New Zealand was conceived in innocence. Her foundation on these green islands was a work in optimism and faith, in the hope that men and women might live here decently and fairly and strive together in communities of good citizenship. Our forebears sought with plain labour and virtues of heart and hand to establish a new country built on the old world’s hard-gathered wisdom, but freed of that world’s oppressions and imperfections and hierarchies. Committed to the equality of our common humanity, we hoped here to create in our very lives and state a modest yet noble monument to fairness and human happiness. We sincerely believed we could be God’s own country. Since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and Maori became the Queen’s subjects, equal with Britons under the law and entitled to all the rights and privileges of subjects, we have striven to be one people. Our inheritance from our ancestors enriched the new way of life which together we have slowly nurtured here. We have taken root. We are New Zealanders.
We would never be perfect, for perfection is not for this world. But for a while we grew into a little country to be proud of, a land of strong communities and honest government in the people’s service. In the bonds of love we met. Opportunity, it seemed, existed for everyone; for all there were the means of livelihood and from all was a commitment of energy and comradeship to our new nation. By growing bonds of sacrifice, love and marriage, labour and interest, Maori and European have indeed long been becoming one people.
That country did not exist only in our imaginations. If now it seems so remote and impossible, that is only a sad measure of how far we have fallen from our national ideal and our past achievements. Some of our misfortunes have not been of our own making. The world changes, and nations rise and fall. For all its grief, much of our past fell in one of our people’s happier times. We grew to maturity in the shelter of an empire we had ourselves helped to create, and by which much good had come into the world. We are weaned now, and a harder world has new masters and new dangers. In such challenging new times it is more important than ever that we stand together as one people, not as a divided land of warring tribes. But recently, by slow degrees and almost without noticing it, we have started to become a different nation. Many things have changed, but most of all we have lost our innocence, and the virtues by which we made ourselves.
We have come to be divided by a new racial bitterness that will soon be incurable. A vocal racial minority continues to make increasingly extreme demands upon what remains of our national resources and possessions, and even the appeasement of those demands does not satisfy the appetites of those who see every act of generosity as a sign of weakness, and who then demand yet more. To continue in these courses is very short-sighted, for that path leads inevitably and all too swiftly to an apartheid nation, national bankruptcy and civil strife. The law of nature has never decreed that terrible things will never happen in New Zealand. If they have not already, it is because we have been lucky and we have been good. We have been an innocent and a generous nation, always ready to right a wrong and undo an injustice. But being good does not require us to be gullible, to believe without question everything we are told of our own wrongs and racial debts and to grant without question every preposterous demand made on our generosity.
We are already mired in a strife unlike any other we have known, and one that could easily be fatal. Battle-lines are being drawn. We seem to take this new enmity of Maori and Pakeha as having been eternal and inevitable, but nevertheless as something that will never harm us. As things deteriorate we nevertheless continue to delude ourselves that we are somehow exempt from the laws of history, and that somehow things will never really go wrong. But hatreds grow with a life of their own, and the best of nations can come to tear themselves apart. Good intentions are no safeguard; indeed, they can pave the way to hell. We are fast becoming two peoples, increasingly suspicious of each other, the leaders of one people making never-ending demands of the other, and having those demands satisfied only to return for more. Not so long ago we were regularly told that upon the settlement of the latest round of Treaty claims all acrimony would disappear, we would lay the past to rest and march forward in brotherhood again. (Prominent among those who told us so was a since-convicted Minister of Treaty Settlements who has had a part in ruining the lives of many hard-working and provident citizens. What a pity that honourable knight of the realm, so concerned about the ‘honour of the Crown’, did not think a little more about his own. What a pity his concern for Maori did not extend to other New Zealanders.) But that claim, that this most recent round of Treaty settlements (for there have been many earlier ‘full and final’ settlements) would be an end of racial acrimony, has turned out to be a lie. Already we are told that there will be another round of claims in the next generation, and in the meantime there have been more things to demand as a ‘Treaty right’.
