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Ross Meurant

A Step too far: Bi-Cultural Partnership

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Bi-Culturalism, predicated as it is and as promulgated by its exponents on the concept of “Partnership”, means Maori should rule New Zealand as an equal partner with, The Rest – of us Kiwis.

By its very description bi-cultural partnership looms in New Zealand today as: DIVISIVE.

What is, “Partnership”?

In terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, as far as this concept intrudes on Constitutional Law, at the political level, politicians of considerable experience – from Rt Hon David Lange to Rt Hon Sir Bill English and Rt Hon Winston Peters – have all dismissed the claim that the Treaty created a, “partnership between Maori and the Crown”.

At the political and pseudo academic level, Attorney General and Minister in Charge of Treaty Negotiations (Chris Finlayson), and somebody well known for having considerable sympathy for Maori aspirations, said that there was, “no question that the Crown has sovereignty in New Zealand”. (1)

At the academic level, former Judge and law lecturer Anthony Willy provides three comprehensive reasons why the claim to partnership, by some elements of Maori, is without foundation.  

Of particular relevance to this debate, he explains that since the use of the word ‘partnership’ in the 1987 Maori Council Court of Appeal case, which activists claim as the ‘evidence’ of the existence of their ‘partnership’ with the Crown, was part of the commentary of the judgement and, not the decision, the concept has no standing in law. (2)

Dr Muriel Newman contends that contemporaneous claims being made by some elements within Maori of, “Treaty partnership claims”, are without substance and are, a “big lie” that is being perpetrated against New Zealand democracy. (3)

Yet, this misguide belief that the Treaty did create a partnership of governance, has been weaponised. It is no longer just a tool of convenience for self-proclaimed “influencers” but a dangerous weapon in the hands of “wannabe” politicians who seek to chart our future.

In some cases, Maori and others who promulgate this false legal pretext to promote equal partnership between Maori and the Sovereign State of New Zealand, may not understand the legal reality, but in other cases there is in my view, a strategy to brainwash as many as possible and /or intimidate those who stand to defend the legal reality, that the Crown never ceded any sovereignty to Maori.

It is worth noting that when Rt Hon Helen Clark was Prime Minister, she called Maori supremacists, “haters and wreckers” and refused their demands. (4)

What is culture?

Culture, captures the essence of what people feel they are: (a) In the form of folklore, family traditions and customs; (b) In the form of dancing and music; (c) In the form of belief: religion or faith; (d) Historical events passed down through the generations; and (e) Language is a critical component.

I empathise with ethnic groups who seek to preserve their culture.

Statistics New Zealand advised that only one in six Maori could speak te reo with some degree of fluency, and since Maori make up only about one in six of our total population, that is likely to mean that only about 3% of our total population can speak it fluently.

Preservation of Maori language is important – to some.  But to impose resurrection of Maori language as duty or worse; as a compulsory obligation on ethnic groups who are not Maori?   This I consider to be, a step too far.

In my view; it is up to Maori to preserve their culture in New Zealand, just as do the Scottish decedents in Southland and as do the descendent of Dalmatia in Northland.

I hear no demand from Chinese or India communities to impose their language on other New Zealanders – yet both cultures flourish and in terms of critical mass, their population explosion is manifest and both will be dominant population bases in the future.

What then, is the culture of New Zealand?   Is it, Highland dancing – as I was brought up with?  Is it the haka?  To some, it may be – rugby?

Many a true word spoken in jest – but reflect for a moment: what is the culture of New Zealand?  I see little if any element other than rugby and the haka in New Zealand’s emerging culture. Perhaps nostalgic characteristics akin to Barry Crump’s “A Good keen man” – or – Murray Ball’s “Foot Rot Flats”?  Maybe a shearing shed somewhere?

But no equivalent of Shakespeare, Wordsworth or Lord Byron and others who are implicit in British culture. Nor do I discern any of the equivalent of Swan lake; Tchaikovsky, Borodin or Shostakovich – these being elements which contribute to the culture of Russia, to which I’ve had extensively exposure these past 20 years.

We do have “our” internationally lauded Diva; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.  Yet it’s difficult to find her magic in the mixture which is emerging as the culture of New Zealand.  For example: How does she rate among Kiwis, with Sir Colin Meads?

