Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mike Butler: How treatyist avoids scrutiny

A government program is the nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth, according to the late United States President Ronald Reagan. One such eternal-life programme in New Zealand concerns treaty settlements. The architect of that programme is Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who tells how he set up the process in his new book titled Reform – A Memoir. Regarding critics as racists, he set the policy in motion when his boss was out of the country, he incorporated a redefined version of the treaty into law, and did all that without any regard to the financial and social impact these policies would have.

Sir Geoffrey is an aging white liberal who has spent his entire working life cocooned in a privileged environment, and whose conscience appears to drive him to improve the lot of those he deems less fortunate. But his cocoon means he does not really know much about those he purports to help.

Maori “were subjected to rank injustice in colonial times”, Sir Geoffrey writes without saying what those injustices were, adding “it has taken a long time to remedy those injustices, and the process is not yet complete”.

Sir Geoffrey was Justice Minister in the 1980s Lange Labour government. Since his speciality is law and politics, it is possible he does not know too much about history. But New Zealand has a short history, with the history of white settlement very short. This means you don’t have to go far to find out all there is to know.

There is little doubt that the British believed they were proceeding in an enlightened and humane manner in the settlement of New Zealand because not only was the consent of the indigenous people sought and acquired through the Treaty of Waitangi, any land needed for the settlers was bought and paid for. By contrast, earlier British colonisation involved taking land, importing slaves for labour, and gunning down unwilling natives, circumstances the newly humanitarian British wished to avoid.

Therefore, the “rank injustice” that Sir Geoffrey alleges, in the third sentence of his treaty chapter, took place did so within the context of settlement proceeding by consent, with all land used by settlers being purchased. In fact, the British (government and settlers) bought 24.1-million hectares of New Zealand’s total land area of 26.8-million hectares.

In the sixth sentence, Sir Geoffrey presents the corridors-of-power version of the usual retort “you are racist if you disagree” by saying “there is an unpleasant underside to the New Zealand psyche when questions of race are debated.”

The Lange-Douglas-Palmer government of the 1980s, most especially Sir Geoffrey, began looking at extending the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal back to 1840 “to deal with the manifest injustices that had been visited upon Maori by the settler Parliaments of the nineteenth century”. Sir Geoffrey wrote that he “did some research on the outstanding grievances and while they were substantial I thought they were manageable. It has taken longer than I thought, although the end is in sight”.

Sir Geoffrey announced the policy when Prime Minister David Lange was away in Europe on February 2, 1984.

What Sir Geoffrey does not say is how those claims multiplied once compensation was offered. By the time another Labour government set a deadline for historical claims, that being September 1, 2008, a total of 2034 historical claims were registered. By contrast, in 1882 a delegation took just nine grievances to Queen Victoria. Sir Geoffrey apparently failed to consider that the promise of compensation always acts like a magnet to claims.

Sir Geoffrey mentions “the rediscovery of the Maori language version of the treaty, from which has flowed a new political vocabulary” as striking features of the Motunui report.

He does not mention how the rediscovery of the Maori language version led to a re-interpretation of the treaty. Sir Hugh Kawharu, who was both a Waitangi Tribunal member and Ngati Whatua o Orakei claimant, is credited with re-defining the words “kawanatanga” and “rangatiratanga” to create a treaty that confirms Maori sovereignty over all things Maori while giving to the Crown limited power to control new settlers.

In his re-interpretation that is posted on the Waitangi Tribunal’s website, Sir Hugh avoids the simple fact that the treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori, which means that the meaning and intent is clear in the English. The word “kawanatanga” that appears in the Maori text was used to translate “sovereignty” in the English, while “rangatiratanga” was used to translate “possession”.

Sir Geoffrey gained Cabinet authority to set up in the Ministry of Justice the Treaty of Waitangi Policy Unit (that later became the Office of Treaty Settlements) to deal with the Crown response to treaty negotiations. That unit created a report later adopted by Cabinet and published on July 4, 1989, as “Principles for Crown Action on the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Those five principles were: Kawanatanga (the principle of government), rangatiratanga (self-government), equality, cooperation, and redress. Notice how the government that Sir Geoffrey was a part of at this point had accepted that “rangatiratanga” meant “self-government” whereas in the original treaty of 1840, “rangatiratanga” translated “possession”.

The treaty policy enabled Sir Geoffrey to include treaty clauses in legislation, including Section 4 of the Conservation Act 1987 which said “this Act shall be interpreted and administered as to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”, with a similar reference to treaty principles in the Environment Act 1986. The Resource Management Act spelled out a number of Maori concepts concerning environmental management. The State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986 had section 9 that provides: “Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Sir Geoffrey wrote that the settlement process has been insulated “from the ravages of extreme opinion” but he did not specify how this has been achieved.

1. He does not say that the government and claimants agreed upon treaty breaches before, yes before, a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into the claims has been completed. The public assumes that the tribunal conducts an inquiry to establish the validity of the claim.

2. He does not say that that the Waitangi Tribunal is not an impartial panel of inquiry but has become an advocate for Maori interests to the extent that claimants rely on a sympathetic report as evidence for court action as we have seen in the recent claim about water rights.

