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Dr Muriel Newman

A Declaration of Equality

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On Friday the Waitangi Tribunal is expected to report back on the Maori Council’s claim for the ownership of New Zealand’s fresh water. This deadline was requested by the government to prevent a delay in their asset sales programme and a potential loss of value for New Zealand taxpayers.

The co-chairman of the Maori Council, Sir Eddie Durie, was interviewed by TVNZ on their Q+A programme on Sunday in an attempt to better understand the reasoning behind their water claim.1 He explained that “Maori law” is different from “pakeha law” and that under the “Maori legal system”, Maori had customary rights to water that should continue indefinitely. Where Maori still live near water, he argued, they should receive a royalty on all water taken by other groups; if they have moved away they should be eligible to draw from a compensation fund. He implied that compensation should be available for water used without payment over the last 150 years.

In the interview he explained, “property rights are to be determined according to the customs and traditions of Maori. That’s a long established principle in New Zealand and internationally, and we’re saying that that right which was established in that way, through customary use, should continue to be recognised to the extent that it is still feasible to do so.”

Essentially, he is saying ‘Maori law’, not the New Zealand legal system, should be used to determine the future of Maori interests in New Zealand.

Sir Eddie, a former High Court Judge and Law Commissioner, spent more than 20 years as Chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal. With such radical views, it is therefore little wonder that the decisions produced by the Tribunal over the years have been so outrageously biased towards tribal claimants. To expect the Tribunal to deliver anything but a biased decision is simply fanciful. The Government is right to ignore the decisions of the Tribunal, but it should go further and abolish the Tribunal entirely. That would certainly be a more honest response than pretending it is anything but a vehicle and gravy train for radical iwi.

It is also no wonder that National’s foreshore and seabed legislation removed public ownership, with the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson appointing Sir Eddie Durie to chair the Ministerial Taskforce on the law change!

Ever since former Prime Minister Helen Clark changed the law to close off historic Treaty claims to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2008, the tribal elite have been inventing new ways to perpetuate the Treaty claims industry. John Key strengthened their cause when he signed New Zealand up to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as part of a back-room coalition deal with the Maori Party.

Article 25 of that Declaration states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.”

Article 32 then suggests that governments have a duty to undertake special consultation with such groups “prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”  It then goes on to assert that “effective mechanisms for just and fair redress” must be provided.2

It is utterly contemptible that John Key and his National Government could sell their principles to appease the separatist Maori Party.

The bigger issue here however, is that New Zealanders are being treated like fools by the iwi elite. For decades foolish politicians have pranced and danced to their tune, willingly donating endless taxpayer resources into the coffers of these private corporations – and allowing radicals to exert influence from within their own ranks.

We can now clearly see the result of that track record of appeasement – and a glaring lack of political courage – in the rise of radical tribal activists, the rise of corporate iwi pursuing more and more claims, in rackets and rorts, and in an increasingly divided country where people are progressively separated on the basis of race.

First it was the Treaty claims and politicians turning a blind eye to the fact that all of the remotely genuine claims had already been settled multiple times by earlier governments.

Now claims are becoming more demanding and absurd. For example, Tuhoe demanded ownership of the entire half a million acres (2,127 sq km) of the Urewera National Park – in spite of the long established convention that the conservation estate would not be used for Treaty settlements. What’s worse is that the Treaty Settlement Minister Chris Finlayson agreed to the deal! It was only the intervention of the Prime Minister – when he realised how strong public opposition was to the giving away of our National Park to a tribal group – that he pulled the plug. Whether the Urewera National Park will be part of the new settlement agreement with Tuhoe remains to be seen.

But the tribal elite don’t stop at land. With the assistance of the Waitangi Tribunal, iwi are claiming ownership of New Zealand’s flora and fauna – our plants and wildlife including their genetic material. That claim is simply waiting for the government’s response. New claims for Mataitai, or customary fishing areas, are now coming through, which give local tribes the right to seize control of an area for themselves and lock everyone else out – under the guise of environmental concerns, fishing stock regeneration, sustainability or some other worthy excuse.

