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Dr Muriel Newman

Dr Muriel Newman

Down the Path to Racism


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The recent deal between the Maori Party and National over free insulation for Maori houses – whereby social assistance will be based on race, not need – lays a new paving stone on the path to a country divided by race.

According to the Maori Party, they have ‘won’ special rights to free tax-payer funded home insulation for some 2,000 Maori households in return for supporting National’s Emissions Trading Scheme Bill to a Select Committee. The deal shows how institutionalised taxpayer funded Maori privilege has become and the sort of deals that are done in an MMP Parliament.

This home insulation deal comes hard on the heels of earlier claims by the Maori Party that they had ‘won’ increases to welfare benefits in return for their support of the emissions trading bill. While this later proved not to be the case, the fact that such a discussion took place is indicative of the lengths to which National appears prepared to go to inflict their harmful carbon trading legislation onto the country.

In her article “Maori Party laughing all the way to the bank”, Herald columnist Fran O’Sullivan reveals that the Maori Party is also involved in a backroom deal with National to open up previous Treaty settlements to more taxpayer-funded compensation.1 This new wave of compensation will be based on the effect that the emissions trading scheme will have on the asset value of their land, forestry and fishing settlements. And such claims will not come cheap – last year they argued that they could be owed as much as $2 billion if land, currently in forestry, is prevented by the new emissions trading legislation from being able to be converted into more profitable uses.

All of this begs an obvious question – if Maori are going to be able to win massive compensation from the government for their loss of asset value, what does the government intend to do for non-Maori who face similar substantial losses from this reckless new tax? Will they be offered similar compensation, and have such potential taxpayer funded liabilities been factored into the emissions trading scheme costings?

But the government’s pandering to Maori interests doesn’t stop there. National is working with the Maori Party, Crown Law, and officials on the drafting an amendment to their emissions trading legislation which will give effect to the ‘principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi. Minister Nick Smith says that the intent of the amendment is “to require ongoing consultation with Maori about climate change policy”. That is no-doubt code for a future where on-going compensation will become a matter of course. In other words, National may be about to open up yet another racket for Maori to claim compensation into perpetuity. History has taught us that this is already a fraught area with some historic Treaty claims having received multiple ‘full and final’ settlements, some up to four times!2

Let’s be clear on this point. The racist agenda that is currently being imposed on the country by a group of radical Maori is the result of MMP. Under MMP a party that won just 2.4 percent of the popular vote is able to wield influence far in excess of its public support. And the irony is that it is the National Party that is in the driving seat – a Party that has long been opposed to not only MMP, but to the Maori seats themselves.

Inserting clauses into legislation to give effect to the ‘principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi has been regarded as problematic since the practice first began in 1986. In that year the Labour government inserted into section 9 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act a clause that stated, “Nothing in this act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”. By failing to carefully define what these principles are, Parliament allowed Judges and those administering the law to interpret the Treaty principles in whatever way they liked. It was this failure by Parliament to define its terms, and the consequential activism by Judges, that has given rise to the concept of the Treaty as a partnership between Maori and the Crown, with Maori as a superior ruling class.3

In fact, the Treaty of Waitangi itself has no standing in law. It was an agreement signed in 1840 by Maori and the Crown that gave New Zealand a sovereign, that established private property rights, and that ensured that all New Zealand subjects are equal and protected by British law. The force of the Treaty arises whenever it is included in Statute.

A case in point is the highly controversial decision of the New Zealand Geographic Board to insert an “h” into the official name of Wanganui. The Board is governed by legislation that contains a very specific Treaty of Waitangi clause: Section 6 states, that in order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Board is encouraged to use original Maori names of geographic features on official charts and official maps.4 In other words, the Board is not only directed to use Maori names whenever possible, but it is also encouraged to seek advice from the Maori Language Commission, which will of course recommend Maori names.

There was a similar controversy to the Wanganui case in Whangarei a few years ago over the name of the local mountain, Mt Parahaki. The Geographic Board supported local Maori who claimed the name had been wrongly spelt and that it should have been Mt Parihaka. While the historical evidence from maps and records showed that the original name was correct and had always been correct, the name was changed anyway. In this case, history was re-written and the wishes of the vast majority of locals counted for nothing.

