Sunday, February 7, 2010

David Round: Is the Treaty of Waitangi Holding New Zealand Back?

You may perhaps have seen, reasonably early on Waitangi Day, a debate on the Marae programme on Television One, about whether the Treaty of Waitangi is holding New Zealand back. It was recorded in Auckland a couple of days earlier, and involved four speakers ~ Stephen Franks and Tim Wikiriwhi for the motion, and Hana O’Regan and Matthew Hooton  against. There was a hand-picked studio audience, reflecting a rich diversity of points of view ~ I was in the front row, in the white jacket, & managed to say a couple of things ~ and I thought that as television debates went, it actually did not too bad a job.
There were many important issues not covered at all or barely hinted at, and one or two of the questions and answers were perhaps a little peripheral, but on the whole, given television’s limitations as a medium of information and debate, it was a good start in considering a vital issue where political correctness usually does not allow any debate at all. I must add, though, that I do not think that the eventual vote of the studio audience (only 35% believing that the Treaty is holding New Zealand back, and 65% believing that it does not) reflects the attitude of the country at large.

Matthew Hooton’s argument was that the Treaty was not the thing holding us back; we were being held back by our lack of education, our growing social welfare dependency, a fragile economy which rested on only a handful of sources of overseas exchange (all of them liable to disruption) and so on. I would make two replies to this. One is that the motion was not that the Treaty is the one thing holding us back, but rather that it is something, one of the things, that is. The other reply is, as I have argued in the past, that all our problems are connected. Our preoccupation with the Treaty diverts us from our other problems. We do not worry as much as we should about these other things because we are worrying instead about more Maori language funding, or ‘celebrating’ a new Maori social initiative. More, these other things holding us back are intimately connected with the Treaty. We do not value the education necessary for modern life and prosperity because (among other things) it was not needed by ancient Maori. So our schools teach Maori language and stick games instead of anything useful. Increasing Maori addiction to the Treaty gravy train is just an aspect of our general social welfare addiction, and the sad Maori social welfare statistics arise out of Maori lack of desire to better themselves because they are constantly told that their plight is entirely someone else’s fault. Because we have not enough education and believe that the world owes us a living we do not get up and really work at other ways of making a living. And so on.

One most striking thing about the debate, though, was the absolute courtesy and good humour of practically everyone involved. I have noticed this before, for on various occasions over the years I have felt obliged to stand up and say things in front of a Maori audience which I have thought they might not like, and have felt a little nervous in doing so. My invariable experience, however, has been that Maori respect courage and honesty; indeed, I suspect that they may have more respect for people who are brave enough to stand up, look them in the eye and courteously say what they really believe than they have for the often-cringing politically correct.

Among our defects of character as a nation, however, is a tendency to be far too trusting. Perhaps it comes from living on islands ~ our native birds were trusting also, plump and flightless, and it did them no good in the long run. Perhaps it arises from our very fortunate lifestyle here, law-abiding, prosperous and comparatively well-governed, for the last century. But one of our national delusions is that as long as we’re nice to other people they will be nice to us. We are a gift to con-men. We judge entirely by appearances. If someone is courteous and clean, then there can be nothing wrong with him or his hard-luck story. We instantly put our hands into our pockets.

If I may digress for a second ~ there is an immense amount of wisdom in a little episode in Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, describing his childhood and youth growing up after the war on the Greek island of Corfu. At one point he makes friends with a local fisherman, who gives him a black-backed gull and supplies him with all manner of strange and wonderful marine life for his natural history collection. The fisherman is decent and gentle, but Gerald’s mother is horrified to learn that he has been imprisoned for murdering his wife (he is let out at weekends to fish) and insists on meeting him to vet him as a friend for her son. So some pretext is arranged for his visit to the Durrell villa, where Gerald’s mother of course accidentally meets him. She is rather surprised to find him ‘such a nice man; he doesn’t look a bit like a murderer’. To this observation Gerald’s brother Larry replies scornfully ‘What did you think a murderer look like? Someone with a club foot and a hare lip clutching a bottle labelled Poison?’

Indeed not, of course. Many murderers are just nice decent people like anyone else.

