Thursday, September 13, 2012

Martin Devlin: A Government in Crisis?

Belatedly, our pathetic media has finally cottoned on to the enormous and sinister implications of the Waitangi Tribunal report on fresh water ownership claims by Maori. A snippet in the Dominion Post of 6 September by a reader sums it up beautifully:

“Did I miss the coup? Who decided a few unelected bodies could stop democratically elected governments following through on their election promises? - signed Paul Rayner, Wadestown.”

Paul Rayner very neatly identifies a profoundly disturbing situation which has crept up on New Zealanders and seriously questions the government’s ability to govern. He could have added that these unelected bodies, the Waitangi Tribunal, the Maori Council (and we can also include the Crown Forestry Rentals Trust) are not only funded (of course!) by the unsuspecting, benevolent taxpayer, but also are there to service ONLY Maori, no one else. To these we can add the non-elected statutory boards of local authorities appointed by the National government, the first of which has recently announced its intention to spend over $300 million of ratepayers’ money on insulating Maori homes around Auckland.

The Tribunal, in case we have forgotten, may only consider a claim by a Maori and no one else, especially a “pakeha” who may have a legitimate historical or modern claim. Recall the case of Alan Titford from Northland who was run off his legitimately purchased and owned farm by local Maori and who was subsequently treated in the most appalling manner by the National government of the day (Titford, A, 1989, 1998). Mr Titford applied, but was very quickly denied the opportunity of taking his case, to the Waitangi Tribunal- because he is not a Maori.

The Tribunal also has a legal responsibility for interpreting the Treaty and its “principles”, along with the courts, and invariably provides a modern interpretation of our New Zealand history. No matter that its reports often bear little if any relationship to eye witness accounts of what actually happened. Viewed from any perspective, that is an impressive set of powers accorded to a body which has no responsibility to the people at all; is not elected; comprises usually a majority of Maori; and is appointed by the minister of Maori Affairs. Thank goodness its recommendations are not, in the main, binding. But, having said that, the process now is that if our democratically elected government chooses not to implement a Tribunal recommendation, it could face court action, and possibly an injunction preventing it from proceeding, as has been threatened by the Maori Council.

According to commentator Matthew Hooton on National Radio recently, the Waitangi Tribunal has ALWAYS, in every case, found in favour of the claimants and NEVER in favour of the Crown. He also claimed that EVERY case concerning Treaty matters in which the Chief Justice has been involved, has been decided in favour of the plaintiffs. And, whilst we are on matters legal, a recent review of Legal Aid in New Zealand has resulted in a number of revisions, arguably to the detriment of those citizens who desperately need it - but did you know that a large part of legal aid goes to fund Maori litigants researching their Treaty claims?

We now have the amazing situation where the government of the day, democratically elected, and with an electoral mandate to partially sell some state-owned assets, is being prevented from doing so because a minority believes IT owns the water, which turns the turbines, which generate electricity, which powers our homes and businesses. In one Tribunal option presented to government, the “shares-plus” option, the government would gift a significant parcel of shares to this minority, provides seats on the boards of the entities concerned and accord the minority the power of veto over management decisions, with the prospect of being taken to court and an injunction on the sales sought, if it does not comply. Breathtaking!

To its credit the Key government has apparently rejected the “shares plus” option (whew!) and declined to consider the water ownership matter on a “pan-Maori” basis, preferring to deal with individual iwi which might have some sort of claim. But it will now engage in a 5-week period of “consultation” ostensibly to ensure there are no other fish hooks lurking in the waters, so we still do not know exactly what the government will do. This “consultation” has the effect of driving any share float out to the second quarter of 2013. In other words, the share float will now be delayed for at least8-10 months, (at a cost to the benevolent taxpayer yet again, of some $10 million), which is what the Maori Council and the Tribunal wanted in the first place!

But, the implications are clear - do as we say or we will screw up your plans to raise more capital to build more hospitals, schools and infrastructure. There is no other way of interpreting this other than as a direct threat to the ability of our government to govern. This is starting to look like political blackmail. How have we arrived at a point where a democratically elected government is not able to govern? 

The answer lies in the appeasement of Maori interests by successive governments since 1975 when the Treaty of Waitangi Act was introduced. It is well recorded by some of those responsible for this present debacle, that in most cases, this appeasement policy was mainly driven by a handful of zealous politicians, often against the wishes of their parliamentary colleagues. The names of Bolger, Graham, Lange and (especially) Palmer, are associated with the appeasement policies of both major parties. The story of how Palmer, acting alone and on his own volition, in the dead of night, raced northwards to Turangi to do a deal with Paramount Chief Te Heu Heu on the SOE Act and the subsequent introduction of the now (in) famous clause regarding Treaty “principles” is the stuff of legend, and of which Palmer himself is very proud, according to his own writings. The wider responsibility must lie of course with members of successive governments, not just the champions mentioned. This situation is now irreversible, unless a revolution of some sort occurs. 

