Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Gerry Eckhoff: Recovering Mayors

The Mayor of New Plymouth Andrew Judd’s choice of words in defining himself as a “recovering” racist is cute, somewhat unusual but entirely his to make. Mr Judd’s mistake however was to describe and imply his personal opinions are indicative of what he assumes are also the racist opinions of the wider public or indeed councils on Maoridom throughout New Zealand. 

He appears not to understand that what is actually at stake here is the relationship between the public's widespread and long standing acceptance of one person one vote and the erosion of that fundamental principle by appointed representatives based on ethnicity. It has also been reported that Judd wanted half his council to be Maori as of right which could well be offensive to many Maori who may wish to stand as a ratepayer - not defined by race, cultural or any historical grievance or connection.

Patronizing sanctimony towards any race of people has no place ahead of understanding the crucial drivers of a well-functioning representative democracy. Regretfully, Andrew Judd as the elected leader of the council apparently saw an opportunity to push this agenda ahead of principled decision-making by councilors who are duty bound to understand that the allocation of privilege in all its forms has no place within local or central Government. It needs to be remembered that the New Plymouth councilors who rejected the mayor’s proposal, did not elect Judd as their leader - the public did, which makes his views on the wider public decision to reject race based representation, all the more surprising.  

Nobody however should be surprised at the widespread interest in Mayor Judd’s controversial personal opinion which he is perfectly entitled to hold. I suspect he thought “his” council would follow his lead, to which he reacted.

To comment or even promote a point of view that differs from the conventional wisdom of the day is to invite a public flogging albeit in a verbal way - in these enlightened times. Another wonderful example is the environmental debate where opprobrium is heaped on those who do not see climate change (it used to be called global warming) as anything other than a natural occurrence with some help from fossil fuels. 

Receiving your fair share of abuse (as Mr. Judd undoubtably has) from those who always know better, is something of a badge of courage to be worn with some pride. Whether they be those with strident views on the environment, or reformers of the sheep industry, they tend to believe theirs is the one and only true God. The Middle East is a most appallingly tragic case in point as those with extreme views seek to impose their beliefs on all others. At least in New Zealand most adhere to the principle of equality of all people before the law. Our law makers – whether in Central or Local Government were always elected by due process – until now it would seem.

There would be an uproar if Governments gave those rate and taxpayers who paid twice the amount of tax than others, two votes instead of one because of their contribution to the nation’s coffers.  

Equally unjust would be a proposition that all Maori over the age of sixteen should be given a type of “gold card” concession to exclude them from paying GST due to their ancestors being some of the first people in NZ. If we as a country were to establish that or a similar principle, then those Europeans who emigrated to NZ in the first ships to arrive should also be given special legislative status. Where then does that leave recent immigrants to NZ who fled their own country to leave behind the tribal selective privilege which our own Government is now proposing.

Andrew Judd is correct to say that a reasoned and widespread debate should be held before any decisions can be made but given that the Government has had six or so years of secret discussions with Iwi over fresh water governance, it is fair to say that the public will have no say and even less influence over the process to decide the makeup of their local council into the future.

Democratic freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it (Pericles c495 BC)

It seems to me that the public's rejection of Mr. Judd’s view on race based representation is a sure sign the public are indeed prepared to defend their freedoms even if their elected Mayor is not.

It is also worth remembering that this year is election year for Local Government councilors and Mayors. Enough said!


paul scott said...

Blessed be they like you Gerry who are moderate and euphemistic.
Lets get down to it. Mayor Judd is an out and out non recovering racist.
He promotes the introduction of race based Councillors who are to be appointed , not voted for. What ?
Yes, The miserable New Zealanders general can have a few seats on Council if the electors vote them in.
The Maori can be both voted in, and if not, or as well, he can be appointed in,
And that’s not appointed by you and me.
That appointed in by some raced based authority. What ? This guy is recovering from racism?.
If I lived in New Plymouth I would stand against this Judd fellow on one platform.

No race based seats on any Council
No race based seats in Parliament
No race based appointments in New Zealand at all.

Some one should twist David Seymou’rs hand up his back on this issue also.
He could easily raise the ACT membership by speaking out against racism David .

Ray S said...

An article in the Papakura Courier of 18 May by Willie Jackson hails Judd as a hero.
Among other things he quotes Judd, "Pakeha,not just in Taranaki but all over the country must come to terms with their own racism"
It seems that only white New Zealanders are racists.
Jackson it seems, believes that maori should have council seats as of right rather than be elected on merit. Not very democratic, but then tribalism is not a functioning democracy.
I recall Howie Tamati was elected to the New Plymouth council on merit, not too difficult one would think.

Willie Jackson, quite a european sounding name, pity his views are so distorted.

Barry said...

It was good to see that racist Andrew Judd treated as he deserved by decent NZers. They rightly despised him for his ugly racism.

Unknown said...

Mr Judd describes himself as a recovering racist, however, I would describe him as an evolving racist. To say one race should be represented by 50percent of council members when that race is only appproximately 16-18 percent of the population is ridiculous.
Councils are meant to represent the whole community - where is the Asian compulsory percentage, the African compulsory percentage, and for that matter the European compulsory percentage? Mr Judd needs to realise that when a council is elected it represents its area but when appointed because of being "Maori" it represents nothing - even those of Maori descent did not vote for those people.
In new Zealand we are getting to the point where we look ridiculous. We are not a raciist country - there are people elected from all races on our councils, in our parliament, on boards and associtions throughout the country. They are elected because the people who vote them into those positions have confidence that they are qualified to be there. And for the rest? Racially dumped "extras" who do nothing but hold back progress, are not qualified for the job at hand, and have only one agenda - money. And the "Treaty" .... well, today's treaty bears no resemblance to what was signed. It should not be called the Waitangi Treaty because it is not any more. The "Transformer Treaty" would be more appropriate.

Philip H said...

Well said Gerry. While we're on the subject of appointing part-Maori people to Councils, is that not what we now have on the Auckland Council, NZ's largest? I think they go by the title of Maunga (Authority)or some such word. And they have voting rights on important committees and power to stop us ratepayers doing things such as driving to the top of "their" mountains, etc. Doubtless paid handsomely by the ratepayers. Part-Maori every one.

I'm always astonished how little public outcry there is about this anti-democratic, race-based arrangement, which was stealthily foisted on to Aucklanders with the help of the National government during the late stage of the setting up of the new Council, as I understand it. Isn't this the very thing that the people of New Plymouth have rejected? Or am I mistaken?

Anonymous said...

Judd appeared on TV waving a book,"Healing Our History," R&J Consedine, and seemed to have had an epiphany after reading it. Hoping the same might happen to me I have been studying it over the last few days and am sadly disappointed. well written and interesting it is based on false premises that invalidate the pious hopes expressed.
A better source of revelation is the diary of William Colenso particularly his eye-witness account of the signing of the Treaty. The bewildered chiefs obviously did not understand what was going on and followed the lead of Hone Heke who himself was trying to undo the Treaty within a very short time. Hobson said "Now we are one people" to each chief who signed. Maori became British subjects and to suggest they needed special concessions would have been insulting.