is fundamentally different and it is wrong. For the sake of our future, it must be changed.
Treaty references in legislation
As I’ve noted, there is now a wide range of legislation making
reference to the “principles of the Treaty” without any definition of what that means – including the Environment Act 1986, the Conservation Act 1987, the Education Act 1989, the Resource Management Act 1991, the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992,
the Arts Council of NZ Toi Aotearoa Act 1994, and the Hazardous
Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.
The only conclusion we can reach is that successive governments have believed that this 19th century treaty has something to say about today’s SOEs and national parks, today’s schools and universities, how we go about approving or declining building
permits, what science we should study, what art we should look at, and even how we should regard the new frontier of genetic science!
Well, it doesn’t.
Local government now also has statutory obligations with respect to the undefined principles of the Treaty. The anachronism of the Parliamentary Maori seats (created as a temporary device in 1867 when tribally-organised, rurally-based Maori still formed the bulk of the Maori population) is now being extended by Labour to include local government. Some local authorities are introducing Maori wards without regard to whether the guiding democratic principle of “one person, one vote, one value” is violated.
The Local Government Act also requires local authorities to set up special consultation with Maori, over and above the extensive consultation already required with local communities, as if somehow Maori are not part of local communities. As a result, iwi are developing a central role with respect to local government. They possess the power to veto many development projects, projects which could provide us all with jobs.
Where does this all stop? And what group is driving this process?
As one commentator observed recently, a number of non-Maori radicals, having climbed high into our social hierarchy, wield considerable political, economic and judicial influence, and now “constitute a powerful fifth column in the Maori cause.”6
It is bizarre that, in a society where the Prime Minister refuses to allow grace to be said at a state banquet, because, she says, we are an increasingly secular society, we fly Maori elders around the world to lift tapu and expel evil spirits from New Zealand embassies; we allow courts to become entangled in hearings about the risks to taniwha of a new road or building; we refuse to undertake potentially life-saving earthworks on Mount Ruapehu lest we interfere with the spirit of the mountain; and we allow our environment law to be turned into an opportunistic farce by allowing metaphysical and spiritual considerations to be taken into account in the decision process. It is a farce that could all too quickly turn to tragedy.
Spiritual beliefs are important in any society. They should be respected. They should never be mocked. But personal spiritual beliefs should not be allowed to drive our development as a modern society.
I am sure most Maori are as embarrassed by the present situation as most non-Maori are astounded. We are becoming a society that allows people to invent or rediscover beliefs for pecuniary gain. This process is becoming deeply corrupt, with some requirements for consultation resulting in substantial payments in a system that looks like nothing other than stand-over tactics.
These are crucial issues for the future of our nation. Unless they are dealt with properly, they will ultimately undermine the very essence of what it means to be a New Zealander.
– who writes in the Dominion-Post in Wellington, and The
Independent nationally – is not known for his sympathy for
the National Party. He writes unashamedly from the political left, but what he writes is intellectually honest and always arresting. He
“Shall New Zealand go forward into a new century as a modern, democratic and prosperous nation; or shall it become a culturally divided, economically stagnant and aristocratically misgoverned Pacific backwater, like the Kingdom of Tonga or the Republic of Fiji?”7
He asked that question presumably because he thinks, as I do, that under the present Government, the answer is the latter. We’re going
The foreshore proposals
Now to a current problem that gets to the heart of today’s mismanagement of Treaty relations. Just after the closing of Parliament last year, when MPs couldn’t debate the issue, the Government released its proposals for dealing with the foreshore and seabed following a legal decision that overturned 125 years of settled law. The simple option was to legislate to establish the Crown ownership that almost everyone believed already existed.
Instead, the Government has come up with a convoluted notion called “public domain”. On the face of it, it sounds good. But it leaves room for much more than just limited recognition of “customary rights”, and in fact embodies vast powers, including the right to a Maori veto.
First, Government documents make it clear that the proposed
“customary title” will allow the development of commercial activity arising from customary use. This “development right” will mean an expansion of traditional customary rights.
