by Christopher Ruthe

As readers know, New Zealand is in the midst of a debate concerning the basis of our constitutional arrangements and whether the so called principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) require a system of co-governance in NZ and whether the law should continue to be applied equally to all residents. 

The latest round in this debate comes from the comments of Jason Ake, described as “a well known and respected Māori broadcaster and an executive member of the Māori radio iwi network, Te Whakaruruhau”, and a former Radio NZ Board member.

His comments were about the then Minister of Justice Kiri Allan and her arrest for driving offenses. She resigned. Rather than see this as an instance of a mis-judgement by an individual leading to inevitable consequences, Mr Ake sees it through the lens of racial difference. 

First: The resignation of the Minister of Justice had nothing to do with the minister’s illegal driving — rather it was a conspiracy of hatred against a Māori MP (!) His words “There will be a cohort throwing their hands in feigned disbelief while quietly smirking that they contributed in some way to the palaver. When there’s blood in the water, the sharks circle, and they’re more than happy to digest every last morsel and watch the bones sink to the depths. It is a blood sport.”

Second. He identified two distinct groups in NZ and said the real crime here was not Ms Allan’s driving but “we [Māori] live longer, but we continue to lag behind Pākehās [sic]. That’s the real crime here, and much of it is borne out.”

Third.  It is legally abhorrent “that we as Māori must conform.” Requirement to conform to the law  is described as an “ideological premise”. Ms Allan failed to conform to the traffic law. The requirement of NZ traffic laws for all drivers to obey them i.e. conform. If subjecting Maori to the requirement to conform to the law is another form of oppression then the whole structure of law and legal processes become an issue.  One comment Ms Allan made about the claims she abused staff was “Where I come from we do things differently.”

Some are certain to view his claim that Maori have to conform to the laws is a crime to be illogical — or at least somewhat anarchical. Perhaps one should ask Mr Ake, would he expect a non-Maori minister of Justice to be fired by the Prime Minister? Was it really only because of the cohorts baying for blood that Ms Allan decided, of her own volition to resign?