Defining “Kiwi culture” may be something yet to be determined, but whatever it may be, to divide the nation between: “Maori culture” and “The Rest”, is a national issue of mammoth magnitude.

Who am I?

At this point I deem it appropriate to make it clear that I am of mixed blood (as are we all) and some of that is Maori.  What’s more, demonstrable royal lineage.

On my mother’s maternal side, I have Irish and English; and on her paternal side, Norwegian and Maori.  Some Scandinavian seaman jumped ship in the Hokianga late 19th century.  Hei Hei/KIngi is the connection and the rest needs no further explanation.

On my father’s maternal; side I have Scottish; and on his paternal side, French and Maori. 

By this pedigree, I can say that my French Gt Gt grandfather rocked up in Kawhia in 1835 where he married Princess Kenehuru of Tainui; the daughter of Chief Te Tuhi-O-Terangi of Nga Mahuta and a direct descendant of King Te Wherowhero.

Perhaps you might call me, Chief?

It is also timely to advise, that my first wife’s mother, was part Cook Island part Australian So, for they who would pounce upon me with tirades of “anti-Maori and racist”:  Tread softly for to do so is to tread on the dreams of my relatives.

Being coerced to accept bi-culturalism, risks creating a, latent resentment towards Maori.

Pressure by government and main stream media, to accept a bi-cultural regime over a society of the multiple cultures which make up New Zealand, may well result in, “Blowback” (5).

For example: A China Political Party might emerge within our parliament, resulting unexpected political outcomes, under our system of MMP?

Whether a new political party was to be based on Indian culture; Thailand or Philippines; introduction of political Parties representing the interest of diverse cultures, would provide a vehicle to protect the values of communities which may find themselves being relegated to, The Rest, under a bi-cultural system.

As always and particularly in politics: “Be careful for what you wish.

Whereas bi-culturalism clearly aims at elevating Maori above The Rest of New Zealand, multi-culture by its very label, is inclusive.

Every culture must have the right to retain its origins; its religion, to speak its language, to embrace its ethnicity.  No culture should be elevated above another. Multi-Culturalism = Equality and fairness.

Let’s look at a chronology of arrivals.

Maori first arrived in New Zealand 850 AD or thereabouts.  Kupe was the great adventurer of that time. 

Morori however, insist that Maori were not the first to set foot on this antipodean outpost.

Russian whalers were early arrivals in Bay of Islands.

French colonialists were camped on Banks Peninsula.

Scotland, England, Wales from “downstairs”, provided the earliest white immigrants paying their own way to New Zealand

Chinese were present in the Coromandel and Otago gold fields where they were treated abominably.  A hundred years later, these Coolies, had graduated from an ostracised underclass to business owners.

Dalmatians flocked to Northland in early 20th century where their harvesting of Kauri gum earned more export revenue than was achieved from gold exports! 

A half a century later; offspring of these “Dallies” were still being demeaned in racist terms. Today however, the offspring of these hard-working immigrants may be found as major employers in the wine industry, commercial fishing, and the construction industry.

Take Sir Peter Talley as an example. Son of Ivan Peter Talijancich (later known as Ivan Talley), from modest beginnings in Motueka as a manufacturer of seafood; this family which for decades, ploughed its way through turbulent seas, on coastal trawlers, is today one of the largest fish exporters on the planet.  Frozen vegetables, meat exports and hotels followed the fish.  

Mid 1950ies and arrivals from Holland dominated the statistics. Today the legacy of Dutch immigrants is well established in our dairy farming sectors.

Arrivals from across Europe: be they French or German; Polish, Hungarian, Swedish or from Denmark – followed in dribs and drabs.  Today, they contribute to the diversity of New Zealand’s population.

Immigrants from India flowed in the Sixties. Many established as vegetable farmers in southern Auckland where today, their descendants    thrive.

By the 1970ies, Pacific Island nations had begun their migrations. From Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue and Fiji.

These and other Pacific Island communities in New Zealand, are another manifestation of multi-culturalism. 

If I may dwell momentarily on “Islanders” – as they were referred to in the Seventies.

As a police detective in the seventies, recent arrivals from the Islands were often condemned as a scapegoat for anti-social behaviour by brown skinned people – irrespective of whether they were the perpetrators.