Secondly, along with commercial development, customary title also gives Maori a veto power over anyone else’s development, whether commercial or recreational. As I read the papers released by the Government, anyone wanting to build a small jetty on a coastal property where customary title has been established will need iwi consent. And what we know from experience is that this is likely to require a substantial payment to smooth the path for consent.
Thirdly, Maori also gain a new role in the management of the entire coastline. Customary title will give commercial development rights, which over time will inevitably erode public access. In addition, 16 newly-created bureaucracies will give Maori a more dominant role than other New Zealanders in the use and development of the coastline, not only where customary title is granted, but elsewhere as well. All these committees will be taxpayer-funded. Maori will gain access to even more taxpayers’ funds for consultants, lawyers and hui to “build capacity” to take part in this process.
It is not hard to envisage what is going to happen.
The additional costs in any development process will make a small number of people much better off, but will make all other New Zealanders, including most Maori, worse off, by slowing, and in many cases blocking entirely, the potential for development of our resources, especially aquaculture.
There are massive conflicts of interest in all of this, and they will inevitably invite corruption. Under the proposals, Maori can now be owners, managers and regulators, all at the same time, thereby ensuring their own developments can succeed. They can block others if they can show to sympathetic authorities that their customary right is adversely affected. It is astonishing that the Government could establish such a conflict-ridden
model. It is an absolute recipe for disaster.
A multi-cultural melting pot
Let me turn briefly to what we mean by “Maori”.
The short cut of referring to Maori as one group and Pakeha as another is enormously misleading8.
There is no homogenous, distinct Maori population
– we have been a melting pot since the 19th century
– although there is, of course, a highly distinctive Maori culture, which many people see as central to their identity.
Our definition of ethnicity is now a matter of subjective self-definition: if you are part Maori and want to identify as Maori you can do so.
The Maori ethnic group is a very loose one. There has always been
considerable intermarriage between Maori and Pakeha. Anthropologists tell us that by 1900 there were no full-blooded Maori left in the South Island. By 2000, the same was true of the North Island. Today, nearly 70% of 24 to 34 year old New Zealanders who identify as Maori are married to someone who does not.
And most of the rest are themselves of multi-ethnic identity, itself a consequence of two centuries of intermarriage. As a consequence, a majority of Maori children grow up today with a non-Maori parent.
Many people feel it is somehow impolite to mention these facts. But by ignoring them we create an oppositional picture of race relations in this country, and we overlook the many powerful forces that can promote social cohesion.
What we are seeing is the emergence of a population in New Zealand of multi-ethnic heritage – a distinct South Seas race of New Zealanders – where more and more of us will have a diverse ancestry. Hopefully, we will get joy and pride from all the different elements that go to make us who we are.
My own family is racially mixed. My 10 year old gains both from his New Zealand-European and from his Singaporean-Chinese heritage.
There is plenty of evidence that most New Zealanders are happy to see New Zealand develop in this way. In spite of the heightened rhetoric from the publicists of ethnic difference, most people treat their ethnic allegiances fluidly. For many people, aspects other than their ethnicity matter much more to them – their religion, their
profession, their sports club, their gender, and their political
What do I conclude from all this?
First, we need to look at our past honestly, not through a lens which projects current values onto 19th century New Zealand, and not by stripping away the context of the past.
The Treaty contains just three short clauses, and deals with the government of New Zealand, property rights, and citizenship. Those principles must be upheld. Where there has been a clear breach of the Treaty – where land has been stolen, for example – then it is right that attempts to make amends should be made.
But the Treaty is not some magical, mystical, document. Lurking behind its words is not a blueprint for building a modern, prosperous, New Zealand. The Treaty did not create a partnership: fundamentally, it was the launching pad for the creation of one sovereign nation.
We should not use the Treaty as a basis for creating greater civil,
political or democratic rights for Maori than for any other New
Zealander. In the 21st century, it is unconscionable for us to be
taking that separatist path, and this Labour Government deserves to be defeated on that basis alone.
The National Party has an honourable record of resolving historical Treaty grievances. Virtually all of the major financial settlements achieved to date occurred under National in the 1990s. They included settlements for the Fisheries ($150 million), Tainui ($170 million) and Ngai Tahu ($170 million). The leadership shown by Prime Minister Jim Bolger and Treaty Negotiations Minister Sir Douglas Graham was crucial in establishing a national consensus on the need to resolve historical grievances as part of the process of reconciliation.
