About the Author

Avatar photo

Dr Muriel Newman

It’s time to say no more

Print Friendly and PDF
Posted on

Last Thursday, TVNZ’s current affairs programme Close Up asked viewers “Do Maori have a special place in this country?” The result was overwhelming – 81 percent of the 40,000 respondents said “No”, Maori do not have a special place.

This result contrasted sharply with the viewpoint being expressed by two of the show’s three panellists, Maori commentators Willie Jackson and Derek Rankin who were arguing strongly in favour of a privileged status for Maori. The third panellist, Canterbury University law lecturer and Treaty expert David Round, who is this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, argued that all New Zealanders are equal under the law and that Maori have no special civil, legal or political rights.

While participants in such TV polls are obviously self-selected and may therefore produce results that are not statistically valid, nevertheless when very large numbers of people contribute to results that are so conclusive, the consensus cannot be ignored.

The TVNZ poll reflected a view that is prevalent in New Zealand, that the Maori grievance industry has gone too far and is now damaging the fabric of our society.

Devised as a mechanism to put right the wrongs of the past, the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process has grown into a lucrative gravy train. Supported by self-interested politicians, it has become a well-worn pathway for the elite of Maoridom to gain – in the name of justice – racial privilege and increasingly generous taxpayer funded benefits. Grievance has been replaced by greed.

Since the law re-opening historic grievances was passed by the Labour Government in 1985, some 26 claims have been settled – many for a second, third and even fourth time! But with the National Party intending to use an omnibus bill or some other mechanism to fast-track the settlement of 23 major claims ahead of the dissolution of Parliament on October 20th, they are clearly planning to virtually eliminate proper public scrutiny. This is totally unacceptable, since these claims will not only privatise schools, Police Stations, conservation lands and other pubic assets, but will also transfer hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to tribes based on their self-serving versions of history.

To make matters worse, John Key’s foolish endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is enabling the Maori grievance industry to shift its focus from Treaty of Waitangi settlements to so-called ‘indigenous’ rights. This was the tactic successfully used to justify the privatisation of the foreshore and seabed and unless stopped, it will be used by avaricious tribes to privatise other treasured public resources into iwi ownership.

Maori sovereignty advocates like Willie Jackson believe the scepticism shown by participants in the TVNZ poll indicates that New Zealanders need more “education” about how hard done by Maori claimants are, and how the settlement process has only given them “peanuts”. Ironically this comes at a time when a new report from the Maori Economic Taskforce has estimated that the Maori asset base now stands at a massive $37 billion – largely as a result of Treaty settlement funding. If Willy Jackson and his cohorts get their way, New Zealanders will have to put up with even more Treaty propaganda being thrust down our throats.

It’s bad enough already. Treaty dogma has already widely infiltrated the education system, forcing our children to learn Maori spiritual values and a doctored version of history. It’s entrenched throughout the State Service driving changes to traditional customs and practices such as the Maori version of the National Anthem now being performed ahead of the English version, the Maori sovereignty flag now being flown alongside the New Zealand flag on Waitangi Day, meetings now starting with prayers and speeches in the Maori language even though no-one understands it, pregnant and menstruating women now being banned from exhibitions at Te Papa, and climbers now being warned they cannot stand on the summit of a mountain because it is sacred.

If New Zealanders allow politicians to continue appeasing the sovereignty movement – as National is doing – Maori custom and practice will increasingly dominate life in this country. Isn’t it time we said “no more”? Isn’t that what the TVNZ poll shows New Zealanders are thinking?

For generations, taxpayers have had to stand by while politicians have found ever-more generous ways of plundering the public purse to appease a race-based minority for so-called injustices that not only date back hundreds of years, but that have already been settled. The resulting victim mentality of tribal leaders and claimants groups, means that their focus is on looking backwards not forwards, calling on others to solve their problems instead of taking responsibility to sort things out for themselves. Along with the failure of state welfare and education, this is a major contributing factor to on-going Maori underachievement.

So, while tribal activists claim the government is not doing enough to satisfy their demands as “partners” with the Crown, the majority of New Zealanders believe the government is doing far too much. To understand who is right, we need to look at what the Treaty of Waitangi actually said.

