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Dr Muriel Newman

Constitutional Advisory Panel Members Reveal Bias

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Ranginui Walker

With just a week to go until the consultation phase of the government’s constitutional review comes to an end, if you haven’t already sent in a submission, you have until 5pm Wednesday July 31st to do so.

The review has focussed public attention on the exercise of constitutional power in New Zealand. In doing so it has become clear that the Maori sovereignty movement has made significant progress towards their goal of the co-management of the country.

The iwi elite are pro-actively seeking partnership deals wherever they can, with barely a murmur of public discontent. Unfortunately, their fabricated argument that the Treaty gives Maori a “partnership” privilege with the Crown, has gained traction with PC government officials and politicians alike.

But where is the Parliamentary opposition to this iwi power grab? Surely not all of the parties in Parliament agree with the governance of New Zealand being transferred to iwi corporations?

To appreciate just how ludicrous this situation really is, consider the fact that on one hand, half of the parties in Parliament are stridently opposing the partial sale of State Owned Crown assets, yet on the other hand they are silently supporting the transfer of governance from the Crown to private interests.

Earlier this month, Radio New Zealand interviewed Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker, who is an influential member of the government’s Constitutional Advisory Panel – and the Waitangi Tribunal – about the constitutional review.1 He explained, “We’ve been tasked with taking the conversation about the constitution out to the people – all the people, Maori, Pakeha, Asian, Pacific Islanders. The panel was carefully constituted to do that job. There are five pakeha and five Maori, one Asian and one Pacific Islander.”

So here’s the question – in a country where New Zealand Europeans represent 69 percent of the population and Maori represent 15 percent, Asian 9 percent, and Pacific Islanders 7 percent, how is it possible that Professor Walker can argue that the panel has been ‘carefully constituted’, when true representation would mean a panel of eight New Zealand European members, two Maori, one Asian and one Pacific Islander?

Is the makeup of this Panel proof that the government has already sold out to the iwi elite, who are claiming that ‘true representation’ means 50 percent Maori and 50 percent everyone else? Is 50:50 to be the official face of equal representation in New Zealand? If so, what has happened to our overriding democratic principles of equal citizenship and one person, one vote? Is the grubby reality of MMP coalition politics causing our government to turn its back on democracy itself?

Professor Walker continues his interview by explaining, “I personally have done upwards of 19 meetings around the country and have met nothing but agreement by the people I have talked to about the need to look at such things as the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori representation, Maori representation in local government, and whether we should have a written or unwritten constitution.”

In spite of a Cabinet Committee requirement that Constitutional Advisory Panel members be “representative of wider New Zealand society”, “able to relate to a wide range of New Zealanders”, and “are seen as fair, open to a range of views and with no conflict of interest”, Professor Walker then describes what he thinks of our Independent Constitutional Review Panel: “I was fortunate I didn’t have any oppositional forces at the meetings I went to because there is a counter group, an alternative constitutional advisory panel that puts out some scurrilous things in newspaper advertisements saying that the Maori Party has hijacked the constitution, that the Constitutional Panel is stacked with Maori, that the Treaty is going to be made supreme law and pakeha are going to become second class citizens, and we’ll have an apartheid state. Now all that is scaremongering stuff, that’s at the bottom end of the spectrum. But in between is a wide range of sentiments. There are quite a few people who agree that Maori are the tangata whenua, there are a lot of people agree that the Treaty is the founding document of nationhood and that’s good, advanced forward thinking which is in line with Maori thinking.”

In other words, if you agree with the views of the elite and powerful of Maoridom, you can congratulate yourself for your ‘advanced, forward thinking’. If you oppose separatism and race-based privilege, you are nothing but a bottom-dwelling scaremongerer.

Professor Walker’s comments confirm that the Constitutional Advisory Panel is biased and claims that it is open-minded and objective are laughably false.

Professor Walker is not the only Constitutional Advisory Panel member to publicly reveal his deep seated prejudice against non-Maori. The Panel’s co-chair, Sir Tipene O’Regan, is equally so. During a talk at a Matariki breakfast in Dunedin last month, Sir Tipene is reported as saying, “The panel wanted to hear from ‘individuals and groups of serious-minded people’ even if there was only one issue on which they wished to comment. Some extremist groups had already been quick to offer their thoughts, including Nazi sympathisers and some who wished to reverse Maori influence in this country and seemingly wanted to remove every trace of Maoridom. He asked if they also wished to ‘black out in some way’ the koru pattern on the tail of Air New Zealand aircraft. Removing that Maori flavour would leave New Zealand as ‘just another little Anglo left-over’ stuck at the bottom of the Pacific.”2

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is David Round, a law lecturer at Canterbury University and the Chairman of our Independent Constitutional Advisory Panel, who wrote an open letter of complaint to Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, one of the Ministers responsible for the constitutional review, about the bias demonstrated by Sir Tipene.

