Sunday, December 16, 2012
Gone are the days when New Zealanders of Maori ancestry could fax in a claim noting an historical grievance allegedly suffered and wait for the payment to arrive. One such claim has produced a settlement worth $11.7-million negotiated between the Crown and the Picton tribe, Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu. This deal prompted a series of questions from reader Doug Howard.
While such settlements are publicly notified by cursory press release, details can be difficult to dig out if you don’t know where to look. It is helpful for the public to know what the claim was.
at 12:47 PM
Thursday, December 13, 2012
The proposed constitution for Egypt contains a good deal of contentious material and it will be interesting to see how it fares in the referendum, scheduled for this weekend. As readers of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research know, there are also constitutional projects afoot here in New Zealand. There are interesting parallels between the two.
In the Egyptian case, and in the context of a ‘virtuous revolution which has unified all Egyptians’, there is an early affirmation of the object of the exercise. This is to ‘build a modern democratic state’, in which, ‘Equality and equal opportunities are established for all citizens, men and women’. But all is not as it seems. As in Orwell’s celebrated story, some (animals) are more equal than others. In this case the ‘more equal’ are specifically Islamic and masculine. On the face of it, there is to be ‘no discrimination’ between men and women (this is in the Preamble); but what are we to make of Article 10, ‘The State shall ….enable the reconciliation between the duties of a women toward her family and her work’? This seems clearly to envisage a restricted status for women, of a kind that, lamentably, is to be found around much of the Islamic world. More generally, there is limited constitutional protection (and much threat) for minorities such as the Coptic Christians, and any who desire to live in a modern, secular state.
at 5:17 PM
Monday, December 10, 2012
The Waitangi Tribunal’s recent finding that Northland’s Ngapuhi tribes did not cede sovereignty to the Crown by signing the Treaty of Waitangi is arrant nonsense that deserves to be mercilessly deconstructed.
It appears the Tribunal uncritically accepted Ngapuhi’s assertion their ancestors believed Governor Hobson’s authority would apply only to white settlers, and that Maori would continue to be ruled, tribal-style, by their chiefs.
These claims are not borne out by the historical record. As outgoing Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, observed in his 1922 farewell address: "In the Kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King, and he that does not know his own history is at the mercy of every lying windbag."
at 4:46 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2012
A report commissioned by grievance specialist Titewhai Harawira and released last month claimed that that Ngapuhi did not sign away their sovereignty to the British Crown and did not cede governance to the Crown either. The report says chiefs wanted the Crown to provide a governor who would take charge of its unruly British subjects living here.
at 9:01 PM
The saying "give someone an inch (and they'll take a mile)"used to mean that if you allow some people a small amount of freedom or power they will see you as weak and try to take a lot more. The Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill that is currently winding its way through parliament shows why this saying is used.
The interesting thing about this bill is that the1992 pardon of Mokomoko, a Bay of Plenty chief executed for his role in the killing of a Lutheran minister, is now being used as evidence of a treaty breach and a basis for compensation.
at 8:44 PM
Friday, December 7, 2012
Governments around the world are being dragged, in some cases kicking and screaming, into doing something about their budget deficits. The difficulty is that the public will neither pay more tax nor countenance any cuts to entitlements and services. Hence, recent state budgets have been using euphemisms such as ‘efficiency dividends’ and ‘trimming the fat,’ while senior politicians rush to reassure electorates that public service job losses will not affect frontline services.
However, such cloak-and-dagger methods can take you only so far, especially if (like the United States) you’ve got a trillion-dollar hole to fill. Perhaps, the thinking goes, where dissembling fails envy might succeed. After all, everyone knows that the super-rich are rorting the tax system; all we need to do is raise their taxes so they pay ‘their fair share’ and everything will be OK, right?
at 9:45 PM
Unfortunately Christmas is a time when stress levels often become elevated, dangerous situations arise and physical abuse eventuates. Oh of course he didn’t mean to do it and he promises never to do it again and after all it’s really out of character for him. Yes, its amazing how people can often justify almost anything—even murder. The abuse of women and children should never be brushed aside because these instances usually have a tendency to escalate. If a guy will hit you once, he will hit you again and it will probably be worse next time because he knows he got away with it last time.
at 3:37 PM
I started hearing about income inequality a few years ago in the main stream media, after a book called 'The Spirit Level' was published. It was mainly left wing commentators that were banging on about it and my first thoughts were… "here we go again, rob from the rich to give to the poor, bloody socialists".
at 3:24 PM
Monday, December 3, 2012
It’s not very often that Jews and Muslims present a united front, but they did so in
recently when a court held that the circumcision of baby boys for reasons other
than medical was illegal. It’s not very often that Muslims and Christians sing
from the same song-sheet either, but they did so in their submissions to the
Select Committee on the Marriage Amendment Bill, when both the Federation of Islamic
Associations of NZ and various Christian groups presented submissions that in
some instances would have looked like carbon copies. But we are more accustomed
to hearing about Muslims getting in hot water in Western countries over such things
as the female veil and forced marriages. And then there were the Germany riots. Jews too
occasionally find themselves falling foul of Western norms, such as the debate
over shechita (ritual animal slaughter) in NZ not long ago. Sydney
A common defence is that of the freedom of religion. But freedom of religious expression is a qualified right, not an absolute right. It does not confer any right to break the laws of the country in which one lives. As with all rights, clear legal boundaries need to be put around religious freedom. And this is where the basic problem lies: which law is to define those boundaries?
at 8:08 AM