by Dr John Robinson

The Kapiti Coast District Council Long Term Plan 2021-41 is a time to consider where we are going as a community, to reflect on what sort of people we are, and who we wish to be.

·         We are one people.

·         We should act as one people.

·         We should plan to be one people.

But that is an aspiration only; it is not the reality.

NZ is drifting.  No longer is there the aim for equality and inclusiveness.  Instead, we are consciously and explicitly divided by race.  While there is no such thing as race, that description it is used here because the concept is basic to NZ law, where “A Maori is a member of the Maori race”.  This underlies the claim of a separate people, with separate rights, and separate standing in law.

This division into two peoples, today and tomorrow, is made abundantly clear in the intentions and in the presentation of the Plan.  It is emphasised dramatically in the two-page spread in both the Kapiti News and the Kapiti Observer.  Equal prominence is given to the message from the Mayor (right-hand page) and the message from the three recognised iwi, the Mana Whenua (left-hand page), who speak authoritatively about their intentions.

The dual power is made clear by the talk of partnership between Council (all of us) and these iwi (a separate group amongst us).  In the Plan, we find the call that “Mana Whenua and Council have a mutually mana-enhancing partnership”, with: “The first community outcome highlighting the importance of the Mana Whenua-Council relationship supports and contributes to all the other outcomes.”  This division is given a central, key role.

Thus, this group of Maori, whose ancestors killed and drove out the then inhabitants of the Kapiti region in the 1820s before carrying out murderous attacks on the South Island from 1828 on, have equal rights with us all in electing the Council (right-hand page) and significant additional rights as Mana Whenua (left-hand page) – because of that past history of bloodshed.

This is distressing and harmful.  In the first half of my life (around 1940-1980), I saw great efforts in many nations to act according to ideals born of the Eighteenth Century Age of Enlightenment, the USA Declaration of Independence and the French slogan (freedom, equality, fraternity), to destroy racism and to become one people.  That was the aim of Martin Luther King with his desire for equality and unity in the USA, and the impetus of the worldwide struggle that fought apartheid in South Africa, to bring success when apartheid legislation was repealed in 1991.

I live in a Kapiti that has chosen the opposite path.  This is wrong.

·         Stop the division that is shown so clearly.  Remove all statements, and actions, of division and partnership.  Members of the three iwi, Ngati Toa, Te Atiawa and Ngati Raukawa, should take their place in a unified community as citizens, equal with us all.