It was surprising to see "elected iwi leader" Haami Piripi get rattled and descend into threats and name-calling in a letter to the Northland Age over Muriel Newman's article published in that newspaper calling into question an iwi leader’s demand for dedicated seats on the Northland council instead of being prepared to campaign for them like everyone else.
Piripi’s name-calling included the words and phrases “extremist”, “right-wing mongrelism”, and “barbaric”, and as he got increasingly carried away, he implied questioning a demand for dedicated race-based seats were “weeds in our democratic garden” that would make New Zealand the “Zimbabwe of the Pacific”.
A veiled threat from bully-boy Piripi was phrased thus: “If she thinks we in the Hiku are trouble, wait till she bumps into the Ngapuhi.” But Piripi has a few misconceptions of his own, such as when he writes:
The first misconception that Newman proselytises about is the notion that Maori, as original inhabitants of this country, have either never had or been completely deprived of any historical sovereign interests we as iwi have held in this country.It may come as a shock to Piripi that all the Treaty of Waitangi says is that the Queen is sovereign and Maori are her subjects, with the rights of subjects, including possession of property.
Ngapuhi are currently spinning a fairy tale that their 1840 forebears never ceded sovereignty, but it is all there in black and white in both the treaty and Te Tiriti. What is more, the eyewitness account of the February 5 debate showed that the chiefs clearly understood what they were giving up, and willingly did so for the benefits that would and have eventuated.
Possibly the thing that rattled Piripi most was Judge Anthony Willy’s conclusions that there is nothing in the treaty that warrants inclusion in a written constitution, and that the treaty has always been honoured.
Piripi tries to support his “special place for Maori” argument by quoting two lists of treaty principles. I have seen a further 11 lists of such principles, none of which appear in the treaty. The Court of Appeal list has six principles that can be summarised as right to govern, good faith, not restrict government, protection, duty to remedy breaches as treaty partner, and consultation.
The interesting thing about claimant types like Piripi is that three principles (protection, remedy breaches, and consultation) are constantly cited, two are ignored, and one, that is the one about not authorising unreasonable restrictions on the right of a duly elected government to follow its chosen policy, is repeatedly breached -- through High Court injunctions by the Maori Council.
He also quotes “treaty is always speaking” Eddie Durie as a paramount authority on constitutional partnership. Yes, this is the same Eddie Durie who this year brought the Crown Forestry Rental Trust to a screaming halt while he seeks a High Court ruling on conflict of interest. (1)
This is the Eddie Durie married to Donna Hall who defended conflict-of-interest allegations before the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal for allegedly acting for the vendor, purchaser and lender during a 2007 central North Island land deal. (2)
Piripi appears to believe that the Waitangi Tribunal is an impartial commission of inquiry. This is difficult to accept when each and every tribunal report spins a tricky argument advocating for tribal interests.
Piripi made a career out of pushing Maori interests in the public service and now it appears he wants to impose his inflated ethnocentric worldview on everyone else. This worldview manifests as he waxes lyrical over how the wicked white coloniser has finally come to his/her senses over Maori culture:
In more recent and enlightened years, New Zealand has swung its bow on a course more consistent with partnership recognising for the first time perhaps in our colonial history the inherent value of Maori culture and history. Since forever this has been historically limited to tourist or musical novelties but even within these limited environs the value of Maori culture and indigeneity has hydrofoiled our Aotearoa New Zealand presence on to the world stage.He accuses councils of failing to meet the needs of Maori and iwi, but show me anything new rich iwi Maori have done to turn around WINZ Maori negative social indicators.
Iwi leaders like Haami Piripi and Rangitane Marsden, whose demands for dedicated council seats sparked this debate, point to WINZ Maori poverty as evidence of a need for more money, and then make sure that they control the money, which in turn helps make iwi leaders richer.
1. Ngapuhi call for forestry trust to get act together, http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/213936/ngapuhi-call-for-forestry-trust-to-get-act-together
2. Donna Hall denies being in land deal for big fees - lawyer Melody Brandon | Tuesday April 03, 2012 http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/donna-hall-denies-being-land-deal-big-fees-lawyer-mb-115727