The settlement process has slowed considerably since Labour took office, with claims resolution bogged down due to lack of leadership and commitment.
Let me make it quite clear. National is absolutely committed to completing the settlement of historical grievances. We will ensure that the process is accelerated and brought to a conclusion. It must then be wound up. It is essential to put this behind us if all of us
– and Maori in particular – are to stop looking backward and start moving forward into this new century as a modern, democratic and prosperous nation.
We intend to remove divisive race-based features from legislation. The “principles of the Treaty” – never clearly defined yet ever expanding – are the thin end of a wedge leading to a racially divided state and we want no part of that. There can be no basis for special privileges for any race, no basis for government funding based on race, no basis for introducing Maori wards in local authority elections, and no obligation for local governments to consult Maori in preference to other New Zealanders.
We will remove the anachronism of the Maori seats in Parliament.
We will deal with the foreshore issue by legislating to return to the
previous status quo – the settled legal situation before the Court of Appeal decision. That is a position where for the most part the Crown owned the foreshore. In so far as there was uncertainty about
the situation before, we will clarify the position. Public ownership
leaves room for recognising limited customary rights, but we will not
allow customary title. If this Government issues such title, we will
Having done all that, we really will be one people – as Hobson declared us to be in 1840.
I acknowledge that there are problems of Maori socio-economic disparity in some places, mostly rural. We will focus our welfare reform efforts on those areas. We will not have entire townships, and some suburbs, on the dole.
Welfare recipients will be offered retraining, and offered some activity by which they can earn, and be seen to earn, their welfare cheque. Their children will see their parents constructively engaged in the community each day, not marginalised by it. That, more than anything, will restore their dignity.
But these are not Treaty issues: they are social welfare issues, and Maori New Zealanders who are in need are as entitled to assistance as any other New Zealanders who are in need.
Similarly, a National Government will continue to fund Te Kohanga Reo, Kaupapa Maori, Wananga and Maori primary health providers – not because we have been conned into believing that that is somehow a special right enjoyed by Maori under the Treaty, but rather because National believes that all New Zealanders have a right to choice in education and health.
Finally, we ask Maori to take some responsibility themselves for what is happening in their own communities. Citizenship brings obligations as well as rights. The Maori translation of Article 3 was very clear about that. We all have an obligation to make the effort to build a culture of aspiration – as the great Maori leaders of the past, and indeed some of the Maori leaders of the present, have advocated – not a culture of grievance.
Like everybody else, Maori must build their own future with their own hands.
Most are doing that already, and it is crucially important that government policy encourages this, not discourages it.
The spirit evident in the Maori response to the new opportunities that emerged in the mid-19th century is alive and well today. It is
displayed in the outstanding performance of Maori in fishing and other primary sectors, and in a range of entrepreneurial business, sporting and cultural activities.
Their efforts, their aspirations, and their focus are light-years away from the handout mentality being fostered by this Government.
A culture of dependence and grievance can only be hugely destructive of the Maori people and, if left unchecked, destructive of our ability to build a prosperous nation of one people, living under one set of laws.
Let me make one final concluding comment.
In many ways, I am deeply saddened to have to make a speech about issues of race. In this country, it should not matter what colour you are, or what your ethnic origin might be. It should not matter whether you have migrated to this country and only recently become a citizen, or whether your ancestors arrived two, five, 10 or 20 generations ago.
The indigenous culture of New Zealand will always have a special place in our emerging culture, and will be cherished for that reason.
But we must build a modern, prosperous, democratic nation based on one rule for all. We cannot allow the loose threads of 19th century law and custom to unravel our attempts at nation-building in the 21st century.
1 Simon Chapple, “Maori Socio-economic Disparity”, Political Science, Vol 52, No 2, December 2000.
2 Roger Sandall, The Culture Cult, p 114.
3 James Belich, Making Peoples, 1996, p 157.
4 See Belich, ibid., p 195; and R M Ross, “Te Tiriti o Waitangi:
Texts and Translations”, NZJH, Vol 6, No 2, October 1972.
