We have separate streams in public policy formation (such as) an unelected and inscrutable iwi leaders forum which exerts influence at the highest levels of government… –Karl du Fresne, Dominion Post Thursday 28 May

Gone from Stuff media

by Roger Childs

Karl du FresneKarl du Fresne has been one of the Dominion Post’s most interesting and challenging columnists, but sadly is no longer writing for it. Fortunately, he still writes a weekly column in his online blog — see below.

In one of his last columns for Stuff in late May, he provided a perceptive synthesis of the special treatment given to the part-Maori ethnic group.

Special provisions and rights for Maori

I believe racism is the belief that some races are inherently superior or inferior to others, and that discriminatory treatment is therefore justified. –Karl du Fresne

Maori roadblockIn his article du Fresne contended that the Politically Correct view of racism in contemporary New Zealand includes virtually any statement or action that is perceived as not favourable to Maori or other ethnic groups. He gives examples such as criticism of spontaneous Covid-19 Maori road blocks and having unelected Maori representatives in local government.

He also took issue with–

  • special courts for Maori youth
  • special quotas for Maori medical trainees
  • iwi involvement on local projects
  • control over lakes and rivers.

At the central government level, he questioned why we need special Maori seats in Parliament and wonders why we are calling the country Aotearoa when there has been no official sanction [see this Wikipedia article]. He suggests that a referendum should be held on the country’s name and many would argue that there should also be a vote on the seven special electorates.

Waitangi 3With more space he could have touched on the racist nature of the Waitangi Tribunal and the more than 90 pieces of legislation which make special provision for Maori culture and interests.

Addressing a key issue

This is the first article I’ve seen in Stuff which seriously addresses the favouritism given to people calling themselves Maori – who, in fact, have predominantly non-Maori ancestry – and hopefully it won’t be the last.

However, undoubtedly Maori activists brand du Fresne as “racist”.

Many years ago, Labour Prime Minister David Lange spoke of the dangers of Maori separatism for our democracy.

Democratic government can accommodate Maori political aspiration in many ways. It can allocate resources in ways which reflect the particular interests of Maori people. It can delegate authority, and allow the exercise of degrees of Maori autonomy. What it cannot do is acknowledge the existence of a separate sovereignty. As soon as it does that, it isn’t a democracy. We can have a democratic form of government or we can have indigenous sovereignty. They can’t coexist and we can’t have them both.

Read the blog

One hopes Karl du Fresne’s departure from Stuff wasn’t because he was taking a knife to precious sacred cows.  Fortunately, you can still read his take on issues of the day by going to his blog: