by Pete North

I came here as an immigrant 44 years ago, and long ago became a New Zealand citizen.  I was part of a generation of Kiwis that spoke out against the ethnic separatism taking place in South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s.  Never in my wildest dreams did I envisage that the country I chose to immigrate to, would four decades later move towards ethnic separatism of its own kind. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said things so well.  In saying, “We may all have come in different ships, but we’re in the same boat now,” he referenced America, but the same issue applies to NZ.  Does it really matter to us in the 21st century, who came here first?  Because we all came here from somewhere else.  Being the first immigrant in line does not make Maori indigenous.  Nor should it grant some kind of first-class citizenship, while the rest of us who came later are relegated to 2nd class citizens.  All citizens should have the same status and rights as all others, that is what citizenship is all about isn’t it?

Martin Luther King Jr. also said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”  New Conservative believes all children in NZ should have the opportunity to grow up realising that they can be and do whatever they choose, by determining to live a life of hope, aspiration, integrity, hard work, responsibility and compassion for others. Otherwise, some children with varying degrees of partial Maori ethnic heritage might choose instead to rely on special benefits and privileges.

The founding document of NZ, the Treaty of Waitangi, gives us three critical principles to be the foundation upon which our nation can exist and progress into the future.

The first principle in Article 1 establishes the governance of the nation under the sovereignty of the Queen.  Recent attempts to redefine what was meant by the Maori word Kawanatanga, that it meant partnership and not sovereignty, have led to a situation that some in our country want to utilise to rewrite history.  If there was no Maori dictionary in place in 1840, how is it that people over 180 years later can somehow re-interpret with definitive accuracy what was really meant?  And even if sovereignty was not given, if that were the case, the British crown understood it to be sovereignty and took it.  Global history is full of invasions, wars, occupations, ethnic mingling & mixing.  None of us can rewrite history so why would we ever attempt to?  Are those of us who live here today meant to feel guilty and liable for the actions and language interpretations of 180 years ago?  I don’t see other nations giving land back to the indigenous people, much less the first-in-line immigrants.  This is not happening globally, and it is ridiculous that in 21st century NZ we even contemplate doing so.

The second principle in Article 2 guarantees the rights over property and the protection over such.  Clearly our history shows that this aspect of the Treaty was breached and led to inequities.  I am very proud to be part of a nation that has overwhelmingly sought (regardless of political leanings) to redress those injustices of the past, while also addressing the consequential inequitable outcomes from such.  The problems arise when we have to consider when is enough going to be enough?  Treaty settlements continue to drag on and on, and there has developed a culture of grievance that has disempowered many people.  We need to see these matters fully and finally resolved so that all New Zealanders can move forward into the future aspiring to be one people in one nation.  Regarding the inequitable consequences, these should be addressed, as they are for any situation, based on need alone and not ethnicity.

The third principle in Article 3 gave Maori equality, with full rights and privileges of British subjects.  New Conservative has campaigned continually on the concept of equality of all, yet somehow we are continuously labelled racist for doing so.  We do not agree with the re-interpretation of Article 1 into partnership and co-governance.  Instead we uphold the historical truth of Crown sovereignty, and this apparently somehow makes us racist and against Maori people.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I suggest we are both realistic and compassionate.  We agree the injustices done should be fully addressed under Article 2.   We also care for and respect every immigrant who has come here, whatever their country of origin, whatever their ethnicity, and whatever date they came here. 

The recent public access to the document He Puapua written in 2019 is very concerning for a number of reasons.  Firstly it shows a clear plan in place to achieve co-governance by Maori by the year 2040.  The very concept of co-governance being workable in any nation is incomprehensible.  Co-governance seeks to enshrine separatism based on ethnicity.  Secondly, it is called co-governance but in the text what it really says is that the rest of us have to be given permission for this or that by Maori. In the health reform being proposed it says that Maori can veto how the health of those who are not Maori can be addressed.  Is this what we all want?  I think not.  And that is not even co-governance.

Thirdly, the current Labour Government has held this document back from the public since it was finished in November 2019.  One wonders why it was not released prior to the 2020 election.  One wonders why it has not been released by the Government at all, only coming to public scrutiny thanks to being released under the Official Information Act.  And more recently, the Prime Minister has stated that He Puapua shouldn’t have been released in case taxpayers didn’t understand it.  Peter Williams of Magic Talk says, “The sheer arrogance of that statement is frankly breathtaking.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. yet again, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  Join us in speaking up.  Join us in standing strong for equal rights and privileges for all NZ citizens.  Join us for keeping New Zealand one nation and one people.

(Pete North is CEO of the New Conservative Party –