5 Michael Bassett, “Halt the Treaty Gravy Train”, Dominion, 6 February 2002.
6 Chris Trotter, Dominion-Post, 12 December 2003.
7 Chris Trotter, op. cit.
8 This section relies heavily on material from Simon Chapple, op. cit.
Full Text: NationalParty of New Zealand
Don Brash Responds To His Critics – Speech
DON BRASH RESPONDS TO HIS CRITICS
An address to the Northern Club, Auckland,
4 March 2004
It is now over five weeks since my Orewa speech.
That speech struck a chord with the public; it touched a sensitive nerve with many commentators who have reacted with knee-jerk hostility; and it certainly exposed the achilles heel of the Government.
They have a few others, which we will expose later in the year.
The Government should have seen it coming. Plenty of commentators had warned them that they were dangerously out of touch with the wishes of the electorate.
In the Orewa speech, I argued that the Treaty process is out of control, that race-based political correctness is infecting the institutions of our society, and that we are headed towards a racially divided nation, with two sets of laws and two standards of citizenship. The Treaty is not remotely a blueprint for building a modern, prosperous, New Zealand.
The Treaty did not create a partnership: fundamentally, it was the launching pad for the creation of one sovereign nation.
I concluded that there can be no basis for government funding based on race, no basis for separate Maori electorates, no basis for introducing Maori wards in local authority elections, and no obligation for local government to consult Maori in preference to other New Zealanders.
I have stood back for the past five weeks and let the critics have their say, letting them give it their best shot.
And what ineffectual shots they were.
But I believe my critics deserve a direct response.
After the Orewa speech there were two quite distinct responses: the first was the scrambling sound of editorial writers and commentators climbing on to their high horses; the other was an overwhelmingly positive response from the general public, relieved that at last this issue was being put back on the table for debate.
The attacks on the speech, and directly on myself, can be grouped into several categories.
I have been accused of being racist, divisive and ignorant. This is the line of attack that came initially from Government ministers and was obediently followed by some commentators. The common feature was a complete unwillingness to discuss the principles at stake with even a modicum of seriousness.
As it became clear to the Government that they were by implication also accusing most of the public of the same qualities, their various ministers shifted tack. Having spent a couple of weeks ridiculing the views of most New Zealanders, they eventually realised the political difficulties associated with that approach and attempted instead to publicise the fact that previous National Governments had introduced some of the legislation that I was pledging to change.
This was no great revelation, as I was quite open about the fact that both National and Labour Governments have contributed to the mess that has developed. Most of this was done with the best of intentions, but as we know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Sometimes it is the putting right that counts.
The behaviour of the other parties in the House has been an amusing study in political repositioning: United Future seems to have been attempting to climb out of the Foreshore and Seabed waka they had only recently boarded; NZ First has been trying to paddle on both sides of the waka, but in the House it seems to have a liaison of convenience with Labour; the Green Party, at least, has stuck to its guns, and seems prepared to go down fighting on the whole bi-cultural, partnership package, and we can respect them for having the courage of their convictions; while the ACT Party has been consistent in its support of the views I expressed at Orewa.
A number of newspapers spectacularly misjudged their audience. A major Sunday newspaper, in comparing me to Australia’s Pauline Hanson, launched one of the most extraordinary exercises in second-rate muckraking journalism that I have ever witnessed. Presumably this idea was not conceived in the circulation department, because the polls showing wide public support for the Orewa speech implied that the headline was also an attack on most of the readership of the paper. The subsequent editorial attempts to defend this new low in the standards of New Zealand journalism were so lame as to be laughable. One can have only contempt for the mind that conceived that front page spread, and sympathy for those journalists that were unwittingly associated with it.
Others claimed that I was trashing the Treaty, consigning it to the rubbish bin of history, and denying that it was a founding document of this nation. But the Treaty is concerned solely with sovereignty, property rights and citizenship, and I stated clearly that those principles must be upheld. I said that where there was a clear breach of the Treaty, then these should be set right. National will accelerate and then conclude the process of Treaty settlements. Moreover, while it is simply a fact that the Treaty is a founding document, it is obviously not an adequate constitutional basis for a modern state.
