By Bruce Moon

Well, our Jacinta Ruru has certainly done quite nicely for herself: a professorship in law, an award in the New Year Honours and a nice little article, with a photograph, in Waatea News for 1 January 2022.

In reality, mixed ancestry

So there she is, “from Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui, and Ngāti Manapoto [sic]”. Yet her photograph shows that she unequivocally has significant European heritage. Indeed one might reasonably assume that it is her dominant ancestry, but it is not even mentioned in her stated lineage. Strange, given that a simple DNA test could reveal a raft of interesting ancestral information.

So why does she see herself as only a part person? Does she, perhaps, mention only her Maori ancestry because she sees some advantage in that??

The battle for Treaty recognition

She has, it would appear from her reported words, “an opportunity and a responsibility to continue the battle for recognition of Te Tiriti and the building of a truly just and fair society in Aotearoa New Zealand.”  Well, that’s a lot to be on anybody’s plate! 

 “recognition of Te Tiriti”?  Well if “recognition” is important to her, why does she not use the name of our country that the ‘Tiriti’ uses instead of the fake name “Aotearoa”?   (As any reader will discover, the name for our country in it is a fair rendition, using sounds from the Ngapuhi dialect, of “New Zealand”, our country’s true name since 1643 – one of the oldest in the Pacific!)

Indeed prior to then, the islands had no unified identity, they were simply occupied by various Maori tribes, some of whom she asserts to be ancestors.  If anybody had used “Aotearoa” in 1840, the Williams, seventeen years resident in the country, would surely have used it in their translation.  Yet there is no record anywhere that I know of, of anybody complaining at the time of its omission!!

So, Jacinta, if you want to “continue the battle for recognition of Te Tiriti” which you say is on your agenda, “Aotearoa” should go straight into your wastepaper bin!

Very specific Treaty Articles

But “to continue the battle for recognition of Te Tiriti”.  Well now, that is very, very curious since in essence, as you will see when you read it, “Te Tiriti” comprised two principal articles.  

  • By Article first, the chiefs ceded sovereignty completely and forever to the Queen, as their recorded words at the time make clear beyond a shadow of doubt, though there is a legion of deniers, many of whom are lady professors just like you!  
  • By Article third “[a]ll the rights will be given to [all the Maoris of New Zealand] the same as … to the people of England”. The same you will note!  (I paraphrase slightly the Young official translation of 1869.) 

And — Article second, subsumed by Article third, merely granted the right to own property to all the people of New Zealand (tangata katoa o Nu Tirani).  And that was all done and dusted in May 1840 when Hobson, with the backing of the vast majority of Maori chiefs, formally declared British sovereignty over the whole country.

So just what sort of “battle” do you have to “continue” to attain “recognition of Te Tiriti”?

Governments granting special rather than equal rights

Flagrantly to the contrary, government after government has granted special rights to people of part-Maori descent, and this has accelerated under the present government of Jacinda Ardern. 

 An enormously expensive “Maori Health Authority” is just one flagrant example.  The disgraceful example of He Puapua, deceitfully concealed from us until after the last election, its intention to give part-Maori interests virtual control of our precious water resources, by common law the property of all the people of New Zealand; specifically part-Maori representation on local bodies, our right of rejection cynically removed by legislation at record speed, the continuing granting to part-Maoris of special rights and privileges. 

The list goes on and on in blatant contempt of the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

The same rights for all New Zealanders

To avoid any doubt, let us be entirely clear that the Treaty of Waitangi created and so recognised unity of rights for all New Zealanders.  

It did not differentiate our rights on any basis of race, class, education, social or cultural behaviour or any other notion. That such a simple and honourable respect for people could become so distorted is frankly appalling! 

So there you are, Jacinta. “[T]he battle for recognition of Te Tiriti” which you declare to be your intention, as part of “a wider group fighting for law reform” is a “battle” for the destruction of democracy in New Zealand as these recent examples show. The present government, like many of its predecessors, treats the Treaty with contempt.  This is the tragedy of New Zealand. 

Additionally, “lonely” at the University of Otago which you say you were in your early days?  I must take your word for that but I am entitled to ask you, “why?”  Seventy-five years ago and for three years, my college room-mate there was a lad from Turakina who was clearly of part-Maori descent.  Yet he was never lonely.  Like all of us, he got on with his life, was well-liked by his colleagues and an achiever. 

It was what he was as an individual, not one part of his ancestry which mattered.  We remained in touch for more than sixty years.  There is surely a lesson in that.

Bruce Moon, Nelson