In his article The “H” battle, Treaty expert and law lecturer David Round – this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator – looks at the debate over the name of Wanganui and the wider issues it raises:

“In fact the arguments over the h mirror so many of the arguments we are having over race and the Treaty. In this particular controversy we see the whole world in miniature. This is not just an argument over one letter; it is another battle in the war that has been tearing us apart for a generation, and the arguments are strangely familiar.

“In itself, of course, the argument is over something absolutely trivial. But at this point we have to agree with Michael Laws in his reply to the Maori schoolchildren of Otaki… To focus on the h and ignore the crime rate, for example, is to choose to see Maori as oppressed innocents and ignore brutal reality.

“This is a mirror of our society. There is no doubt that Maori are vastly over-represented in all the wrong statistics ~ illiteracy, school truancy, delinquency, domestic violence, crime and prison occupancy, drug abuse, unemployment, poverty, single parenthood… Yet what preoccupies Maori leaders and the news media? Pointless and destructive arguments over what exactly the vague words of the Treaty can cover 169 years later, and over one letter in one word. We concentrate on the tiny things and ignore that elephant standing in our living-room. To raise the other issues would be a racist diversion from the ‘real issue’ of white oppression.

“The school claims that these letters were the children’s own idea, but I am afraid I have my doubts. Busy-body teachers anxious to indoctrinate their charges in politically-correct thought are not unknown elsewhere. Enlisting children in ones political causes is not a wholesome thing to do. It is the kidnapping, one might almost say the corruption of young minds. It may be inevitable that our parents transmit their opinions to us; we expect well-paid self-styled professionals to be rather more professional. We respected teachers when they kept their political opinions to themselves and taught their pupils how to read and write. Now many teachers seem unable to accomplish any of these basic tasks. To judge by what their pupils say, much of the ‘history’ taught in our schools seems merely a contemplation of the innocence and pacifism of the primitive Maori and the beastliness and worthlessness of the white man and his civilisation”.

In an NZCPR article in 2008, History Professor Paul Moon described how ‘historical revisionism’ suppresses the truth of history, and he described the accusations of racism and calls for his resignation that resulted from his publication of a book about the violent and widespread practice of Maori cannibalism.5 Without a doubt the impetus to re-write New Zealand history is tied to the emergence of the Waitangi grievance industry, a brainchild of Labour Governments, which set up the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 to deal with contemporary Treaty grievances and extended the jurisdiction in 1985 to cover historical claims going back to 1840.

As a result of these developments historical accounts of New Zealand’s past, especially those relating to the issue of first settlement, have undergone a dramatic sanitization over recent years. In particular, stories that used to be taught in schools of Moriori as Melanesian pre-Maori settlers of the mainland, who were conquered and then driven to the remote Chatham Islands by the far more ‘aggressive’ Maori, have all but disappeared, in spite of claims by some Moriori descendents that indeed their history long pre-dates that of Maori.

In fact, there is now growing scientific evidence of human habitation in New Zealand over a thousand years earlier than the great Maori migration is estimated to have occurred. In “The timing of the human discovery and colonization of New Zealand”, the University of Waikato’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Douglas Sutton and Massey University’s Professor John Flenley combine with other archeologists to argue that the evidence found in charcoal particles, pollen spore records, mitochondrial Moa DNA, and the bones of Rattus Exulans (the Polynesian rat, which was closely associated with early human migration) points to human settlement in New Zealand more than 1,000 years before the great migration is reputed to have taken place around 1200 AD.6

This, and other research, highlights that fact that the settlement of New Zealand was most likely a continuous process, which makes claims of an ‘indigenous’ population – deserving of special treatment by government – all the more absurd. By its definition, indigenous peoples are those “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country”. New Zealand’s early settlers arrived by canoes over a period of hundreds if not thousands of years. Later settlers came by ship. Today they come by plane. All New Zealanders were originally migrants and should be treated as equals by the government.