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Dr Muriel Newman

Maori demand $600m for Te Reo

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The demands by the Maori elite are as relentless as a rising tide.

Not content with securing the future ownership of the public’s foreshore and seabed – including invaluable mineral resources which should belong to all New Zealanders not privatised to corporate iwi – Maori leaders are now coming back for more. This time they want $600 million of taxpayers’ money for iwi to pay for something they should arguably be doing for themselves – teaching their children the Maori language.

The amount of funding being demanded is equivalent to the total combined budgets of the entire Vote for Customs, Agriculture and Fisheries, Justice, and Senior Citizens. It comes at a time when the National Party claims to be tightening its belt and cutting back on government spending.

However, the events of the last two years has shown us that the public can no longer have confidence that such an outrageous bid for taxpayers’ money for a new Maori bureaucracy will not go ahead, in spite of assertions by Finance Minister Bill English that there is no money.

We have found – to our cost as a nation – that National’s word cannot be trusted when it comes to policies that bestow privilege on Maori. Since putting their unnecessary coalition agreement with the Maori Party in place, National has become a soft touch for the Maori sovereignty movement. And if our recent experience is anything to go by (namely the Prime Minister reneging on is promise to retain Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed if there was not widespread support for National’s bill) it is clear that the leader of the National Party now cares more about appeasing the Maori Party than he does about his responsibility to the wider public.

National’s record on racial appeasement is alarming.

In spite of their election pledge of one law for all New Zealanders and the abolition of the Maori seats, National:

  • · Orchestrated the secret signing of the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a treaty so radical that even the Labour Party wouldn’t sign it!
  • · Did lucrative backroom deals with the tribal elite in order to get their unwarranted emissions trading scheme passed into law.
  • ·  Has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars into tribal control of the country’s biggest waterway, the Waikato River.
  • ·  Signed co-management deals with iwi for National Parks and the conservation estate without consulting with the public over whether this type of deal is acceptable.
  • ·  Is signing off increasingly generous Treaty of Waitangi settlement deals that include schools, Police stations and iconic public assets.
  • ·  Is currently engaged in discussions with Maoridom over the ownership and ‘guardianship rights’ of New Zealand’s water supplies,
  • ·  Has already sacrificed Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed, and
  • ·  Has agreed to a constitutional review which could result in new constitution for New Zealand that entrenches the Maori seats and a biased version of the Treaty of Waitangi.

As written in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed equal rights to all New Zealanders, not special privilege to Maori. Under the Treaty, Maori chiefs ceded their sovereignty to the Crown and accepted British rule. Article I of the Treaty transferred tribal sovereignty to the Queen of England, Article II established private property rights for all New Zealanders, and Article III offered protection from widespread lawlessness by granting all New Zealanders the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England.

In spite of this clear statement of equality under the law, Maori activists have worked hard over the years to transform the concept into one of partnership between Maori and the Crown, to create widespread State-enhanced racial privilege. By becoming a soft touch, National is making the situation worse.

While railing against “two standards of citizenship” under the leadership of Bill English, John Key’s National Party is now creating two standards of citizenship by pushing Treaty of Waitangi clauses and Maori Advisory Boards into legislation.

The emissions trading scheme’s Treaty clause, which requires the Crown to “give effect to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”, demonstrates just how tightly the Maori Party have tied it all up. There is an onerous list of requirements to consult iwi over almost everything to do with the scheme including any changes to regulations and the setting of targets under the Act, as well as anything to do with forests, fishing, or agriculture. In addition, not only does the current review of the ETS have to abide by the principles of the Treaty, but one of the review team members had to have “the appropriate knowledge, skill, and experience relating to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and tikanga Mori”.1

Then, of course, there is the Auckland Super City Maori Advisory Board. Although the move to require dedicated Maori seats on the new council was defeated, unelected Maori representation was ushered in through the back door in the form of a Maori statutory board.2 While the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, blamed National for inserting Part 7, which contains onerous special requirements for the Maori Statutory Board, it was under his stewardship that the law was passed. By introducing a Rolls Royce of special legislative privilege into local government, there is no doubt that the National Party has set up a precedent that the Maori Party will exploit in other local authority areas around the country whenever the opportunity arises.