Now do not misunderstand me! I am not suggesting that Maori treaty claimants are necessarily anything like murderers. I am simply pointing out that it is very easy to be misled by appearances; to suppose that just because someone is courteous and speaks quietly, that therefore their requests of you are perfectly reasonable. This does not necessarily follow. It may well be the case that many Treaty claimants who are now pressing for further generosity genuinely believe that they are entitled to what they are asking for. That does not make their case any more meritorious either. It is very easy for people to convince themselves that they are hard done by. Sincerity is no guarantee of credibility any more than it is a guarantee of talent (I am thinking of some bad artists here!). I am quite prepared to believe that many Maori now demanding the foreshore and sea-bed, more funding for the Maori language, further rounds of Treaty settlements and now sovereign rule over non-Maori may well believe it to be no more than a reasonable claim for their just entitlement. (I do not think all of them do. There are some very unpleasant and hate-filled people whose desire seems chiefly to be the destruction of the European race and the New Zealand nation, and who do not scruple to manipulate facts and people to that end.) But sincere belief does not make an illegitimate claim legitimate. It does, however, have the unfortunate consequence that the claimants do not take a refusal well. Instead of slinking away saying to themselves ‘Ah well, it was worth a try’, they actually feel genuinely aggrieved. They may turn to violence to remedy the wrongs they think they have suffered, and already voices are talking of it.

This column has ended up being one on elementary human relations rather than on the issue of further treaty claims to radio frequencies, which will have to wait until next week. But let me finish by reiterating an old truth ~ and rebutting Matthew Hooton at the same time. He said in his speech that treaty claims would eventually be settled. Time did not permit disagreement with this. But it is clear they will not be. Even the historic claims, for past alleged wrongs, will not be, for numerous Maori leaders, of whom Margaret Mutu is only the most recent, have made it absolutely plain that every generation will have another round of claims. Even some Ngai Tahu leaders ~ and Ngai Tahu are among the most reasonable in Maoridom ~ have said the same thing. As we know, many claims now the subject of full and final settlements have actually been fully and finally settled at least once before. And those are only the ‘historic’ claims; claims will still continue to be made for new alleged wrongs. Nor do we ever get as much as a thank you for any settlements. Hone Harawira actually abuses us, and only reflects a widely-held attitude when he does so. Our generosity is not even improving good race relations. Nor is it, of course, improving the lot of many Maori outside a new small elite. I understand that Harawira complained to John Key at Waitangi that many Maori were starving. Well, leaving aside social welfare provisions which are among the best in the world, not to mention more than we can afford, were not Treaty settlements meant to enable Maori to look after themselves? I hope the Prime Minister is noting that his generosity to Harawira and his mates has not resulted in much gratitude nor any good attitude on their part.

We are too trusting. We think that if we behave reasonably, so will everyone else. We think that no-one will ever take advantage of our good nature. We think that because we have given someone something, they will not ask for any more; that a full and final settlement will actually be full and final. Let us not fool ourselves. Our generosity only encourages the recipients to try it on again.

It is indeed a pity we do not learn history at school. In my day we learnt of the Dane-geld, the tax imposed upon England to raise money to buy off the Danes, the Vikings, but which inevitably had the effect of encouraging the Danes, once they had seen how profitable this extortion was, to return again and again, breaking their word not to, to demand yet more tribute; and which led, eventually, to Danish invasion and subjection of all of England, which ended not all that long before 1066. Buying people off seldom works. Kipling wrote a poem about it, which a wiser generation often learnt by heart. Here are some of its verses:

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation
To puff and look important and to say ~
‘Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.’

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:

‘We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!’


Anonymous said...

I feel the treaty is holding our country back because the crown did not fully honour it's obligations as a the treaty partner. If the crown did what it was suppose to do under the treaty we would not have conflict today at the expense of the taxpayer's. If generations were born into an honest treaty partnership and our country frame structure was strongly placed then wouldn't our world be a different place!

Peter said...

David Round should be made either the prime Minister or Minister for Maori Affairs. It is a pity we don't have a Minister for White Mans' Affairs then we might get a bit of balance in government.

John Key should be arrested and charged with treason. He is ruining the country with his desire for a disunited New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

The original treaty is a simple document which has been hi-jacked and inflated with PC smoke and mirrors to become a grievance industry and most NZrs are very angry about the scam it has become. Clearly, it will bury this nation if not stopped.
What is going on now does not relate to the original document(s) is all about money, and not enough of it is going to where it is most needed.
Shame on the perpetrators for playing the race card at the cost of all hard working tax payers whatever their colour.
And could someone please show me in the treaty where Margaret Mutu/Harawira views of maori sovereignty are written? In fact it says the opposite.

Rebel Radius said...

This racial (apartheid) is endorsed and financed by the New Zealand government and equally by the NZ tax payer who does not refuse to pay.

In this country there are New Zealanders and there are Maori. In this country there are producers and there are looters.

The looters live off the backs of the producer's. Like whining babies in carry cots they wail and are fed on demand. The more they are fed the more they wail. The more that are spoon fed, the less motivated they are to feed themselves.

