Friday, May 16, 2014

Mike Butler: Pushing amalgamation co-governance

While submitting against council amalgamation in Hawke’s Bay I argued against the creation of a Maori Board. A Local Government Commission member told me to re-read Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi that he asserted promised to Maori co-governance.

Proposals for council amalgamations are in progress in Northland and in Hawke’s Bay. The commission heard oral submissions in Napier and Hastings this week.

In my submission I argued against amalgamation for four reasons, that the proposal: Included little evidence of improved economic performance, would bring bigger and more costly local government, higher rates, and a Maori Board subverts one-person-one vote democracy.

My response to the commissioner was a request for him to show me where in Article 2 the treaty promised co-governance. I also asked the commission chair Basil Morrison, who sits on the Waitangi Tribunal, to explain to his colleague the error of his views.

Article 2 says in the English text that is closest to the Maori:
The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and the tribes and to all the people of New Zealand, the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property. But the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes and the other chiefs grant to the Queen, the exclusive rights of purchasing such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as may be agreed upon between them and the person appointed by the Queen to purchase from them.
No mention of co-governance there. So where could such an idea come from? A look at the Waitangi Tribunal website section on the meaning of treaty shows that the tribunal says
As a result, in this article (Article 1), Maori believe they ceded to the Queen a right of governance in return for the promise of protection, while retaining the authority they always had to manage their own affairs.


The Maori version of article 2 uses the word “rangatiratanga” in promising to uphold the authority that tribes had always had over their lands and taonga. This choice of wording emphasises status and authority. (1)
No co-governance there either. Not even the Waitangi Tribunal, with its redefined treaty, supports the view that a local government commissioner is pushing around the country -- that Article 2 of the treaty promises co-governance.

Because a local government commissioner has standing on questions of local government above that of a regular citizen, his utterances on local government may be taken as more authoritative than those of an ordinary fair-minded citizen. Unfortunately in this case, his utterance is demonstrably wrong. Why is he pedaling this nonsense around the country?

Such utterances are seized upon by those who stand to benefit from extra seats as of right with voting powers and funding for people appointed by local tribal corporations. This extra "right" puts those appointees ahead of everyone, including most Maori. This extra "right" subverts our system of governance that operates on the principle of one-person-one-vote for everyone aged 18 and over, including all Maori.

The Waitangi Tribunal interpretation cites the words "kawanatanga" and “rangatiratanga". What do these mean? The treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori. The word “kawanatanga” in Article 1 was used to translate the word “sovereignty” and “rangatiratanga” in article 2 for “possession”.

As the tribunal opined in the above quote Maori (in 1840) "believe they ceded to the Queen a right of governance in return for the promise of protection, while retaining the authority they always had to manage their own affairs".

It’s a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too argument in which late 20th century tribunal members put their wishes into the thoughts of mid-19th century chiefs to create a treaty in which Article 1 gave a limited right for the Queen and governor to govern the few settlers that were in New Zealand while the chiefs could carry on being chiefs.

But that does not correspond to the eyewitness account of missionary William Colenso of the debate that shows that some chiefs objected to having the governor or the Queen as an over lord but by the end of the day the benefits of the deal outweighed the costs so they signed.

Chiefs did not carry on being chiefs. They gradually freed their slaves, turned over wrongdoers to British justice, stopped killing and eating each other, and embraced a new way of life based on law rather than the law of the club.

With the word “co-governance” absent from Article 2 of the treaty, and with the Waitangi Tribunal view that chiefs retained “the authority they always had to manage their own affairs” unsupported by history, why is the Local Government Commission pushing separate appointed Maori boards with voting rights and funding as a treaty right in amalgamation proposals?

1. Meaning of the treaty,


Brian said...

From the attitude of Councils when amalgamation and co-governance is discussed there seems to be firstly an opposition; then comes an interval, a softening up process with the Local Government Commission in connivance with the Political requirements of power to influence and present only the benefits of amalgamation.
The decision on Super Councils was made some time ago by the pundits of power in Wellington. This, despite the lessons of the costly establishment of the Auckland Super Council the progress towards co- governance is the first and only aim of this Commission.
Morrison and his cronies know full well that the apathetic attitude of most New Zealanders will never impede their plan. They will deliver local representation on a plate, ensuring the virtual isolation of any areas outside the major cities of true representation.
All we have left of our Western Democratic system is our basic right to vote for or against any measure that seeks to change our central or local Constitution. If the Local Government Commission “persuades” (the right word is probably intimidate” Councils to abandon a vote upon this issue, then our last alternative will be:-
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,

Anonymous said...

Mike I always thought you were a progressive person. To be against the amalgamation of the Hawkes Bay Councils show a lack of understanding in the local development. Hastings can see the benefits while Napierites live in a cacoon and dont want any one to let them out. Hawkes Bay has had nil growth since 2006 because they do not work to develop Hawkes Bay as one. You need to live here to listen to the negative people in Napier who are worried about hastings debt. All Napier citizens including the Mayor want to live away for 2 years to open their minds up to the opportunities if everyone works together instead of belittling the other city because of their cacoon mentality. Its childish. Progress is good for everyone. It will only happen when Hawkes Bay have one council working to develop Hawkes Bay. Cheers Bill

Glenn G said...

Bill all you need to do is look at the Auckland Council which would have to be one of the most disfunctional useless organisations in the country that is such a huge lumbering giant that is getting further & further in debt & has all these stupid idiological ideas that detract from what a council should actually be doing that have been dreamt up by the clever academics that are all in la la land. Put that together with a bunch of greedy maoris that are slowly but surely gaining control of NZ by stealth aided by all the clever academics that put up a smoke screen so that all the apathetic NZers have no idea what is happening until it is too late & you too will have a recipe for disaster as we have in Auckland.

Sarah said...

Incredible to think that elected officials openly pedalling "co-governance". Brilliant reveal, as usual, Mike. Keep up the good work