Monday, May 18, 2015

Mike Butler: Marketing treaty myths to migrants

Auckland Regional Migrant Services, an organisation that insists on referring to "Aotearoa New Zealand" and regards the Treaty of Waitangi as "the founding document", runs workshops for new migrants facing questions about the Treaty of Waitangi at job interviews.

While employers in the private sector rarely require “cultural safety”, private businesses that contract to government agencies may be required to run an attitude scanner over applicants in the way that government employers do.

Political correctness is not just the butt of jokes – it is a very real requirement for anyone who may want to work for a government that runs on a new orthodoxy that could only survive using employees bullied into submission.

Reporter Maria Slade outlined the correct answers to basic questions in a report titled “Treaty tutoring for migrant jobseekers” published today. Unfortunately for Slade, a number of the so-called correct answers have no basis in fact. Here goes:

1/ What are two key differences between the English and Maori versions of the treaty?

Politically correct answer: In the English text Maori ceded sovereignty to the British. In the Maori version the British had the authority to govern their own settlers.

In the Maori version, Maori retained all of their existing powers and got to define what was important to them. In the English text the Queen guaranteed protection of Maori property rights, by implication with a British definition.

Factual answer: In both the English and Maori texts, all the treaty actually says is that the Queen is sovereign and Maori are her subjects, with the rights of subjects , including possession of property. Since then, moreover, the Queen and her successors have exercised sovereignty for over 175 years.

The official English text is much wordier than Te Tiriti, with 568 words compared with 480 words, and is written in an ornate style including the words “lands estates forests fisheries” in article 2 as well as the untranslatable concept “pre-emption”.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to support the conclusion the English text Maori ceded sovereignty to the British while in the Maori version the British had the authority to govern their own settlers.

2/ Which version is recognised as the primary text under international law and in a November 2014 Waitangi Tribunal finding?

Politically correct answer: The Maori text.

Factual answer: The Maori text.

We agree on this point. Governor Hobson used the Maori text has the basic document. Even the English text signed at Waikato Heads had a small printed Maori text attached to it with sealing wax to indicate that was the document being signed. In those days when paper was in short supply, a copy of an English text was used because there was no Maori text with enough space to take the signatures.

3/ Which language version did Governor William Hobson sign on February 6, 1840?

Politically correct answer: The Maori one. The English one wasn't formalised until May of that year.

Factual answer: The Maori text was not only signed on February 6, 1840, that was the document discussed, along with the original English draft. But the assertion that the “English one wasn't formalised until May of that year” is rubbish.

What passes as the official English text is the creation of Hobson’s secretary James Freeman who cobbled together discarded pieces of earlier drafts, mainly Busby’s February 3 draft.

Remember, the treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori. At the beginning of the big treaty discussion at Waitangi on February 5, 1840, Hobson read the English text and missionary Henry Williams read the Maori. Many people there were bilingual.

The contents of the treaty were debated. There was no protest that the two documents differed. It is clear that the final English draft was read along with Te Tiriti. Had Hobson mentioned the untranslatable word “pre-emption, and referred to “lands estates, forests fisheries” and read a document that was substantially longer, there would have been an outcry. There was no outcry.

The final draft of the treaty went missing. We have been led to believe that the official English text is the English text when it is not.

A treaty text in English that has just four words that differ from Te Tiriti was discovered in 1989. That document is referred to as the Littlewood text because the Littlewood family owned it. It is also referred to as the Busby February 4 draft because the handwriting has been confirmed as Busby’s and the date on it is February 4, 1840. The document is now on display in the Constitution Room at National Archives.

4/ What did the 1835 Declaration of Independence mean?

The Declaration of Independence, signed by Maori and recognised by the King, established New Zealand as an independent nation. It was why a treaty was necessary. Without it the British might have been able to just take over.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! A total of 512 chiefs signed the treaty in 1840 but only 39 chiefs signed the Declaration of Independence in 1835. British Resident James Busby, the same person who penned the final draft of the treaty, drafted the declaration. Busby created the declaration to head off a threat by a French eccentric that France planned to annex New Zealand. After signing Busby’s declaration, the 39 chiefs never met and some started fighting each other.

The only reason the British did not take over was that a strong humanitarian movement centred on the churches influenced British colonial policy and this meant the Colonial Secretary Lord Normanby genuinely tried to treat New Zealand inhabitants better than happened in earlier colonisations.

Now that the extent of the rubbish peddled in workshops for migrants is clear, my only question is whether New Zealand embassies overseas warn prospective migrants that while we nominally have freedom of expression, there are correct and incorrect attitudes to the treaty, and saying the wrong thing could cost you your job?


Treaty tutoring for migrant jobseekers,


Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

Re: point 2, you're both wrong.
There was no 'international law' governing agreements between imperial powers and tribal entities in 1840 - all international law was between sovereign states. Under the principle of 'intertemporal law', we can apply the rules of 1840 to an 1840 agreement today.
The International Court of Justice in 2002 (Cameroon v Nigeria) moreover held that 'treaties' between imperial powers and tribal entities did not come under international treaty law either in the past or now.

Peter Caulton said...

Another great piece Mike. Maybe this should be made into a documentary and shown to the silent majority in this retarded land in te middle of X Factor. Nice comment above Barend. The truth is out there.

Anonymous said...

It is really frightening that our new immigrants are told this sort of misleading things.It is no wonder that all of our government and local government people are forming policies that are allowing the Maori committees (unelected representatives to have so much influence)it is becoming very noticeable just how many of our local council and government staff are people with foreign accents.Are our prospective applicants given the same sort of pre application training, if not then are local applicants are being disadvantaged.
With this sort of incorrect information being provided as fact to so many people who can end up having so much influence on policy and decision making is very worrying.


KC said...

Note that it is not only immigrants who are being indoctrinated by this organisation. My daughter had to undergo this course as part of becoming a registered nurse for the DHB in the Wairarapa. I've tried to tell her that she has been told lies but it's easier to go with the flow and she is aware that rocking the boat would threaten her employment.