Blatant racism not only among police but many Kiwis, was heaped upon, “Islanders”.

Reality transpired that Pacific Islanders brought with them strong codes of family and religion and hard work.

Many took manual jobs; working hard to provide the means for their children to gain a better start to life.  

I think of former NZ League rep and former police officer Josh Liava’a– with whom I started a private security company during the last 5 years we were mates and still serving police officers. 

The objective of Josh, a Tongan by birth and one of the first emigrants to NZ, was to earn additional money so that he could put his kids through university – which he did.

During these years, Josh effectively had three jobs!  A cop – he attained sergeant rank; director of a private security company, and we were also both at university in our spare time: Josh graduating Dip Crim.

On top of that, he played rugby league for New Zealand.

Josh was one – if not the first among Pacific Island people to arrive in New Zealand during the sixties, to set a bench mark many others have emulated.

Today, sports professionals with Pacific Island heritage, tend to dominate New Zealand selections in rugby and league.

Dame Valerie Adams stands out as an exceptional shot-put World and Olympic champion – born in New Zealand of Tongan and English parents.

Success among Pacific Islanders is not confined to the sports arena.  In academia, they are making their mark.

If I may again step back in time to, Red Squad.

Red Group had cops from backgrounds we describe as; European, Maori and Pacific Island.  Only one had been to a private school.  At the time there were no Asian or sub-Asia continent cops in Red Group.

Over the following two decades:  

Of the 70 per cent of my squad, who were in the European category, only the private school chap later graduated LLb.  He was also commissioned.

Two cops of Samoan first generation heritage and not from affluent demographics, representing 10 per cent of my squad, both later graduated LLb & BA and both were commissioned.

Of Maori who represented 15 per cent of the squad; none graduated university, nor were any commissioned.

Is there is a message in the above examples and comparisons?  Where the ratio of Pacific Islands immigrants per head of population, to have overcome prejudice and having invariably started in lower socio-economic zones, who have attained high level achievements in sport and academia – is above the ratio of Maori achievement in these fields of endeavour?

Perhaps it’s time for New Zealand to look inwards.

Pacific Island groups retain their native language, their strong family bonds and their religious beliefs – without petitioning government to impose their cultures on other cultures within New Zealand.

Pacific Islanders entrenched cultural values are as different from Maori as is the heritage of Samoa from Tonga or Fiji.  To categorise the people as, “The Rest”, is insulting and offensive.

The Bi-cultural Partnership model, compels these people to leave behind their true cultures; and be either in the camp of Maori or The Rest. 

If Pacifika peoples have been able to rise above the adversity which confronted most arrivals beginning in the sixties, without reserved places and concession levels of graduation, perhaps it’s time for New Zealand and Maori to face a few realities about why and how, too many Maori atrophy near the bottom of the socio-economic paradigm? 

As Plato said: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Many have made it.

Two former parliamentary colleagues with whom I had good relations and for whom I have the highest and enduring respect, made it.  Both supported me in my early days in parliament when for a time, things for me were – turbulent.

Hon Sir Dr Peter Tapsell and Hon Whetu Tirikatene – Sullivan.  Both a stand out Maori achiever. 

Maori have provided New Zealand military with a constant flow of high performing personnel and still do.

My brother, Brad Meurant and I were born in rural Northland without silver spoons, and have sufficient Maori pedigree to have claimed all manner of grants and assistance for Maori.  We did not.  Somehow, we broke the mould of, “disadvantaged childhood environment”, which is all too often claimed by some Maori who did not “make it”, as the excuse for failure.

From a self-employed plumber, Brad made it in sport.  A former North Harbour, Chief’s and Northern Region Maori rugby coach; coach of provincial teams in South Africa, Ireland and Japan and who coached the Georgia national team. Ultimately President North Harbour rugby union.

From an unstable childhood and failing school cert, I am now a Master’s university graduate with two and half degrees; a 9-year term Member of Parliament and Under Secretary; formerly a commissioned officer in the police – inspector, and who has carried the infamy of Red Squad as a poisoned chalice; currently Honorary Consul for an African state; Trustee and CEO of substantial absentee Russian owned commercial assets in NZ and have my own international business interests.

