Monday, June 21, 2010
David Round: The Insidious Creep to Maori Sovereignty
Foreshore and Seabed Update: Well, so the government’s foreshore and seabed proposals are going ahead, and to hell with the rest of us. I must say I was a little surprised. The Prime Minister, great deal-maker that he is, is not afraid to call off negotiations from time to time ~ the Tuhoe claim to the Ureweras may spring to mind ~ but, despite the tough talk of taking it or leaving it, he actually ended up making further concessions to Maori; for example, in the brand new and very mysterious ‘universal recognition’. I am not quite sure what this involves.
On the radio the Attorney-General has suggested that this universal recognition was created in order to avoid giving offence to Maori who believed that they owned the foreshore and seabed already, and therefore resented having to go to court to prove their title all over again; but that the whole thing made no legal difference at all. So we have a new interest, recognising an alleged existing right, and recognised by statute, a recognition which (by the sound of it) will cover all foreshore and seabed, but which is of no effect and will make no difference. Nothing but words on paper. Just like section 9 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act, the subject of the big 1987 case ~ that was mere meaningless lip-service also….I find this all a highly unlikely combination. I wouldn’t mind betting that at some time in the future it turns out that it does make a difference. According to the Christchurch Press this universal recognition ‘will require iwi involvement in conservation projects in their areas of the foreshore and seabed’. So iwi are going to provide time and labour and perhaps even money for conservation work, but receive nothing in exchange? That would be a very unusual arrangement.
Moreover, on the radio I also heard the Attorney-General say, virtually in the same breath, that the proposed legislation does not really change anything and that it satisfies the demands of the Maori party. These cannot both be right. Which is? According to Peter Sharples, significant property rights would flow from findings of customary title, which he described as a ‘full-blooded title’. Perhaps he is putting a brave face on things; perhaps he is actually being honest. I cannot help but wonder if Moana Jackson’s claim that nothing will really change was a bit more muted than his usual outbursts. What is the bet that he is just saying that in order to appease suspicious pakeha while his mate the Attorney-General gets on with the business of giving Maori what they want. Paranoid? Let’s wait and see. The Attorney-General himself said on the 15th of June that customary title is ‘an ownership title’, and that those who obtain customary title to foreshore and seabed ‘will be the legal owners of it and the minerals beneath it’.
I notice also that the Attorney-General says that although customary title depends on exclusive use since 1840 or thereabouts, he insists that there will be no definition of exclusiveness ~ and since the original proposal was that ‘exclusiveness’ might be defined according to Maori custom, and might not be incompatible with certain uses by other people (yes!), that surely leaves open the possibility that public beaches have been exclusively used by Maori by their own customary definition. In response to questions from David Garrett M.P. the Attorney-General was sufficiently cautious as to refuse to guarantee that some of our famous (and much-used) beaches will not have customary title awarded over them. Moreover, I have heard nothing to suggest that the government is abandoning its proposal that under its new legislation it will have the power to grant customary title to Maori after private negotiations, completely bypassing the courts and public scrutiny.
I am, then, still as concerned and angry as ever I was. I will postpone my final judgement until after I see the precise words of the legislation ~ AND how the legislation works in practice ~ but in this week’s announcements I have heard nothing to allay my fears. I see the public will have an opportunity to make submissions to the select committee considering the legislation. Big deal. The government did not even bother looking at the last round of public submissions before the Prime Minister announced that it was going ahead anyway. Are we seriously expected to believe that hey will have any more respect for the people who elected them this time? Clearly they do believe that we are fools.
Well, we voted for them.
The Insidious Creep to Maori Sovereignty
For several weeks now I have been writing about current claims to ‘Maori sovereignty’. A generation ago anyone of education and good sense confronted with such a proposition would have burst out laughing. This does not happen now. The Waitangi Tribunal has not indicated to Nga Puhi that their claim to sovereignty is one which the Tribunal is not prepared to countenance. Sundry ‘scholars’ argue learnedly in its favour, and I do not hear laughter echoing through Wellington’s corridors of power. As far as our politicians and public servants are concerned, it may happen or it may not, but nothing is completely out of the question.
