Friday, March 18, 2011
Tom Johnson: The Death of Democracy?
It is a fact that, “since the ending of the Cold War, ethno-cultural conflicts have become the most common source of political violence in the world, and show no sign of abating”, (Kymlicka, 1995, p.1). If the democratic rights of all New Zealanders are not being placed in jeopardy, why without any reference to the electorate does the Prime Minister grant Maori separatists and sovereignty advocates the right firstly to fly the Tino Rangitiratanga or Maori Separatist Flag on Waitangi Day? This seemly innocuous move by Key unfortunately allows through its symbolism the establishment of an artefact which endorses and triggers internalised values and norms that are manifestations of deeper cultural assumptions - in this case Maori sovereignty. The claim for Maori sovereignty ignores the fact that Maoris ceded sovereignty to the Crown in 1840. Governor Hobson’s famous declaration of: “he iwi ko tahi tatou” (now we are one people) is ignored by the separatist. I will not accept the implication that my European forbears were so stupid they did not know what they were signing, and yet the Treatyist Maori wants me to accept their contemporary interpretation and claim of retaining their sovereignty.
Why did the Prime Minister surreptitiously send Dr Pita Sharples to the United Nations to sign up to the United Nations Charter on Indigenous Rights? His claim that being a signatory is only aspirational ignores the fish hooks in the clauses of the charter, which will come back to haunt future generations in New Zealand. The signing was immediately welcomed as a great day for Maoridom by former Maori Land Court judge Sir Edward Durie, as he considered the clauses would ultimately find their way into common law. Why is the government pushing through the Foreshore and Seabed Act knowing that an overwhelming majority of all the submissions made to the Select Committee hearing were opposed to the Bill as is a predominance of New Zealanders? It is obvious Key and the National Party has a hidden agenda.
Affirming the United Nation’s Declaration on the rights of indigenous people is an example of this usurpation of democratic rights; no public debate and no public mandate. In other words a sell-out to the Maori Party. The hidden agenda is slowly surfacing. Recent New Zealand Herald editorials on Maori sovereignty may be part of the propaganda. It certainly appears that way. Does the Government have its eyes on the massive Treaty reparations paid out to Iwi. Is Key a promoter of separate development – Maori Sovereignty? Or is the motivation to become involved as a government somehow tied in with the massive tax payer funded reparations to Maori Iwi? Is there some grand plan for investment in the New Zealand economy? The Treaty “gravy train” is a disgrace. Little if any of the reparations paid out historically has trickled down to those in most need.
Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata’s excellent paper on “People Power or Ethnic Elites” draws attention to how there has been a shift in recent years from focusing on Treaty grievances and reparations to indigenous group rights to property and constitutional recognition. As she points out this will create a permanent gap between a small Iwi elite and the majority of New Zealanders of all ethnicities.
In spite of her comments it would appear that the separatist vision of ”two nations in one state” an ideology that seems to prevail in our universities and government institutions as the orthodoxy is also the objective of the current government. If so why in a democracy haven’t the public been told and given the opportunity to reject or accept this approach. Willie Jackson in his speech to ACT in the weekend tried to convince the Auckland audience that Maori were entitled to ''special treatment'' under the version of Treaty that ''99 per cent'' of chiefs signed up to. It is a sad reality that forty years of historical revisionism and politically biased curricula in our schools have lead to such distortions of reality. It has always seemed incongruous to me that when Don Brash in his 2004 Orewa speech advocated one set of laws for all, he was pilloried for playing the race card, and it is equally ironic at a time in North Africa where people are fighting for their democratic rights our own government is abusing them.
at 10:51 PM