New claims are being lodged by tribal corporations for ownership of the mineral-rich coastline – thanks to National’s appalling Marine and Coastal Area Act. And let’s not forget their successful claim to the electromagnetic spectrum.

The tribal elite’s next claim is for the very governance of New Zealand.

The Maori Council and the other elite tribal groups will be carefully watching the progress of the Maori Party’s $4 million constitutional review. If they succeed in persuading New Zealanders that the time is right for the introduction of a new written constitution – that enshrines the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as superior law – “Maori law” and privilege will become entrenched. Non-Maori New Zealanders will become second-class citizens in their own land.

What’s worse is that any attempt by any future government to change such an arrangement would be struck down as unconstitutional. David Round, a constitutional law expert at Canterbury University and this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, says in his article Charter, that if the Treaty gets into a new constitution in any way at all, New Zealand would be “irrevocably stuffed”.

David explains, “The present proposed constitutional review is not just another crime against the common good in this sorry catalogue. It is far worse; it would be the death-blow to our country. So far, everything that has been done can be undone. A ‘constitution’ is simply the rules by which something is constituted and organised. We have a constitution now. At present, though, our constitution is not found in any one document which can be labelled ‘The Constitution’, but in principles of the common law and in long-standing customs and practices (much, although not all, originally inherited from England), and in many Acts of Parliament.

“The fundamental principle of our constitution is (at present) the ancient one we inherited from the common law of England that Parliament is supreme. That principle is not found in any Act of Parliament, it is simply ancient law. It is also, of course, a principle consistent with democratic government. As things stand at present, then, any Parliament could abolish racial privilege and restore the equality of citizens and government for the common good. But if the Maori Party has its way ~ if we come to be saddled with an over-riding written constitution which controlled what Parliament may and may not do, and which declared that the ‘principles of the Treaty’ were a higher law which always prevailed ~ then Parliament would not be supreme in future. If future Parliaments were to attempt to establish and restore true racial equality, then, its laws could be struck down by judges who considered that those laws breached a ‘Treaty principle’ of eternal special status for those of Maori descent.”

As you will be aware, ever since the New Zealand Centre for Political Research was first established in 2005, we have been fighting against racial privilege. We firmly believe that all New Zealanders should be equal in the eyes of the law. There should be no special treatment based on race. With the Maori Party spending $4 million to convince New Zealanders that a new “written” constitution based on the Treaty as supreme law, is in the best interest of the country, we are taking a stand.

Legal and official racism has gone too far in this country. The public is being betrayed by politicians who do not have the fortitudes to protect the public interest and call an end to the grievance industry. Treaty sympathisers in the public service and Judiciary are complicit, with race based preference now infiltrating every crevice within our public institutions.

In the words of David Round: “We, New Zealanders, having founded our society in the equality of comradeship, and living here at home in the land we have made, utterly oppose any laws which establish or promote racial distinction or division. There shall be one law for all. We have had enough of official and legal racism. We do not request the following items, we demand them:

  • We refuse to accept any reference to the Treaty of Waitangi or its principles in any constitutional document.
  • We require that such references be removed from all existing legislation.
  • We require that race-based Parliamentary seats be abolished.
  • We require that race-based representation on local bodies be abolished.
  • We require that the Waitangi Tribunal, which has outlived any usefulness it may have had, be abolished.

And we pledge ourselves to oppose and resist all those of whatever rank or degree who, whether by force or the devious processes of the law, attempt to impose the fetters of racial inequality on the free citizens of New Zealand.”

To support this pledge, please sign the DECLARATION OF EQUALITY on our new Independent Constitutional Review website. By signing up to the DECLARATION OF EQUALITY, you too will be putting a stake in the ground, demanding one law for all New Zealanders with no special treatment based on race. The Independent Constitutional Review website can be found at www.ConstitutionalReview.org. Please tell everyone who shares our concerns about it.

To visit the website and sign the DECLARATION OF EQUALITY, please click here>>>