Some asked whether or not I believed in a “living Treaty”, notably without explaining what they meant by that much abused expression. In upholding the concepts of citizenship and property rights embodied in the Treaty, I clearly did consider it to be alive. But I suspect that what people who use this expression really want is not a ‘living’ Treaty, but an ‘evolving’ one – one that evolves by virtue of the decisions of an unelected judiciary. That is simply unacceptable.
Another group argued that it was an outrage to suggest that Maori had no special status, were not unique, and so forth – not that I had said any such thing. Once again, it all depends on what people mean by these terms. It is a simple statement of fact that Maori are the indigenous people of these islands. But in the 21st century it is nonsense to suggest that because Maori are the indigenous people, it somehow justifies race-based distinctions being built into our institutions and Acts of Parliament.
Let’s be quite clear about this. Many aspects of Maori culture are important to all New Zealanders. But the part that Maori culture plays in the future as our society evolves will not be the result of social engineering – I think it is clear now that most New Zealanders are fed up with having bi-culturalism rammed down their throats and drilled into their children. Maori culture will flourish if people – both Maori and non-Maori – value it. Government can help at the margin with preservation but in the end these things have to stand on their own feet.
Some critics – focusing all their attention on two sentences in a 5,000 word speech – have attempted to demonstrate that cases of ethnic favouritism in education and health are relatively trivial. The Government’s initial response was to deny there was any such thing. But then, confronted with the unarguable fact of a race-based factor in PHO funding and in the decile funding structure in education, the Government retreated to arguing that in most cases the effect was relatively trivial and would make little difference to the allocation of funding. If that is so, we have to wonder why those divisive features were included in the first place. National will remove them.
Several weeks after launching the initial attack on the Orewa speech, it seems that the Government has now decided to join National and remove these features. ‘Needs not race’ is the Prime Minister’s new mantra. Or at least it was the party line last week. Who knows what the future might bring.
Are these a series of considered U-turns, or is it just panic? It is hard to know for sure.
What those Labour ministers are not doing is courageously sticking to the principles they affirmed so vigorously only a month ago. I think it was Will Rogers who said: “Politics is a great character builder. You have to take a poll to see what your character is each day.”
The critics who have focused obsessively on these ‘race-based funding’ details give the overwhelming impression of a group of people who cannot see the wood for the trees. Fortunately that does not apply to the general public, because the plain fact of the matter is that the public is more concerned with the parade of race-based political correctness we have endured over the past decade or more:
· cultural safety in nursing
· bilingual rebranding of the public sector
· Treaty issues getting tangled up in health and safety audits
· claims of taniwhas being used to block developments
· consultations with iwi being required in relation to resource management consents, and even to scientific research in universities
· the anomaly of Maori Parliamentary seats being expanded into local body politics and now to the representation on PHOs
· and so on in a relentless torrent.
Can we really believe that this simple 19th century treaty, which focused on sovereignty, property rights and citizenship, also has something to say about today’s SOEs and national parks, today’s schools and universities, how we go about approving or declining building permits, what science we should study, or how we should regard the new frontier of genetic science?
This is simply madness, and it must be stopped.
What the public is concerned with is the way in which racial distinctions are penetrating the institutions and practices that make our society what it is. Everybody knows this is happening. People are fed up with this Government telling them how to think.
Behind much of this is the notion of Treaty ‘partnership’. The Treaty was an agreement between the British Crown and Maori Chiefs. We cannot configure 21st century New Zealand in terms of 19th century institutions. The concept of partnership arose out of the failure to define the term ‘the principles of the Treaty’ – an expression which is now scattered like confetti throughout our legislation.
‘Partnership’ was a judicial creation to deal with a legislative oversight.
Yet my most recent critics have fallen for the concept, hook, line and sinker. Anglican and Catholic Bishops have come out with a declaration which describes the Treaty as a Covenant, a living document. The Anglican General Synod celebrate the fact that they rewrote their constitution in terms of a Treaty partnership. The Bishops’ statement asserts that the Treaty creates a partnership and defines constitutional relationships. To the Bishops, self determination is the issue.
