Friday, March 18, 2011

Tom Johnson: The Death of Democracy?

Democracy has many imperfections as a form of governance, but is still vastly superior to the alternatives- ask the Libyans or Egyptians. It seems almost inexplicable that the democratic principles of equality and freedom that are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law are being abandoned by the current National government for the political expediency of securing the support of the Maori Party, despite it representing only 2.5% of all voters. The Foreshore and Seabed Bill is not only ill-considered and dangerous as claimed by Columnist Chris Trotter, but it is blatantly racist. It confers on Maori New Zealanders special property rights (customary title) and new legal powers to enforce them that are denied 85% of the rest of New Zealanders. Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg and the point missed by the majority of New Zealanders in their apathy, is that it is just a small part of the whole racial or ethnicity debate.

It is a fact that, “since the ending of the Cold War, ethno-cultural conflicts have become the most common source of political violence in the world, and show no sign of abating”, (Kymlicka, 1995, p.1). If the democratic rights of all New Zealanders are not being placed in jeopardy, why without any reference to the electorate does the Prime Minister grant Maori separatists and sovereignty advocates the right firstly to fly the Tino Rangitiratanga or Maori Separatist Flag on Waitangi Day? This seemly innocuous move by Key unfortunately allows through its symbolism the establishment of an artefact which endorses and triggers internalised values and norms that are manifestations of deeper cultural assumptions - in this case Maori sovereignty. The claim for Maori sovereignty ignores the fact that Maoris ceded sovereignty to the Crown in 1840. Governor Hobson’s famous declaration of: “he iwi ko tahi tatou” (now we are one people) is ignored by the separatist. I will not accept the implication that my European forbears were so stupid they did not know what they were signing, and yet the Treatyist Maori wants me to accept their contemporary interpretation and claim of retaining their sovereignty.

Why did the Prime Minister surreptitiously send Dr Pita Sharples to the United Nations to sign up to the United Nations Charter on Indigenous Rights? His claim that being a signatory is only aspirational ignores the fish hooks in the clauses of the charter, which will come back to haunt future generations in New Zealand. The signing was immediately welcomed as a great day for Maoridom by former Maori Land Court judge Sir Edward Durie, as he considered the clauses would ultimately find their way into common law. Why is the government pushing through the Foreshore and Seabed Act knowing that an overwhelming majority of all the submissions made to the Select Committee hearing were opposed to the Bill as is a predominance of New Zealanders? It is obvious Key and the National Party has a hidden agenda.

Affirming the United Nation’s Declaration on the rights of indigenous people is an example of this usurpation of democratic rights; no public debate and no public mandate. In other words a sell-out to the Maori Party. The hidden agenda is slowly surfacing. Recent New Zealand Herald editorials on Maori sovereignty may be part of the propaganda. It certainly appears that way. Does the Government have its eyes on the massive Treaty reparations paid out to Iwi. Is Key a promoter of separate development – Maori Sovereignty? Or is the motivation to become involved as a government somehow tied in with the massive tax payer funded reparations to Maori Iwi? Is there some grand plan for investment in the New Zealand economy? The Treaty “gravy train” is a disgrace. Little if any of the reparations paid out historically has trickled down to those in most need.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata’s excellent paper on “People Power or Ethnic Elites” draws attention to how there has been a shift in recent years from focusing on Treaty grievances and reparations to indigenous group rights to property and constitutional recognition. As she points out this will create a permanent gap between a small Iwi elite and the majority of New Zealanders of all ethnicities.

In spite of her comments it would appear that the separatist vision of ”two nations in one state” an ideology that seems to prevail in our universities and government institutions as the orthodoxy is also the objective of the current government. If so why in a democracy haven’t the public been told and given the opportunity to reject or accept this approach. Willie Jackson in his speech to ACT in the weekend tried to convince the Auckland audience that Maori were entitled to ''special treatment'' under the version of Treaty that ''99 per cent'' of chiefs signed up to. It is a sad reality that forty years of historical revisionism and politically biased curricula in our schools have lead to such distortions of reality. It has always seemed incongruous to me that when Don Brash in his 2004 Orewa speech advocated one set of laws for all, he was pilloried for playing the race card, and it is equally ironic at a time in North Africa where people are fighting for their democratic rights our own government is abusing them.


Ray said...

It is a fact that, “since the ending of the Cold War, ethno-cultural conflicts have become the most common source of political violence in the world, and show no sign of abating”

True, and in many places, civil war. Perhaps we are heading down that track.

Anonymous said...

This article is a breath of fresh air which most Kiwis would agree to but are too afraid to do anything about. John Key wasn't voted under this mandate. He has become a bait and switch prime minister. "I will get rid of the Maori seats in Parliament"-- bait, creating the Marine and Coastal Area Bill----switch.

The list goes on, but this foreshore and seabed bill is corrupt because of the amount of conflict of interest associated with it.

Anonymous said...

The National government has the maori right where it wants them. Maori will get nothing from this bill. The Crown will always retain ALL NZ, they don't have to prove they own it. The maori party are history also.