Recent moves by the National-Maori Party coalition to start a process for changing the New Zealand Constitution is a further example of just how far and how fast this appeasement policy has developed. The goal of this review is to ensure that the Treaty of Waitangi is enshrined in the Constitution where it will enjoy the status of “supreme” law. As David Round has recently pointed out, at least at present, Parliament can “undo” some of the legislation around the appeasement policies, but once the Treaty is enshrined in the Constitution, only a revolution would be able to achieve any change. Would any present or future government have the political will, or intestinal fortitude, to attempt to turn the clock back? Not a chance!

Has the appeasement policy worked? From a Maori point of view, absolutely, and keep it coming, I hear them say. However, history reminds us that continual appeasement only delays the inevitable showdown when thinking people decide enough is enough. An upsurge in” letters to the editor” in our major newspapers suggests the wider population of New Zealand is fast reaching that point.

We have successive governments, judicial activists, and biased academic historians to thank for this mess - ably assisted by a host of liberal bureaucrats, “consultants’, and other hangers-on, whose livelihoods depend upon a continuance of this state of affairs.

What of the future, then? Is there a political “saviour” on the horizon?

Perhaps we will see the present government actually show some spine and say NO for once?

Cannot see that happening, can you? Too politically risky.

Perhaps we will see the Labour Party return to power, where at least Helen put a line in the sand?

Nope, without a Helen, I cannot see that happening either, given it was the socialists who got us into this mess in the first place. And their need to hop into bed with Hone and the Greens can only lead in one direction - more of the same.

But wait-there is still Winston and NZ First! At least HE has been consistent in his condemnation and continual appeasement of Maori claims.  Hmmmmmmm!!!!

Titford, A, (1998) Robbery by Deceit, Titford Press, ISBN#0-473-05067-6; and
The Titford Story, (1989), Justitia, ISNB#0-473-00937-4

Professor Martin Devlin has a distinguished career in the fields of education - in business, management, entrepreneurship, and corporate governance - in the private business sector, and in the NZ Army.  He was appointed an Officer in the NZ Order of Merit, ONZM, in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2011 for services to education. He is a fifth generation New Zealander.


Mike Davis said...
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great to see a rational and plausible analysis of the state of our so called democracy,thank you Martin, but how do we get this across to the bulk of the population,MG DAVIS

Anonymous said...
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Funny how rich guy's always seem to want these asset sales to go through

Les J Hole said...
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After spending considerable time studying Michael Kings "Penguin History of NZ" followed recently by "The Great Divide" by Ian Wishart, I can't help wondering the motivation of successive governments, historians and educationalist in propagating romantic myth and legend about stone age subsistence Maori settlement of this country pre- 1840... Our great country today has been built on Pakeha investment, technology and husbandry that Maori leaders in 1840 recognised would bring prosperity to all New Zealander's. The 1860 Kohimarama meeting endorsed (by at least 95%) comments by Te Ahukaramu advising "First, God: secondly, the Queen: thirdly, the Governor. Let there be one Queen for us. Make known to us all the laws, that we may all (Maori and Pakeha) dwell under one law..." a) dwell under one law..." Maori therefore ceded sovereignty in 1840 with the Treaty of Waitangi and they again confirmed and endorsed their understanding of the Treaty at the 'runanga' at Kohimarama in 1860... It's time for all New Zealander's to stand uo and stop this divisive and racist rubbist emminating from the Mana and Maori parties - Representing less than 3% of the country! Les J Hole

Ray S said...
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Poor anonymous, seems to have little or no grasp of what's going on, rich guys have nothing to do with all this crap. (No white rich guys anyway).
Sorry to say that the moari council have got the government by the short and curlies over this issue, like they have with most other to date. As Les Hole said, everything moari are claiming hinges around developments done by europeans. eg If europeans had not dammed the Waikato river, who would care about the water, apart from those who occasionally got flooded in the lower Waikato.
I do wonder why the media in general are not actively espousing what is going on, particularly TV news, nothing of any consequence is reported, its like they are on another planet.
Wake up New Zealand, it is time to take your country back and have it governed for ALL citizens.

Dave Hill said...
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In 1865 my great great Grandfather John Hill was forced off his legally obtained land at Hunia by Maoris in the supposed land wars, Maori didn't keep the land they just killed or drove off all the live stock, rand sacked the house then burned it to the ground, then having nothing left to steal they left. Old John Hill was given a small amount of compensation for his loss but it was never really enough to replace all that he and his family lost. Gosh if I was a different colour imagine the millions I could now claim but being a white 5th generation Kiwi I have increasingly no rights in my home country. When are the majority of Kiwis going to wake up, what is happening is worse than happened in South Africa 40 years ago.

Anonymous said...
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Interesting how those most opposed to apartheid in South Africa have been the most enthusiastic advocates of its introduction here.

Anonymous said...
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Don says

I work with an expat South African and have contact with others who tell me that NZ is in trouble. They have been down this all to familiar devisive road before back in South Africa.Beware the Minister of treat settlements....

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