Sunday, July 10, 2011
Mike Butler: Objecting to the Maorification of NZLabels: Mike Butler, Treaty
Poles apart after 171 years of living in the same country. How have we come to this? Part of the reason is that there are two opposing interpretations of the treaty. The view Brash takes is that by the first article, tribal ancestors had transferred their chiefly authority to the Queen forever, and the second article confirmed rights of possession. The separatist view is based on the second article’s guarantee of complete ownership, the Maori phrase “tino rangatiratanga”.
The problem is that “rangatiratanga” means a range of things including “sovereignty, chieftainship, right to exercise authority, chiefly autonomy, self-determination, self-management, ownership, leadership of a social group, domain of the rangatira, and noble birth”.
In drafting the treaty, British Resident James Busby and Governor William Hobson used the phrase ‘tino rangatiratanga’ to convey “complete ownership”. Maori sovereignty proponents take ‘tino rangatiratanga’ to mean both “ownership” and “self-government”, which allows the treaty to both cede and retain sovereignty.
Some generous souls argue that the chiefs who signed the treaty had neither concept of sovereignty nor ownership since in the stone-age world they occupied, everything was tied up in a system dominated by the chief. Therefore, the word “chiefly-ness” or “rangatiratanga” could explain sovereignty and ownership.
But British sovereignty was quickly explained many times back in 1840, to chiefs deciding whether or not to sign, as “the Queen will be a chief over you”. Similarly, the chiefly ownership of and the ability to sell land was equally well understood at that stage, as was evidenced by the large areas of land already sold by chiefs to some entrepreneurial English.
The two conflicting interpretations of the treaty have co-existed for 171 years and have overlapped a much longer Maori tradition, of squabbling over land.
The treaty brought a new age for Maori that meant no longer did they have to go to war to assert land ownership claims. The struggle could continue under the auspices of British law. Chiefs could sell land, not only for financial gain, but to settle old scores or to get up the noses of other chiefs, as happened with the Waitara block. When it became apparent that the Governor would investigate land-sale disputes, there were the additional benefits of compensation, the possibility of having the land returned, so it could be sold, yet again.
And on it goes. This has pretty much been the basis of the Maori economy for the past 171 years. When the Fourth Labour Government made it possible to air grievances back to 1840, a new age dawned for the Maori land-sale grievance economy. The raft of treaty claims and settlements that appeared since then has been a part of that new age, the so-called Maori renaissance.
Various incarnations of a Maori sovereignty movement have existed for nearly 171 years, including flagpole-chopper Hone Heke, the Maori King movement, the Kotahitanga and the Kauhanganui movements. In his influential “Te Tiriti o Waitangi: He Whakamarama”, written in 1922 for a Maori audience, Sir Apirana Ngata explained that since parliament was the embodiment of chiefly authority ceded in 1840, demands for absolute Maori authority, such as the Kotahitanga and Kauhanganui movements of that time, were wishful thinking. (1)
Nevertheless, continued brooding by some disaffected Maori has kept separatist dreams alive, and these dreams have been nourished with the appearance of the Maori Party, and a National-Party-led government which officially flew the Maori separatist flag, set up the Whanau Ora Maori social services organization, signed up to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, signed away rights to the coastal area, and fast-tracked dubious treaty settlements.
Fellow-traveller separatists have infested government departments, universities, schools, as well as the news media, as was shown by the Dominion Post’s refusal to run the ACT Party advert.
Without saying Herald columnist John Roughan is a separatist, in his column “Tino rangatiratanga is more than a flag - it is the autonomy every person needs” he appeared stunned at the result of a TVNZ Close-Up poll in which of 40,000 responses, 81 percent said that they don’t think Maori have a special place in New Zealand. (2)
Roughan wrote: “Everybody knows Maori have a special place in New Zealand” and went on to call those who didn’t believe that were “deniers” who generally leave to live in Queensland. It’s a bad day for news when beliefs get in the way of facts. But, Roughan was writing an opinion piece, and he has shown that his opinion is out of step with reality.
Sentiments like “tino rangatiratanga is the autonomy every person needs" help massage the separatist dream into the subconscious of readers and viewers who would otherwise reject the notion of dual government or Maori-governed areas.
Ad man John Ansell created the "Fed up with pandering to Maori radicals” for the ACT Party. He had created two much more lively adverts that popularity sensitive ACT MPs rejected, causing ructions within the party, according to the New Zealand Herald. (3) Ansell has since quit his role as ACT Party creative director, after he attacked "white cowards" for not standing up against the "Maorification" of the country.
Even so the milder published advert sparked howls of outrage from two of the pandered-to Maori radicals. The "dog whistle" outburst came from the retired professor Ranginui Walker, who was a member of Maori activist group Nga Tamatoa, and the "deeply offensive" comment was from Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia. Both try to present their extreme views as mainstream.
1. Claudia Orange, The Treaty of Waitangi, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 1987, p229.
2. John Roughan, “Tino rangatiratanga is more than a flag - it is the autonomy every person needs”, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10725459
3. David Fisher, “Act ad man quits after blasting 'apartheid”, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10737507
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