Rick said...

You need to be reminded that while your article is great that your european forbears actually did NOT sign the treaty of Waitangi.

Thats right, the treaty of Waitangi has no European ratification. Its between 500 iwis and... No one!

One reason why its not a legal document.

Pity that that knowledge isnt more common, i blame the Maori activists of the 70's for that pigs ear.

The Gantt Guy said...

Ray I don't think there's any danger of a civil war in New Zealand, ever. Decades of kiwi institutions (government agencies, the socialist indoctrination centres laughably called 'schools', etc.) busily revising history and reinterpreting the Treaty, combined with kiwis' natural apathy will ensure the money keeps on flowing to corporate iwi, and New Zealand's future continues to get on the plane for Australia every week.

Anonymous said...

Well, citizens, if we don't like the way our country is heading shouldn't we be doing something about it? We have seen both major Parties promote some of the agenda outlined in
Tom's article. In my final years of teaching I saw The Treaty of Waitangi and "Maori perspectives" become required aspects in our taxpayer funded school system. A new religion in fact - and the teachers' unions went along with it.

As I've mentioned in other posts we should somehow come together and promote the concept of Direct Democracy where politicians can be made to keep their promises and to refrain from imposing unwanted and unmandated legislationn on the people. We've all learned the hard way - politicians can't be trusted.
Even the ones with good intent and some integrity are muzzled by the Party Bosses.

Not all of us want to escape to Australia. This is our country, our home. If we want a proper democracy rather than a pretend democracy we are going to have to fight for it and bring a new dimension into politics.

A first step would surely be to withdraw all financial and political support from the Parties which are allowing the agenda we don't want. Consider supporting a new Party - if one emerges - if it will take Direct Democracy on board. If all else fails try to get a person of competence and integrity to represent you as an Independent Member of Parliament.

Is this going to be easy? No! However putting up and living with the present shambles is not easy either. Decades ago the Swiss voters saw the dangers of unresponsive central government and they just didn't talk about it - they took action. We can do the same. At the very least we can make a start. Maic.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the new version of the Foreshore and Seabeds Act has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with money and power? According to Don Elder, the iron sands off NZs west coast have a value approaching 5 trillion dollars....very, very powerful reasons why this racist bill has been forced through in such an underhand and corrupt manner. And please remember that while gold, silver, oil and uranium remain the property of the crown, the iron sands don't. As already stated, the iron sands have a value far in excess of what ever as yet, undiscovered value gold, oil etc may have. Why were the iron sands so convieniently left off this "Crown Only" list.

It is going to be very interesting to see just how the future development of the iron sands plays out and just who is going to benefit from them.

It as absolutely tragic for the future of NZ that this massive asset is being spirited away from Crown ownership. The technology to develop this resource exists right now. The markets (India, China etc) are screaming for it, and New Zealand's cash flow problems could have been solved almost overnight (the Christchurch earthquakes not withstanding)if this dreadful piece of legislation had not been created.

In time we may get to know just what the real agenda here actually is?

Anonymous said...

To be sure, the phony players attempting to call the shots currently have no concern for the future of this nation. Let us hope that pressures applied today will impede their progress in giving away our nation's wealth and that we don't get to see their true agenda - sadly, I believe this to be unrealistic, short of a civil uprising! They that hold our future in their hands are being manipulated by much much larger players.
As an aside, I'm white to the core but my homework tells me I'm as Maori as the Maori King. A true native new zealander - and I like it that way!

Anonymous said...

The Maori seats in Parliament tipped the balance of power for the Labour Governments 1946-9 and 1957-60. Many acts favourable to Maori citizens were passed then,undeniably to meet a social need.
Originally to provide representation in Parliament for communal Maori who did not have
an individual property right to vote, the seats now have assumed the role of a racial force in a compeititive environment. Now they have been used used by corporate "Maori elite" to rob non-iwi New Zealanders on a grand scale.
The time has come TO ABOLISH THE MAORI SEATS !

Terry said...

The Treaty Of Waitangi is destoying New Zealand.It is not only financially crippling, but is also racially dividing.We need to either get rid of the Maori Party or introduce a Pakeha Party. The main support for the radical and racist Hone Harawira comes from those Maori people seekig a free ride on the back of Pakeha. John Key has revealed his true colours by admitting that if National lose the next election he will quit the party as he does not see himself as a opposition party leader. Obviously politic's are just a break from his boring multi- million dollar lifestyle. Don Brash would have made a better PM than Key, as he would denied the racially based special treatment Maori demand. The National Government is borrowing $300-$400 million a week, while Iwi claim to be worth 25 Billion. Does John Key want Maori to own New Zealand? Without the Treaty settlements and extra funding for Maori only initiatives New Zealand would be in a much better financial position. Very little of the money handed to Maori goes to where it is needed most. Although the Harawira's and their supporters deny it, New Zealand is an equal opportunity country as many Maori who choose to ignore the free ride option have proven.