The Bishops may wish to buy into the whole bi-lingual, bi-partisan, partnership framework. That is fine. Their organisations are voluntary ones. But there is no justification for forcing these concepts on the people of New Zealand, or for driving them deep into the heart of the institutions of our country.
Our attempt to deal with late 20th and now early 21st century issues via the tribal organisational structures of the 19th century was always going to be problematic, but for major Treaty settlements there was no easy alternative.
Most ordinary working Maori have seen no benefit from the settlement process, and regard it as hijacked by lawyers and a small elite group within the Maori world. More than 80% of Maori now live in urban areas, they are substantially intermarried with European and other ethnic groups, and many have little tribal affiliation or identification.
It is surely now clear that the Government should be wary of focusing its approach to Maori through a static concept of tribal organisations. But in fact that is the trend, because the Government is embedding throughout the institutions of central and local government a wide range of consultation requirements on, and veto rights to, tribal organisations. Most Maori will get no benefit from this, and our society as a whole will be harmed by the approach.
The foreshore and seabed proposals are merely the latest manifestation of this trend. For more than a century it was the common understanding that for the most part the Crown owned the foreshore and seabed. Within that understanding, limited recognition of customary rights was possible. There is no need to submit the country to a new and untested experiment with something called “customary title”, a concept that, like a computer virus, is likely to spring to life and cause great harm in the future.
So where do we go from here?
This is a debate that I am taking around the country, starting with the current tour of provincial centres. I have already commissioned work on the complex process of disentangling race-based legislation from key Acts of Parliament, starting with the Resource Management Act.
I recognise that there is a small part of the Maori world which faces real problems: there is entrenched welfare dependency, educational failure, and over-representation in our crime statistics and thus prisons.
Some have listed those facts as if they were not widely known, and as if they were in some way a case against what I have said. But in fact those observations should tell us one thing: current policies don’t work.
We cannot continue down this blind alley of racial division and failure.
Before the next election, National will be announcing a bold plan of action to deal with the entrenched problems of underprivilege in our society, regardless of race.
But I want to challenge the Maori people, and in particular to challenge the moderate Maori leadership. There seems to be a vacuum at the top, and that gap is being filled by the strident, by the radicals, and by self-appointed spokespeople for Maori who in reality have no mandate to speak on behalf of anybody, let alone the Maori people.
It is time a new Maori leadership stood up to be counted. There is a job to be done here, and that job will start when this Government is gone.
You should start to be part of the solution.
What is the challenge? Simply this. Answer these questions:
· Should universities have to check with iwi before doing routine research?
· Should medical research have to be checked against the Treaty?
· Should the Auckland College of Education graduating ceremony divide up the graduates into Maori, Polynesian and Tauiwi groups?
· Should we pay for Maori elders to perform hikitapu ceremonies at NZ posts overseas?
· Should we pay for three kaumatua to accompany frogs from the Waikato to Christchurch so the frogs can be given a powhiri when they arrive?
· Should we allow the supposed home of a Taniwha to hold up a roading project?
· Should we allow the supposed nearby home of a taniwha to halt the construction of a new prison?
· Should we require councils to consult iwi on every development in their district?
· Should Maori organisations enjoy a lower tax rate? Should Maori organisations receive special rates write-offs?
Frankly, when we get to the point where Maori leaders step forward and acknowledge these sorts of thing as the destructive travesties they are, this country will be well on the road back to a robust sense of nationhood.
Our once vigorous and combative culture has been hijacked by a phoney sense of ‘offend-no-one’ biculturalism.
The reality is that, as a community, we are an assertive multi-ethnic, multicultural society. Based entirely on our own choices and preferences, we have taken the values and spirit of our forebears – both Maori, and the European settlers that came later – and added to them a range of ideas and symbols, sporting and cultural enthusiasms, even our preferences for food and wine, from all over the world.
In recent decades that mix has been spiced up with migrant groups from Asia and elsewhere, and out of all of this we have forged a unique national identity.
We are not all the same. We all have different preferences and interests and sympathies. But we are still all unquestionably, and proudly, New Zealanders.
And there must be one law for all of us.