How did it come about that we are now even prepared to consider such preposterous possibilities? It did not happen overnight, but one step at a time. Ask for one thing ~ the righting of historical injustice, real or alleged, even if previously settled ~ then, if you succeed with that, ask for something more ~ and then more ~ and eventually we find ourselves in the situation we are now in, where already our government flies the Maori sovereignty flag, recognises special rights in indigenous peoples declared in a United Nations charter, and where, in the words of the Otago Daily Times speaking of foreshore and seabed, it ‘seems a new class of property owner is to be created with superior rights, as well as unlimited opportunities for the courts to create precedent exclusive to one ethnicity. ‘One law for all’ has thus been abandoned on the cusp of indigeneity.’
And now Maori want sovereignty as well. As no more than the absolutely logical and inevitable next step, the key to our entire country, everything your ancestors and mine and we ourselves have laboured to create over a century and a half is at least on the table and liable to be given away by our enlightened governors. It is the old story of the frog sitting in the pot of gradually warming water, not noticing the heat and eventually being boiled to death. It is Hitler making one last, and then another last, and then another absolutely last territorial claim in Europe. The first claims may be reasonable, the last are anything but. And all our leaders do is wave pieces of paper and promise us peace in our time.
Just cast your mind back a few years. Have we not been assured, time and time again, that there was nothing to worry about because the settling of Treaty claims was just a stage, one that would take a few years to get through, but that once these old historical injustices were settled we could all settle down and be New Zealanders living happily together? I did not believe that then and I most certainly do not believe it now. Each new Maori claim and settlement is another Munich. The fatuous high-minded statesmen ~ the pompous arrogant racist windbag Sir Douglas Graham springs immediately to mind ~ who made us these promises are at best no more than our own Neville Chamberlains.
Our unhappy situation has not arisen out of any actual constitutional development or as a necessary consequence of our laws or constitution. Nothing has forced or obliged us to go down this road. It has happened only because a tiny vocal and fashionable minority wielding an influence out of all proportion to its minuscule size has managed to capture the debate, to insinuate itself into the public service and education system, to propagandise and eventually make the unthinkable seem reasonable. ‘Has managed to’? Has been allowed to, by the very people who should be carefully watching over the welfare of the state. They have betrayed us. As I observed some time ago in my review of Professor Brookfield’s very foolish book on the Treaty, not least among the causes of the French Revolution was the hospitality shown to revolutionary ideas by the influential and fashionable but unthinking upper class who were later to be destroyed by their awful fosterlings. Maori sovereignty, too, is conceivable only because of the intellectual climate fostered by our own dim-witted chattering classes.
Many people, then, have to share in the blame for this unhappy state of affairs, even down to the good men who stand by and do nothing, to echo Burke. We must blame politicians for inventing, and failing to define, the phrase ‘principles of the Treaty’. We must blame the intellectuals of the universities who with their adolescent mentality have embraced this latest rebellious cause, and their allies in primary and secondary education. Nor must we forget to lay a fair share of the blame at the feet of certain members of the judiciary, in particular (but not solely) the politicians manqués Sir Robin Cooke, late unlamented President of the Court of Appeal, and our present unimpressive Chief Justice. Sir Robin led the Court of Appeal in its political judgment in the big 1987 Maori Council case, which brought the ‘principles of the Treaty’ to life. That decision unleashed the idea of ‘partnership’ on our poor country. To be fair, the Court of Appeal may not have realised what a monster it had created by its references to Treaty partners and partnership, for Sir Robin did make later remarks explaining, although not with a great deal of force, that he had spoken only of a relationship ‘in the nature of a partnership’, that in any case not all partnerships were of equals, and that he had used the word ‘partners’ loosely and interchangeably with ‘parties’. Since then partnership has taken on a life of its own. Nevertheless, as I have previously explained, the decision was a consciously political decision, and an openly-admitted defiance of Parliament’s will. The damage the present Chief Justice has wrought by the 2003 Ngati Apa decision, which began the whole foreshore and seabed business, is immeasurable. The white fellow-travellers of the Treaty industry include a great number of fools ~ folly, indeed, is a prerequisite ~ but the damage they do is usually insidious and slow. I cannot think of anyone who has done so much damage in single identifiable acts as Cooke and Elias and their fellow judicial ‘useful idiots’.
