New Zealanders (3)

All NZers are equal — but some are more equal than others.

We are one people. —Jacinda Ardern following the March 2019 mosque attacks.

No, we’re not

By Roger Childs

We are two nations – Maori (or more accurately, part-Maori), and non Maori. There are more than 90 pieces of legislation which make special provision for Maori and their culture. This segment of New Zealanders, which includes many with less than 10% Maori blood, is now getting $56 million in special funding to help their communities during the Coronavirus-induced recession. No other ethnic group is getting extra financial assistance. 

What’s more, iwi in Northland and the East Coast have used the Covid-19 situation to take the law into their own hands by setting up road blocks which were not originally sanctioned by the police or local authorities. Taranaki tribes are now considering similar measures. Their justification is that there must be protection for their vulnerable communities.

Are they more vulnerable than anyone else?

Spanish Flu 1One of the arguments used to justify special Maori Covid-19 funding, is the impact of the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic. Historian Geoffrey Rice estimates that the mortality rate amongst Maori then was eight times that for Europeans. At that time most Maori lived in rural areas and often in very unhealthy villages. They also had poor immunity to European diseases. So there was no queston about their vulnerability in 1918.

Spanish FluHowever, that was more than 100 years ago and since then there has been a great deal of inter- marriage, urbanisation and  major improvements in living standards, health and housng. So in 2020, part-Maori people are no more vulnerable to Covid-19 than anyone else. 

Nevertheless, the special separatist treatment is being wheeled out once again. 

Special funding tailored for Part-Maori

They have already been given $56m … to Maori … who get their share of all other Covid money. —Christopher Ruthe

 Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare said recently:

Peeni Henare“… as Māori Ministers we know there are specific challenges for Māori that require a specific response.We know that we need to help our people and provide targeted support to Māori businesses and help our vulnerable Māori communities.

“Māori Ministers have been developing a range of responses, and today we are announcing a further package that takes a whole of government approach to providing health, social and economic support tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori.” 

It reads as if there is a seperate Maori government. No details were given on what these “special needs” are, or about what accountabiltiy there will be on how the millions are used.

As Christopher Ruthe points out above, as New Zealanders, part-Maori are entitled to their share of all other funding.

Some special funding is also going to Maori business. Some economists put the value of the Maori economy at around $40 billion and because many Trust companies have special charitable status they pay much lower taxes than other businesses. So do they need any extra assistance?

Obviously all Maori commercial enterprises have been eligible for the financial support Grant Robertson is providing for struggling business during the Covid-19 crisis. So have we got  a classic case of “double dipping”?

Now the Kapiti Coast Distict Council (KCDC) is in on the act.

We listened to iwi and provided each of them with funding of $30,000 to better enable them to deliver their COVID-19 rsponse. —KCDC Draft 2020/2021 Annual Plan

Did they consult with the Irish Society, Pasifika groups, the Chinese Association, the Indian community and other groups about their needs? The Council knows that all New Zealand people and businesses, regardless of ethnicity, are entitled to central government assistance in these challenging times.

Restore equality

In the post Covid-19 world, the government needs to honour the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and restore equality. Article 1 states All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. There needs to be an end to special funding for Maori because these people, as New Zealand citizens, are able to get the general government financial assistance everyone else can get.

There should also be an end to the seperate Maori seats in parliament and special provision in the law for Maori people and their culture. Other ethnic groups do not get this separatist treatment. 

It’s time for us to become “one nation” again and end the inequality for non-Maori people.

 Let us value unity in diversity and our ethnicity, but take pride in our common Kiwi culture and being equal citizens. We will all be the better for it.

Readers should ask the politicians this election year, what isn’t racist about having special privileges based on blood-lines?  —Eds