David begins his letter: “We write this open letter to you to express our dismay at recent remarks by Sir Tipene O’Regan, the co-chair of your government’s Constitutional Advisory Panel, as reported in the Otago Daily Times, and to ask what your attitude can be to an official panel which displays the predetermination and partiality which a good number of panel members clearly hold.”

He explains who we are: “We are members of the Independent Constitutional Review Panel.3 We are private citizens, who in the absence of any other obvious person willing to take the job on, have joined together to raise public awareness of the dangers which the Maori Party’s agenda for the C.A.P. pose for our country’s future, and to lead public debate on a vital issue which desperately requires it. Our political backgrounds are various but mainstream. All of us have taken a well-informed interest in Treaty debates for many years.  We receive no government recognition or support; all our work is funded by the donations of ordinary New Zealanders who share our fears.”

David then outlines a number of specific concerns about Sir Tipene’s remarks including:

“(b) In his extremist groups Sir Tipene includes groups who wish to reverse Maori influence in this country. There is certainly a proportion of the population who believes that Maori influence in government and legal and political arrangements is rapidly heading out of control, but they are not extremists. They are a majority of citizens, who believe in racial equality in a colour-blind democratic state. Those who do not are the extremists.

“(c) We cannot but cynically interpret Sir Tipene’s hope that serious-minded individuals and groups would get involved as a dog-whistle to his own sympathisers to produce submissions in numbers sufficient to outweigh an unexpected number of submissions from the concerned general public. Those who disagree with him he clearly would not consider serious-minded.

“(d) We will have to take Sir Tipene’s word for it that Nazi sympathisers have been making submissions. If they have, then that is of course no more than their democratic right, and however much we might disagree with them we have to respect their rights as citizens to do so. We will be interested to examine all the public submissions and see if we can find all these Nazi-ish submissions. But in any case, lumping together in one sentence extremists, Nazi sympathisers and those unhappy about the continued Maorification of our country clearly reveals a predetermined view that anything less than continued further Maori influence is extremist and may be dismissed without further consideration.

“(f) Sir Tipene in his speech made reference to particular (alleged) submissions. If he is going to do that, then it is the C.A.P.’s clear obligation now to make all submissions available to the public by electronic means. If this ‘constitutional conversation’ is indeed an open one, as the C.A.P. alleges, then what people are saying should be openly available also. We therefore request that you ensure that all public submissions to the C.A.P. are made available as soon as they are received.”

David is yet to receive a response from Minister English.

But back to Professor Walker – in his radio interview, he shed light on the future plans of the iwi elite to ‘improve’ public understanding of the Treaty by ‘Pakeha’: “the thinking of academics, of lawyers, and judges of Treaty jurisprudence and the government is way ahead of the thinking of the vast mass of Pakeha people in this land. You hear complaints from Pakeha about the Treaty – they want to put it to bed, they hate seeing all the millions that Maoris are getting. All that kind of thinking comes out of ignorance and so the government has a big job to educate the vast majority of Pakeha people who don’t know the history as to why those Treaty settlements are the way they are and bring them up to speed to accept and understand what is going on.”

In other words, Professor Walker is claiming opposition to the agenda of the Maori sovereignty movement is based on ‘ignorance’, which he needs to be ‘corrected’ through education – especially at primary and secondary school. What they are signalling, of course, is indoctrination on a grand scale – pushing Treaty propaganda onto the public in the hope that they will turn into supporters of biculturalism and the Maori supremacy agenda.

In light of these plans, it may be time to re-launch the anti-propaganda campaign run by the NZCPR in 2007, to protect New Zealand children from political indoctrination. It was based on the British experience of inserting into their 1996 Education Act two amendments that not only ban the teaching of propaganda, but ensure that if political issues are presented, they must be balanced. In particular, Section 406 states that local education authorities, school governing bodies and head teachers “shall forbid… the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school“; and if political issues are brought to the attention of school pupils, the authority, the governors and the head are required by Section 407 to take “such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that… they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views“.4

Once submissions to the government’s constitutional review close at the end of the month, the Constitutional Advisory Panel will prepare their report to the Responsible Ministers with advice on constitutional topics, including any points of broad consensus where further work is recommended. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Maori Affairs are then required to submit a final report to the Cabinet by the end of the year.5

  1. Radio New Zealand, Interview with Ranginui Walker
  2. Otago Daily Times, Opinions sought on constitutional issues
  3. Members of the Independent Constitutional Advisory Panel are David Round (Chair), Professor Elizabeth Rata, Emeritus Professor Martin Devlin, Professor James Allan, Dr Muriel Newman, and Michael Butler – see HERE
  4. UK Legislation, Education Act 1996
  5. Cabinet Office, CAB Min (11) 16,17