Commentary by Michael Bassett:

National, Labour and He Puapua

At last some discussion about He Puapua. The document has been hatched in secret at the behest of the Labour Government and it had to be prized out of Te Puni Kokiri recently using the Official Information Act. Commissioned by Nanaia Mahuta, He Puapua was written by nine people, most of them with European surnames. It is a plan to introduce racial segregation into every aspect of our public service. It would divide our society into Maori who form 16% of the population on which 50% of political power would devolve by 2040, while the other 170 ethnicities in this country who constitute 84% of the population would share the rest. The 16% would enjoy their privileged position because they possess a drop or more of Maori blood. Without that drop, the rest of us are destined to become a rather crowded group of second-class citizens.

Mahuta carefully selected her group of advisers to produce a vision of how New Zealand could be brought into compliance with the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. When the report came to ministers in 2019 it wasn’t released publicly, probably because the Labour government realized that it might be unpopular. No mention was made of He Puapua at the time of the 2020 election. Instead, once re-elected, ministers seem to have decided to implement its separatist recommendations in dribs and drabs. Mahuta has given us Maori wards in local authorities, over-riding public opinion, and shortly Andrew Little will establish a separate Maori Health Authority. It will exercise power in the area of Maori health and also enjoy some rights – yet unexplained – to interfere in health decisions relating to the rest of us. He Puapua proposes separate court and justice systems and contains a timetable for the establishment of a Maori Parliament. We know, too, that the government intends to inflict a disgracefully one-sided history curriculum on our schools, pushing the notion that only Maori values have been important to New Zealand’s history, and that the values of the colonizers who brought reading, writing, arithmetic and a system of justice to a country ravaged by the musket wars in the early Nineteenth Century are of no historical importance.

Why is New Zealand concerning itself about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with its clauses about freedom and equal treatment? In 2007 New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United States voted against the Declaration, and only came around to joining up (with qualifications) several years later. New Zealand joined because of political pressure on John Key’s government from the Maori Party. In 2007 each of the four opponents of the Declaration possessed well-developed human rights guarantees in their constitutional structures that protected all minorities, including their indigenous people. Moreover, there was quite a strong feeling that Maori, who beat Europeans to settle New Zealand by only 400 to 500 years, were hard pressed to argue they were indigenous. Certainly, they didn’t compare with Aborigines who had arrived in Australia 60,000 years ago, nor some of the first nations in other parts of the world. What is more, Maori had the security of a Treaty with New Zealand’s colonizers, Article 3 of which contained a guarantee that the Crown would “protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand (ie the Maori) and will give them the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England.” No other colonized people anywhere in the world received such a guarantee. Helen Clark’s government seems, quite rightly in my opinion, to have decided that signing up to the UN Declaration couldn’t further protect Maori rights.

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Commentary from John Robinson of Waikanae:

It is important to recognise that New Zealand has become a racially divided country.  An apartheid system of two unequal races is in place and is continually being strengthened.  All New Zealanders, of all political beliefs, should welcome the suggestion that the National Party may fight separatism and assert equality.  This is vitally important and even a socialist (such as myself) should support the move.

It will be a big job to turn this monster around, calling for firm statesmanship, standing above the immediate political fray, with a recognition of both the past sensible actions and the wrongs of both major parties. 

Thus, the Electoral commission was right to call for an end to Maori seats and National was right to support that, Labour was right to bring in a modest Foreshore and Seabed legislation and National was right to criticize the remaining differences, Labour was right to refuse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Labour was wrong to extend the remit of the Waitangi Tribunal and to increase the number of Maori seats, National was wrong to bring in an extreme Foreshore and Seabed legislation and to sign up to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  A clear admission of that latter wrong will clear the air and provide an assurance that Collins really means what she says.  That is essential, or we will all understand this to be just another empty political speech.

Please, force me to vote National next time.

John Robinson

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