Partnership and Maori sovereignty might seem to be two quite distinct things, but in fact they are intimately linked. Even partnership has implicit within it a denial of the sovereignty of the Crown. If Maori are ‘partners’ with the Crown then they cannot be subjects of the Crown at the same time. Rather, they are ‘partners’ in the government of New Zealand. Whom do they govern? Why, everyone else ~ us. The very concept of ‘partnership’ releases Maori from the position of being subjects. It is the first major step on the way to complete sovereignty. By partnership Maori already share sovereignty with the Crown. The job is half done. They then merely need to dispose of their Treaty partner, the Crown, and they are completely in charge.
The very idea of partnership’s two sovereignties in one state should have been enough to cause anyone with the slightest knowledge of history, human nature and logic to run screaming in the opposite direction. We have it on the very highest of authority that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Where there are two rival sources of authority in a state then a contest between them, civil strife, and very possibly even civil war and its attendant horrors follow shortly behind. The trouble is that our rulers think so little and are so sunk in their own ignorant smug complacency that they cannot believe that anything like this will ever happen. We see this phenomenon in many other fields beside the political. Yes, the world is running out of oil, on which we depend for everything ~ but nothing will ever happen. Yes, we are living beyond our means ~ but nothing will ever happen. Yes, we have social breakdown ~ but nothing will ever happen. Yes, of course there is climate change ~ but nothing will ever happen. These things will not actually affect us. We can behave as stupidly as we like in any sphere of life because somehow we are exempt from the rule that actions have consequences. We can fiddle with a perfectly good constitution ~ excellent constitutional arrangements, in fact ~ and somehow nothing bad will happen. We can entrench the Maori race for ever in a position of privilege and power and this will not lead to any trouble, any decline in our country’s prosperity, any resentment on the part of anyone else ~ or, if European New Zealand should resent this, that is merely evidence of their racism, and the apparatus of the state and the thought police should be brought to bear to eliminate these bad attitudes.
Well, once more I find myself writing a column without getting on to Maori Sovereignty, The Maori Perspective. That will have to be next time. Let me leave you now, though, with just one quotation, not from that book but from a hui whose proceedings were reported by the Christchurch Press some years back. Te Ururoa Flavell, now of course a Maori Party Member of Parliament, was reported as saying there that ‘basically, Aotearoa should be in Maori hands’. Perhaps unnecessarily, he added that ‘I don’t think anybody [at this hui] is about personal violence but that’s not to say it’s going to happen or it’s not going to happen~ all strategies are being looked at to achieve a goal’. (I say ‘unnecessarily’ because the way things are going it seems violence may indeed not be necessary.) But ask yourselves these questions. First, isn’t this racism? What would the ‘Race Relations Conciliator’ (this title is now a profound sarcasm) have to say if someone publicly announced, for example, that New Zealand should be ruled by white people? (And does not Joris de Bres’s constant silence in the face of proposals for Maori rule reveal his own profound racism and intellectual bankruptcy?) Second, is it likely that Flavell, now, as we know, a Member of Parliament and indeed a member of the coalition governing our country, has modified his views and is now an advocate of racial equality? I see no evidence that he is, and if he were he would be the only member of the Maori Party who was. It is absolutely clear that something very much like this is the Maori Party’s agenda. Third ~ what will the reaction of Flavell’s followers and Maori party supporters be if, after all these promises and expectations, he does not come up with the goods and deliver the country over to them? Dashed expectations can be very ugly things. If you are led to believe you are entitled to something, and then you do not get it, you are angry. You were robbed of your rights, and someone will have to pay. Even if talk of sovereignty were never actually to result in actual sovereignty, the very talk of it creates ill-feeling and trouble. And fourth ~ if he does succeed, and our country is to be in Maori hands in future, what do you think the reaction will be from all those people who will then find themselves officially second-class citizens in their own land? The Race Relations Conciliator will doubtless tell them that this arrangement is the supreme form of non-racism, but I doubt that they will listen.
Flavell and numerous other Maori sovereignty advocates have told us exactly what they want. We have been warned. We pay no attention, just as no-one really took seriously the desires and plans which Hitler set out in Mein Kampf. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum. Our rulers are very deliberately charting a course for civil war.
It is only reasonable that we start to think how we might defend ourselves.
at 12:48 AM