by David Farrar
Don Brash quotes different politicians on the Treaty.
David Lange gave a seminal speech in 2000 in which he said “democratic government can accommodate Maori political aspiration in many ways. It can allocate resources in ways which reflect the particular interests of Maori people. It can delegate authority, and allow the exercise of degrees of Maori autonomy. What it cannot do is acknowledge the existence of a separate sovereignty. As soon as it does that, it isn’t a democracy. We can have a democratic form of government or we can have indigenous sovereignty. They can’t coexist and we can’t have them both.”
And Sir Apirana Ngata:
Apirana Ngata, perhaps the greatest Maori leader we have seen since 1840, asserted in 1940 on the centenary of the signing of the Treaty that “Clause 1 of the Treaty handed over the mana and the sovereignty of New Zealand to Queen Victoria and her descendants forever, that is the outstanding fact today. That but for the shield of the sovereignty handed over to Her Majesty and her descendants I doubt whether there would be a free Maori race in New Zealand today.”
Winston Peters has often ridiculed the notion that Queen Victoria, head of the greatest empire the world had seen to that point, would have been willing to go into partnership with hundreds of mainly illiterate Maori chiefs whom she had not even met.
In my view, the meaning of the Treaty is very clear: it involved chiefs ceding sovereignty to the Crown, having their property rights protected, and being guaranteed the same rights and responsibilities as the citizens of England. It was an extraordinarily enlightened document for its time – indeed, for any time. Nothing like it happened in Australia, or North America.
It was an enlightened document, but it is being twisted into an anti-democratic document.