The storm of protest that followed the announcement of a $3.4 million budget for the Maori Advisory Board is indicative of the abhorrence with which the public views race-based representation. The fact that Mayor Len Brown chose to hold the crucial debate over the nine-member board’s final funding allocation in secret, shows how desperate supporters of greater privilege for Maori are to minimise public opposition. In the end, the Board’s budget for next year was set at $1.9 million – the Chairman entitled to a base remuneration of $75,000, the deputy $65,000 and the other 7 members $53,000 each. The fact that a number of other public agencies already exist to do the same sort of job expected from the new Board does not enter into the equation!

While the public may have expressed outrage over an expensive race-based committee to advise the Auckland City Council on matters pertaining to Maori, this has not stopped National from ploughing ahead with more such legislative initiatives.

The latest is the setting up of a Maori Statutory Board on the new Environmental Protection Authority, and that’s in addition to having at least one member on the Authority “who has knowledge and experience relating to the Treaty of Waitangi and tikanga Mori”.3 As if that’s not enough, the Maori Party has already stated that it will be pushing for the inclusion of a Treaty of Waitangi clause into the legislation during the Committee Stages of the Bill.

During the second reading debate on the EPA Bill Maori Party MP Rahui Katene described the privileged relationship in place between Maori and National: “There is, of course, a complex and sophisticated policy methodology already in place, which enables early policy engagement with iwi leaders and their advisers. This has been a key plank of Mori Party policy that we encourage the Crown and promote opportunities for Ministers to seek advice from iwi leaders and their advisers across Government policy. So we see already in place iwi advisers for fresh water from Ngti Twharetoa, Waikato-Tainui, Ngi Tahu, Te Arawa, and Whanganui. We see both technical and cultural advisers from whnau, hap, and iwi across the resource management reforms, and in the development of the national policy statement on biodiversity. We know that there is a Mori reference group on climate change and the emissions trading scheme, including representatives from iwi from 13 regions right across the country.”4

In other words, while the Maori elite have gained a preferential input into policy decision-making, as always, they want more.

Michael Coote, an Auckland-based freelance writer and this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, has produced a devastating critique of the $600 million Maori language demand, in his article The Great Maori Language Rort:

“The great Maori language rort is one of a series of frauds being perpetrated on New Zealanders by part-Maori looters of taxpayer funds and Crown assets (or in the case of the foreshore and seabed, ex-Crown assets). The systematic looting of the Crown and taxpayers by part-Maori is so widely pervasive and inflicted on so many fronts and guises that it is not always easy for ordinary New Zealanders to gain an understanding of its breathtaking scale and audacity.

He goes on to explain that “Tribes of the seven Maori regional dialects want the government’s entire Maori language budget handed over to them so that they can teach their respective dialects to their children in the home. The supposed good arising is that Maori language will survive and the percentage of its part-Maori speakers can be targeted to increase to 80% in several decades’ time. This demand represents a huge and ongoing direct transfer of taxpayer wealth across to part-Maori households to do what most parents do anyway, namely teaching their kids to speak at least one language in the home, or more than one if the household is bilingual or multi-lingual. The report explicitly shifts the alleged essence of cultural identity for part-Maori from speaking the Maori language to speaking the Maori dialect of their tribal region.

“This redefinition is couched in alleged rights and entitlements under the Treaty of Waitangi and more particularly the UN’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP). It will be recollected that the National-led government of that political idiot savant John Key permitted Mr Sharples to sneak off secretly to New York and sign us all up to DRIP. Mr Key is even quoted approvingly in the report as telling us how wonderful that UN-sponsored commitment to institutionalised racism would be for this country. We see the implications of DRIP start to leak out in a supposed right for part-Maori to learn Maori language in tribal dialect with government support.”

There is no doubt that this radical demand for corporate iwi to take control of $600 million of Maori language funding is a step along the path to Maori sovereignty and self-rule. The report makes it clear that the Maori language is the foundation of the identity and sovereignty of Maori tribalists. To pour vast amounts of taxpayer funding into programmes that may be used in the future to divide the nation along racial lines, surely defies common sense.