Friday, January 29, 2010
Mike Butler: Mr Key and the flag of disintegration
“Tino rangatiratanga”, which has become the most contentious phrase from the Maori language text of the Treaty of Waitangi, has become something of a rallying cry for proponents of Maori sovereignty, or Maori self-determination.
The phrase "tino rangatiratanga", that appears in article two of the Maori text, was translated literally in 1865 as meaning “entire supremacy”, and in 1869 as “full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession”. The phrase referred to ownership of lands, settlements and personal property.
The Maori sovereignty version of article two maintains that the Maori text assures signatories that their "tino rangatiratanga", or “unqualified chieftainship” will remain undisturbed, along with the continued possession of their lands and other treasures.
Once "tino rangatiratanga" was regarded as referring to sovereignty separate from “full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession”, the argument that sovereignty was never relinquished was possible.
Mr Key’s decision to fly the flag was definitely a nod towards coalition partner the Maori Party, which, according to the first sentence of its constitution, “is born of the dreams and aspirations of tangata whenua to achieve self-determination for whanau, hapu and iwi within their own land”.
Maori Party MPs were noted for their courteous and reasonable promotion of Maori sovereignty aspirations until publication of Hone Harawira’s expletive-laden tirade against white New Zealanders sent a racist ripple through the realm.
The Maori sovereignty movement wants “total control of their economy (and) of their land”, according to another activist, Tame Iti, who was among the 17 people arrested on October 15, 2007, in a series of raids under the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Firearms Act. Police documents allege Iti was preparing for an Irish Republican Army style war to establish an independent state on traditionally Tuhoe land.
There are no indications of how a separate Tuhoe state would be funded. Maybe on-going support from the New Zealand government is assumed.
The Maori sovereignty movement probably involves few people. Eighty percent of 1200 submissions opted for the tino rangatiratanga flag to represent Maori people. Another issue that got people out into the streets, the foreshore and seabed protest in 2004, brought an estimated 15,000 protesters to parliament.
Assuming the foreshore and seabed protesters all backed Maori sovereignty, 15,000 is a tiny minority considering that 285,000 signatures, or 10 percent of total voters, are required to force a referendum.
The drive for Maori self-determination finds expression numerous separate Maori entities within state organisations, such as Maori units in prisons. There is a call for a separate Maori prison system. Already substantial social services funding is devolved to tribal bodies, and a Whanau Ora separate Maori welfare system, proposed by the Maori Party, is about to be tried out.
The Maori sovereignty ideology has raised expectations in certain sectors and has triggered a number of highly irritating low-level incidents.
A Maori sovereignty defence was being used almost daily in New Zealand courts, according to the Sunday Star Times, May 16, 2004, prompting a call to Parliament at that time to address the issue.
Activist Sue Nikora, who proclaimed herself prime minister of the Maori government, in 2005 sent out "security officers" to collect rent from Gisborne moteliers. She claimed that the Treaty of Waitangi gave her the right to have a separate government, according to TVNZ. Nikora estimated businesses and residential landowners in Gisborne should be paying her "government" $1.9-million every week in rent, claiming the land belongs to her group. One of her "security officers" was arrested.
Calls for Maori sovereignty created an opportunity for fraudsters. The appearance of cheap passports in the name of the Maori Party prompted the Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, to warn the public to beware, according to Scoop, the online news service.
Global acceptance of the principle of national self-determination has increased the number of conflicts within states, as sub-groups seek greater self-determination and even full secession, and as their conflicts within groups, with other groups, and with their respective governments, become violent, according to theorist Martin Griffiths of Macquarie University, writing in 2003.
Mr Key’s unilateral decision on the flag is one example of how the current prime minister can make sudden changes that circumvent the process of representative democracy and which hugely promote the agenda of a tiny minority. By helping advance Maori sovereignty goals, Mr Key is giving approval to the increased disintegration of New Zealand society.
The Treaty of Waitangi, Claudia Orange, Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1987.
Sunday Star Times, May 16, 2004. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-12020815.html
“Behind the Rise of Maori Sovereignty”, Phil Duncan and Grant Cronin, New Interventions, Vol.9 No.2, 1999. http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Newint/Maori.html
Scoop, Thursday, 18 June 2009, 9:37 am http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0906/S00230.htmMartin Griffiths, Self-determination, International Society And World Order, Macquarie University Law Journal, 1, 2003.
at 7:52 PM