Saturday, December 7, 2013
Mike Butler: Panel ignores nation’s pulse
While the Constitutional Advisory Panel claims its final report, released on Thursday, is simply taking the pulse of the nation, this separatist-dominated group pushes its view on the Maori seats, the Treaty of Waitangi, and appears to have renamed the nation "Aotearoa New Zealand".
Despite receiving a large number of submissions wanting the Maori seats to go, the panel recommends against their abolition, saying “it is inappropriate for the longstanding rights of a minority to be taken away simply because the minority is outnumbered”.
The Maori Party initiated panel takes this firm stand irrespective of the nation’s heartbeat without indicating that with just 1.4 percent of the party vote in 2011, the sole reason the Maori Party is in Parliament is because of the Maori seats.
The panel uses the same reasoning to oppose a referendum on the retention or abolition of the Maori seats, recommending that Maori only should decide the future of the seats.
After ignoring the nation’s pulse on Maori seats and the decision on their future, the final report does show a subtle shift of emphasis in how the treaty is described. It has become “a foundational document” instead of the initial somewhat breathless affirmations by panel members Tipene O’Regan ("the Treaty is the foundation of our polity"), Michael Cullen (treaty a "living document"), Leonie Pihama (“the treaty is a crucial document which defines the relationship between Maori and the Crown”), and so on.
The report repeats faulty state orthodoxy on treaty interpretation by saying, on page 29, that "the Maori text of the Treaty, while giving kawanatanga (governance) to the Queen of England . . .(gave) "absolute authority for chiefs (rangatira) to be chiefs and hold sway in their territories".
The report does not say that this interpretation has only existed for the past 30 or so years, when claiming treaty breaches became a lucrative business for some. From 1840 until the grievance gravy train steamed up, the treaty was understood to agree that the Queen was sovereign and Maori were her subjects, with the rights of subjects, including possession of property.
Often overlooked is the fact that because the Treaty of Waitangi was drafted in English and translated into Maori, the clear meaning and intent of the treaty is plain as day for all to see in the English version.
There is no need to decode the Maori text and try to suppose what the 1840 chiefs may or may not have understood, even though clear evidence of their views exists in William Colenso’s eyewitness account of the treaty debate and signing.
The word “sovereignty” in Article 1 was translated into “kawanatanga” and the word “possession” in Article 2 was translated into “rangatiratanga”. Latter day treaty interpreters have put a new meaning into the word “rangatiratanga” to create the fiction that because chiefs were no longer able to carry on exercising their chiefly sovereignty that they ceded to the Queen, the treaty was breached and compensation must be paid.
As for the panel’s use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand” throughout the report, use of the word “Aotearoa” is one of those signs that help separate the greenstone-wearers from the red-white-and-blue crowd.
The name “Aotearoa New Zealand” has been pushed into use by the bone-pendant brigade, largely since the 1990s when it became the custom to sing New Zealand's national anthem "God Defend New Zealand" in both Maori and English.
The name “New Zealand” goes back to 1645 when Dutch cartographers renamed the land “Nova Zeelandia” after the Dutch province of Zeeland. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who sighted New Zealand in 1642 called it “Staten Landt”.
British explorer James Cook anglicised the name to “New Zealand” when he mapped the coastline in 1769. The name “New Zealand” appears in the English version of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and was transliterated into Te Tiriti, the Maori text, as “Nu Tirani”.
It is unknown whether Maori had a name for the whole country before the arrival of Europeans. The name “Aotearoa” originally referred to just the North Island.
The first documented use of the word “Aotearoa” was in New Zealand Governor George Grey’s book titled Polynesian Mythology And Ancient Traditional History Of The New Zealand Race, published in 1855.
Interesting too was the coverage given to the report's release by Radio New Zealand's Morning Report on Friday. Host Geoff Robinson interviewed the panel's co-chair, who is the treaty settlements specialist Tipene O'Regan, and said he had approached the far-left Maori rights activist Margaret Mutu, without success, for comment from the viewpoint of her Independent Iwi Constitutional Working Group. No further comment was sought.
I wondered why no comment was sought from our Independent Constitutional Review Panel. He must have been aware of our existence. We had sent them every press release.
at 8:44 PM