Distinguished scholar and statesman Sir Apirana Ngata, in his book “The Treaty of Waitangi”, explained, “The Treaty found us in the throes of cannibalism. These were lawless times. Therefore the Queen was desirous to establish a Government with a view to avert the evil consequences to the Maori people and to the Europeans living under no laws.

  • · Under Article One, Maori Chiefs do absolutely cede to the Queen of England forever the Government of their lands.
  • · Under Article Two, “the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the full possession of their lands, their homes and all their possessions”.
  • · And under Article Three, “Maori and Pakeha are equal before the Law, that is, they are to share the rights and privileges of British subjects”.

The terms of the Treaty of Waitangi are what it actually says. Its three terms (Articles) describe the basic organisation of the State: that the Queen is sovereign, that private property rights will be protected, and that all New Zealanders are equal under the law. Nowhere does it mention a partnership between Maori and the Crown, and nor is there any hint of special status or privilege for Maori. And the fact that 200 chiefs gathered together at the Kohimarama Conference in 1860 to reconfirm the Treaty of Waitangi demonstrates that it was widely understood and accepted by Maoridom at the time.

I asked David Round to clarify for NZCPR readers the key issue – does the Treaty create a partnership between Maori and the Crown? David explains:

“The Treaty is not about partnership. The Treaty never mentions partnership. The arrangement the Treaty describes is the very opposite of partnership. The Treaty says that the Queen has sovereignty, and that Maori are her subjects like everyone else, enjoying the rights of subjects as everyone else is and bound by the law as everyone else is.

“The idea of ‘partnership’ only appeared in 1987, when five judges of the Court of Appeal, called upon to interpret the brand-new concept of ‘Treaty principles’, which Parliament had just inserted in the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986, spoke in several places of partners and partnership. It is absolutely clear, however, that the judges did not intend the words to have the weight of politically-charged and even seditious meaning which is now loaded onto it. The words were used very loosely and generally ~ ‘partners’ was used interchangeably with ‘parties’ to mean no more than the parties to the Treaty ~ a ‘partnership of races’ was also spoken of, not (as is now alleged) a partnership between Maori and the Crown. A partnership between Maori and the Crown is constitutionally-impossible nonsense. It would have to mean that Maori are not the Queen’s subjects (as the Treaty says they are) but the Queen’s equals, and therefore not subject to her government. In a later case even Sir Robin Cooke, obviously worried by the implications which Maori activists had chosen to read into his foolishly-phrased 1987 judgment, specifically said this ~ that the words partners and partnerships had not, in 1987, been used by the Court in a strict narrow legal sense. Indeed, he pointed out that even in actual legal partnerships there were senior and junior partners. The 1987 case also recognised as another Treaty principle the duty of obedience to the laws and loyalty to the Queen’s government, which is hardly consistent with ‘partnership’.” To read David’s full article, click the sidebar link

So there we have it. In spite of all of the claims by the tribal elite that there is a special arrangement, a “partnership” between Maori and the Crown, there is none. As the Treaty of Waitangi stated, we are all equal citizens under the law. That tribalists have benefited hugely from the generosity of fawning politicians eager to buy their on-going support by spending our money and giving away our resources, is a scandal in itself. We have just watched National do it with our precious foreshore and seabed – remove it from Crown ownership so they can give it away to the tribal elite with no mandate and no justification. But we will challenge them through our Citizens Initiated Referendum to repeal their new law and return the coast to Crown ownership.

The patience of the nation has now come to an end. It is time to fight back against the accusations of racism that are hurled at anyone who takes a stand and speaks out against race-based rorts. Those who opposed Nationals’ Marine and Coastal Area Bill faced such accusations of racism. But it is not us who are the racists. We want all races to be treated equally. The real racists are those who seek special privilege based on race and the politicians who gift it to them. Surely the time is right to say “no more”.

The NZCPR believes there should be more public scrutiny of Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlements. We are fundraising for research assistance for this project. Everyone who supports our work will receive the NZCPR’s exclusive EBOOK of Sir Apirana Ngata’s The Treaty of Waitangi. Pleases support our efforts.