Most recently, at the behest of the Maori Party ~ a party which by its very name announces its racist agenda ~ the government has appointed a panel to ‘advise’ it on possible changes to our constitution. The document appointing the panel speaks of an already existing ‘Treaty relationship’ and the ‘partnership model’, and assumes the very thing the panel is set up to investigate. The terms of the Treaty of Waitangi declare the equality of all before the law and the status of Maori as the Queen’s subjects like everyone else. But Maori, and not just Maori but even our very own government, now regularly refer not to the terms of the Treaty ~ what it actually said ~ but to the ‘principles’ of the Treaty. These principles are recent political inventions, which, by their talk of ‘partnership’ between Maori and the Crown ~ a notion which is the very opposite of what the Treaty actually says ~ are already used every day to argue for Maori privilege and special status at the expense of all other citizens. Thanks to the disgraceful political activism of judges who put their own politics before their judicial oaths, these ‘principles’ already have a shadowy legal status. We fear that the noisy agitation of a minority of malcontents may lead to these ‘principles’ being given a definite legal status in a new constitution, where they would thereafter be interpreted, and reinterpreted, and extended, indefinitely so as to render all non-Maori New Zealanders as second-class citizens in their own country. This must not happen.
We cannot return to the past, but we must change our present path, which is a deadly descent towards a poisoned apartheid state and civil strife. For too long, and in vain, have we hoped that those to whom we have given authority would serve our and the state’s best interests. But we find ourselves betrayed by the very people we have set over ourselves. We are sacrificed to the interests and ambitions of legislators increasingly contemptuous of the common good and their own promises. Individually, our elected representatives may be decent people. But as Members of Parliament and of political parties they become part of a machine which leads them to break their solemn promises. The National Party, the centre of our present government, pledged itself to end racial separatism. It is now doing the very opposite. Does it understand what the word ‘promise’ means? Or ‘honour’, or ‘integrity’? (To be fair to National, we must add that Labour does not even seem to know what it stands for, and the Greens’ avowed policy is of Maori racial privilege. It could be more accurately called the Brown Party.)
Public officials who should serve the common good instead seek to reshape the people they are supposed to serve in their own racist politically-correct image. Certain eminent judges betray their oaths of office, ignore elementary justice and overturn longstanding law in the establishment of Maori privilege.
All these people have abandoned their duty, and we can have no respect for them nor faith in them.
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 touching on the subject. 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. This is no idle fantasy. Our present Chief Justice ~ who, with her colleagues in the Court of Appeal, overturned long-established law about the foreshore and seabed in a blatant political decision in 2003, and so created the appalling argument over that matter which is not settled yet ~ that judge, who is sworn to administer justice according to law, has already, and more than once, stated publicly that she considers herself entitled right now to strike down Acts of Parliament if they happen to clash with her interpretation of ‘Treaty principles’. If a new constitution were officially to give her the opportunity to do that we may be sure that she would take it.
The Maori Party’s avowed aim in this constitutional review is to put the ‘principles of the Treaty’, as they and their judicial friends will understand them, into our constitution. Thereafter the special status and privilege of those of Maori descent will be guaranteed for ever. It would be impossible to undo such an arrangement, for any attempt by Parliament or anyone else to do so would thereafter be ‘unconstitutional’. If the Treaty gets into our constitution, therefore ~ if there is any mention of it which an unscrupulous judge can use ~ then the majority of the people of New Zealand will become second-class citizens in their own country. This must not happen. If it does happen, then our increasingly unhappy, impoverished and divided country will be irrevocably stuffed.
There may well be room for debate on other aspects of our constitution. Members of Parliament no longer seem to consider themselves properly responsible to the people they serve, and we may want to think of ways in which that responsibility could be restored ~ by making citizens-initiated referenda binding, for example, or creating some mechanism whereby the voice of the people recalls unpopular legislation and requires Parliament to reconsider it. No-one would want to see judges subject to political influence, but some judges have obviously forgotten that their independence is part of a bargain, and that the price of their remaining free from outside interference is that they for their part stick to deciding legal disputes and do not indulge in political adventures themselves. Incredibly, it is judges themselves who are failing to observe this separation of powers; and once judges ~ who are, after all, just unelected officials ~ start to behave as politicians, they must expect to be treated as such. To expect anything else would be pure hypocrisy on their part.
On such matters, and others, we can have legitimate debates. But it is utterly out of the question that our constitution should recognise and enforce racial distinction and condemn our country to racial division, with all that that entails, for ever. But if the Treaty gets into our constitution in any way, that is what will happen.
If you feel strongly about this ~ and we believe that you should, and that most New Zealanders do ~ then we ask you to sign this declaration, and to get your family and friends to sign it also. We must stop the separatists entrenching their hold over our country. We must change New Zealand’s course. It is now or never.
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.
*The NZCPR has launched a DECLARATION OF EQUALITY: There shall be one law for all New Zealanders with no special treatment based on race… To read about it and sign the petition please visit www.ConstitutionalReview.org.