The looters possess only one tool. Their tool is not constructive rather than destructive. Their tool is derived from learned behaviour and it is the unrelenting staid focus upon the creation of guilt.

The creation and standard of guilt is precisely what determines the standard and quality of the loot.

As the looters demand payment from the pockets of taxpayers who have been INVOLUNTARILY fleeced, it is little wonder that the looters are filled with self hatred. There is no virtue or value to be gained from unproductiveness.

The self-hating looters shake their fists and rattle their sabres as they loudly damn the producers. “The producers must be made to apologise.”

Whatever virtue the producers might have is never as high as that of the looter.

The looters damn the producers for their existence and those producers who have lost the morality of self esteem, simply bow their heads and open their pockets. There is no rage and no anger, only pathetic capitulation.

What would happen if the producers went on strike?

Ayn Rand addressed that very question in her best seller novel “Atlas Shrugged".

Unknown said...

Te Tirity o Waitangi I consider to be a Toanga (Gifted) from our ancestors, and like all Toanga I believe it should be treasured. Certain individuals of today have made statements over the media that ‘the treaty of Waitangi should be scraped’ (3news interviews.) I feel disappointed in this day and age that people still choose to deny, misinterpret and most of all dishonor the treaty. Maori people have been fighting against the corrupt government agencies appointed by the crown since 1841. The amount of acts put in place that ultimately disadvantage Maori as a people are phenomenal. But that doesn’t mean we should indulge actively in a state of victim mentality. This is a self-serving emotion that may excuse us from taking any real action. We must move forward, embrace and educate people that
The treaty of Waitangi is there to give us as a unique perspective of our country’s past present and dynamic future.
We should choose to value Te Tiriti o Waitangi as enabling Maori to determine the role, direction and autonomous development of their peoples, as encompassed in an understanding of rangatiratanga.

We choose to recognise the Treaty as providing a unique prospect to achieve equity of treatment and equality of opportunity for all citizens.
We choose instead to see Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a living, vibrant recipe for a healthy and thriving nation. We choose to see Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the means of partnership between the Crown and Maori – a partnership based on good faith and active protection.

Ali Mac said...

The Sharples party is no more than a modernised , white-shirted form of their ancestors in the 1700's. Their ancestors worshipped false gods eg moon; self; land. They were in effect in cohhots with the devil.
And so it is today. The Maori party; instead of using clubs and spears to kill we white men are using cunningly contrived guilt and shame. Although activists have been remmunerated for what was mostly never their in the first instance, the taste of money for nothing has driven them for endless amounts. Their psychological assaults on us of " injustices of the past........and racism.....and our people disadanvantaged.... and maori spirituality tactics have proved to be immensley profitable in procurring huge "reparations" from the crown. They are now behaving like an incensed pack of wolves going in for the kill and to devour all flesh and bone.
The spirit of the treaty never assumed a pillaging and litany of lies from part-maori descendants ( tribunal and sharples and co) of men who had to be moderated in their selling of land.
The seabed phrae in the treaty was meely to assure maori that the new immigrants would not steal their coastal areas from them This stealing and sovereignty mentality was the norm of all maori tribes in NZ prior to 1820.

The whie amn brought a biblw with him. In it was revelation of how God required them to regard Maori. It was with honour and honesty. So hence a treaty; hastily cobbled together sreies of notes that implied"we will not drive you out of you homeland because we are covenanted with the God of heaven. And so it was. Maori continued their undisturbed roaming and hunting and fishing where-ever they liked.
But along came Marxist trained communists alias OReagan, Latimer; sharples; Turia; and Solomon. They cunningly could see they could make billions and billions for nothing by pretending to be the everlasting "offended party" Hence we have seperatist laws and appartheid based Marine bill.
"Men of every creed and race gather here before thy face........." They despise any trace of harmony

Anonymous said...

Do I believe the treaty is holding us back?...NO!.

Why may you ask...well,considering the govt just flicked $2 billion dollars to a finance company and when compared to the total of treaty settlements over 20+ years being under $2 billion then one can see it really has no effect in a monetary sense.

The other thing is people assume those who linger at the bottom of the human food chain give a dam about the treaty and blame this mentality as a reason why they linger there when this is far from true.Most Maori I know who are in the poorer areas dont give a dam about the treaty,they only live day to day like any other people living in the low sociology-economic areas the world over.This isnt a 'treaty victim mentality' but just the way people in poorer areas function.

Another point I'd like to make is it is better for our childs learning to become bi-lingual as learning a second language has cognitive benefits and will aid in a childs education.