3. He does not say that treaty settlements are legally binding when they are signed, which means the select committee process and passage through parliament has no bearing on the already agreed settlement. In this manner, most voters and taxpayers have no input in the process whatsoever.

As justification, Sir Geoffrey writes: “I thought then and I still think now that the most serious challenge New Zealand faces is to avoid having a permanent underclass defined by race”. He seems unaware that Maori social indicators have worsened, yes worsened, while the treaty settlement process has proceeded.

According to information provided by the Ministry of Social Development last year, Maori unemployment in 1981 was 14 percent, in 1993 it was 24 percent, and in 2012, it was 36.5 percent. In 2002, 38 percent of those on the domestic purposes benefit were Maori, and by 2012, it was 42.7 percent. In 2002, 23 percent of those on a sickness benefit were Maori, while in 2012 it was 28 percent. In 2002, 19 percent of those on an invalid’s benefit were Maori, while in 2012 it was 22.4 percent.

In his new book, Sir Geoffrey has confirmed that while in government he behaved like an autocrat, exercising absolute power. He appears convinced that he knows best, and has set up a system to ensure that his view of the universe is imposed regardless of what anyone else may think.

Therefore, if you think the treaty settlements programme has achieved the eternal life that Ronald Reagan attributed to government programmes, you may now understand how Sir Geoffrey Palmer carefully set up policies and processes that operate under the radar and outside of meaningful parliamentary oversight.

Maori, the Treaty and the Constitution – Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC,


Barry said...

I think Palmer should get life in jail for his lying treachery,

Graham Cliff said...

Like Sir Geoffrey, I am ageing, white and liberal; however, I thoroughly disagree with his reported sentiments. The difference between us is, I believe, that he subscribes to the misty-eyed myth that Maori were like Rousseau's "noble savages" - living in some sort of Eden until shamelessly exploited by the wicked Europeans. We must therefore compensate them for these wrongs; if history tells a different story, then it must be revised to fit in with this idealistic orthodoxy. To question the premises upon which such claims are made is, it appears, racist in Sir Geoffrey's eyes. I, on the other hand, hold that colonisation by the British was the best thing that ever happened to Maori because it saved them from extinction through starvation, disease, and horrendous and relentless internecine warfare. Unfortunately, it is fashionable to think as Sir Geoffrey does, because realism is so often less palatable than fantasy.

Unknown said...

Geoffrey Palmer is a fool BUT a dangerous one.

He should be burnt at the stake for his treacherous introduction of un-democratic law AND is still doing it.
He and others want to reverse what has taken millennia to achieve -Government by the people NOT government by un-elected tyrants, Kings, and probably worst of all Government by High Priests.
What Palmer wants is to re-introduce Government by the modern equivalent of High Priests , unelected High Court Judges.

But there is one area I disagree with Professor Martin Devlin:- Palmer IS part of the hand wringing white guilt ridden looney left, but the Maori party etc are not
They are tribal, or in European terms feudal, or more like the Mafia, rule and ownership of everything for the benefit of an elite few but full of nepotism and stand-over tactics. There is nothing connecting Maori Supremacy that own all the fresh water, the seabed out to 200 miles, the plants that have been here for billions of years, etc etc to the concept of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

Bill Mockridge

Anonymous said...

The treaty settlments were meant to attone for racism in the past. However they have guaranteed racial tension in the future. How much longer before we can all just get on with being "Kiwis" and forget all this divisive crap?

paul scott said...

I ordered Geoffrey Palmer out of this Country ten years ago, old yellow tooth, the disaster to our beloved Country I sent him to Greenland, but nobody took any notice

Anonymous said...

Pity we can't take politicians such as Geoffrey Palmer, John Keys and Chris Finlayson to court for treason.

Pity the part-Maori that make up the negative statistics in Welfare pay-outs can't take Corporate Iwi leaders to court for not sharing the wealth and empowering their people to have pride in who they are coupled with basic living and job skill education. . .

Pity ALL NZers can't live together without one sector trying to force THEIR culture on others.

Pity our politicians are so busy creating a generation of new injustices giving away what all NZers previously had 'rights' to that they ignore other domestic problems like pay inequalities, moving factories to China, packaging laws, revisionist history books our children are being taught . . . the list goes on . . .

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for bringing this stuff to the forefront Mike.. Most don't know, or are so brainwashed by years of lies indoctrination that they cant think logically on this topic. Dare to mention the word Maori and its cries of redneck.

Our government has bankrupt this country pandering to the iwi elite. Only most just don't realise it yet. With debt from $14.6 billion when National and the Maori party took the helm, to a whopping $101 billion now.. It just took 7 years for the Maori and the National parties to ramp up so much debt and much of it rorted by the corrupt treaty tribunal.. And yet still the politicians cry, poor Maori statistics.

Maori have access to every facility and social service that every other ethnicity has.

Maori have many special and racial privileges and funding that no other race have.

On top of all that, Maori have the supposed backing of their iwi's via funds rorted from us New Zealanders.

So Maori are in a far more privileged position than any other race in NZ..
And yet we keep hearing about the poor Maori statistics.

I think there needs to be an investigation in to what has happened. All treaty settlements need to be reviewed and any found to be fraudulent need the perpetrators to be held accountable.

The only party that is prepared to do this is the Conservative party. Its' one of their policies.. They get my vote every election.