This odyssey included a crippling 12-month of depression my mid-fifties (not uncommon for males) precipitated by the Scampi Affair.(6)

From the same backyard as me and of Maori Croatian heritage, Hon Clem Simich Llb made it.  Police; real estate; parliament and cabinet minister.  

From the same school as me and of Maori Scottish heritage, Rt Hon Winston Peters Llb made it from a rural Northland. 

It can be done without special treatment of State support and protection.

Reverting to the chronology of arrivals.

By the dawning of the 21st century, new Kiwis were arriving in their thousands from Asia.

Recent arrivals from India and Pakistan, fulfil essential services.  From taxi, truck and bus operators to shop owners.  From Council employees to professionals in the Health industry.

Immigrants from China, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines may be found as small business owners, restaurateurs, IT technicians, students. And health care workers! 

Take Aged Care and health facilities as one example.

Where would New Zealand be, if it were not for this flood of health workers from S.E. Asia?

Others from the Middle East.  Iraq in particular has provided this country with a large contingent of medically qualified practitioners.   More came from Russia. From South Africa they came. White and Black. From Sudan.  From Eritrea.

A diversity of religions is changing the face of New Zealand forever.                       

These immigrants are today, what constitutes New Zealanders and makes us a, MULTI CULTURAL SOCIETY.

Each and every ethnic grouping which makes up New Zealand today, must have equal rights to practice their religion; their language; their cultural activities.

We are a nation of diverse heritage.  We are a multi cultured society. We are not a bi-cultural society of Maori versus the Rest. Multi Culture = Equality & Fairness.

Yet, to speak against this emerging bi-cultural division of our country; is to do so under fear of physical and on-line abuse and being labelled – racist.

That Dr Don Brash or any other New Zealander, advocates embracing multi culture society over a racially divisive bi-culture, is no justification to attack that advocate, as a racist. 

Nor can their assessments of the Treaty, condemn Judge and law lecturer Anthony Willy, or Dr Newman, or Rt Hon Winston Peters, or former Prime Ministers David Lange and Sir Bill English, or attorney general Hon Chris Finlayson, as racists.   Rule of Law, not Rule of the Mob.

Conversely, some of the invective emanating from some of the protagonists of bi-culturalism – comes perilously close to blatant racism; threatening language and behaviour.  Rule of the Mob, not Rule of Law.

Yet, in October 2020, in defiance of this intimidating environment, Northland Regional councillor John Bain resigned and walked out of the council chamber, saying that he did not want to be part of a ‘broken democracy’ bringing in Māori constituencies without a council-initiated poll to get the community’s steer on what it wanted. (7) 

As Dr Brash presages in a recent article; “Those who demand representation based on race, claim that it is those who oppose such race-based representation who are the racists!  But it is surely those who want councillors elected on a race-based franchise who are the real racists.” (8)    

More recent revelations by the Labour government to retrospectively legislate against referendums and impose Maori Wards, reeks not only of racism but blatant contempt for the democratic process. (9)

What John Bain did, took courage.  Not the sort of courage many Kiwis like to embrace in their definition of NZ Culture – such as a, “hard man on a rugby field”.  

John Bain demonstrated the sort of courage which is all too absent in New Zealanders who in the safety of their living rooms, vociferously protest against this attempted theft of New Zealand, yet are too afraid to take a visible stand. 

The question is: where do you stand?


  1. https://www.hobsonspledge.nz/ross_meurant_re_writing_history_to_suit_contemporary_agendas_will_produce_blowback_from_ordinary_kiwis
  2. https://www.nzcpr.com/the-big-lie/
  3. https://www.nzcpr.com/the-big-lie/
  4. https://www.nzcpr.com/the-big-lie/; http://tvnz.co.nz/content/423947/2556418/article.html
  5. https://www.hobsonspledge.nz/ross_meurant_re_writing_history_to_suit_contemporary_agendas_will_produce_blowback_from_ordinary_kiwis
  6. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/119842482/peters-former-adviser-slams-systemic-course-of-conduct-over-donations
  7. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/local-democracy-reporting/300138289/northland-regional-council-votes-for-mori-constituencies-councillor-resigns-walks-out
  8. “Have we Gone Mad”: Dr Don Brash.
  9. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/govt-set-to-abolish-local-veto-on-councils-maori-wards/GKBFXIFKBKO24ZRH5PFPKGX42U/