by John Robinson

I have written an article on New Zealand apartheid.  I sent it to the Northland Age, with the note: “I, as many others, have become increasingly concerned as New Zealand has moved to separate identity, together with the frequent label of racism put on those who call for equality.  I have prepared a note, a short article, addressing this often neglected question; it is attached.  Would you consider this for the Northland Age?  I note that you encourage, and print, differing points of views and the debate that follows.” 

The Editor, Peter Jackson, replied promptly that he would publish it in an e-mail of 3 March 2021.  A day later, 4 March 2021, he phoned me to tell me that the article would no longer be published.  

They had recently published an article by Michael Basset, which met with criticism and was withdrawn from their online publication under instructions from the paper’s owners as ‘not fit to publish’ – this has since been published on Waikanae Watch (‘New Zealand’s modern cultural cringe… racism on a grand scale’).  This was followed by instructions to the Editor to forward any such material higher up the organisation’s chain of control for vetting, establishing a censorship system that removed the choice from the Editor (destroying any semblance of editorial independence and freedom of the press).  My article was also deemed ‘not fit to publish’ — he had the decency and courtesy to phone with the news.  

He mentioned that, as one of the few papers ready to carry divergent points of view, they receive letters from all parts of New Zealand.  Peter Jackson is well known to many of us as an editor (one of very few) who will publish informed opinion that challenges the current dominant and dogmatic conventional wisdom.  But he has been nobbled.  We must speak elsewhere, and that article is presented as a companion to this note.

Apartheid, New Zealand style

by John Robinson

This article has been judged not fit to publish by the management of the New Zealand Herald, when overturning the decision of the Editor of the Northland Age to put it in the paper that he (supposedly) edits. 

Acceptance of New Zealand law demands a belief in race, together with a willingness to accept apartheid with separation into members of “the Maori race” and other New Zealanders.  Much of New Zealand’s law and system of government are based on that division.

This is clearly and unequivocally stated, in the Māori Affairs Amendment Act 1974, where a Maori is defined as “a person of the Maori race of New Zealand; and includes any descendant of such a person”.

Based on that definition, we have separation into two different peoples – with special seats in Parliament, special wards in much local Government, separate rights such as access to the Waitangi Tribunal, and much more.  We are two people.

That definition makes no sense unless those who wrote it, and those who follow it, believe in the existence of the Maori race.  That is, a belief, as members of a cult, in the outmoded and disgraceful concept of race and racial separation which is written into law.  There can be no clearer definition of national racism, with the resulting apartheid in treatment and rights.  

At times of crisis (terrorist attack, pandemic), the Prime Minister has proclaimed, with a straight face, “we are one people”, “we are all in this together”.  What a massive contradiction!  In this topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass land, those who have called for equality as truly one people have been labelled ‘racist’ – an evident contradiction fundamental to this distorted ideology of race.  But that belief – that racism is needed to overcome racism – is so deeply ensconced that no logical argument or set of facts moves supporters of difference and the Treaty industry away from their dogma.

What then of the Treaty of Waitangi?  

First, it must be said, if some national document or custom says we are two races and proclaims racism, it must be repudiated.  No nation should accept inherited racism.  That was not so in South Africa, where apartheid was faced and overcome.  Nor in the USA where much progress has been made, and is continuing, with an ongoing call for equality – not separate rights.

The Treaty of Waitangi presents no such problem; it is a strong, unequivocal statement of equal rights, of one people, all as British subjects.  There is no separation in the Treaty, no race.  Indeed, there is no ‘Maori’.  Rather there is reference to ‘maori’, the common people, all of us.

One positive step would be to turn away from the recent rewriting of the Treaty, back to the original and our common citizenship in a unified nation.  And then to work through the unravelling of apartheid, ending separate Maori seats in Parliament and separate wards in local government, closing the Waitangi Tribunal (which after 42 increasingly disruptive years is well past its used-by date), and removing race-based laws.  

In parallel, historical writings and education must be freed from the straightjacket of distorted politically-directed accounts, so that we can all see the glorious story of the meeting of peoples, with successes to celebrate as well as conflicts to remember (among Maori before 1840 and between different movements after the formation of the nation).

Apartheid as it was practiced in South Africa until the early 1990s: South Africa abolished it while NZ adopted the same principle.