Saturday, October 3, 2020

Bruce Moon: Democracy in Peril

Article 21 (3) of the UN Declaration of Human Rights:

The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

A Nelson Incident

Nelson is generally considered to be one of the more congenial cities in New Zealand and perhaps in the world – the climate mild and the people relaxed. As is to be expected, there are rather less residents of part-Maori descent than in most North Island towns. They are well integrated into the community, at least as noted by this observer, and follow a variety of trades and other occupations. Nelson also has a good record in welcoming refugees and settlers from other parts of the world, Bhutanese of Nepali descent being just one example. The children of both newly settled and old play together happily at kindergarten, all well on the way to becoming good citizens of their town and country.[i]

People being what they are, some years ago a move was initiated to confer more political power on those of part Maori descent, giving them a special Maori ward on the Nelson City Council. In a ratepayer-initiated poll in May 2012, 79% of voters rejected this move. The result was abundantly clear – Nelson did not want such racist privilege.

And so councillors elected in 2019 were surely well aware of the wishes of those they were to represent.

But in New Zealand, racism never sleeps. At its meeting on 22 September 2020, the Nelson City Council “voted not to pursue a Maori ward”, citing “discriminatory laws” as a reason.[ii]

Well now, by just what twisted line of reasoning does the worthy Council consider that legislation is “discriminatory” - in the reported words of Mayor Rachel Reese[iii] - when it protects us against flagrant racism which would give more power to one section of the community? Moreover, she is to write to the Local Government Minister, asking for a change to the 2001 Local Electoral Act to remove this protection of what she calls, inexplicably a “discriminatory piece of legislation” which is there to thwart racist discrimination!

To all this, Ngati Rarua spokesman Shane Graham comments “All we want is a voice at the table, ... to partner with our partners”. Well, what other special interest group would not likewise want “a voice at the table”? Nice work if you can get it. And of course he trots out the fake “partnership”, now a basic article of faith to Governor-General Patsy Reddy[iv] and through all ranks of government.

Labour Party member Brian McGurk is quoted as saying ”the racists and bigots will be in full cry” if another poll were to be conducted. Racists and bigots, Brian? Surely not those people who oppose the special privilege of racist representation? Perhaps you could look in the mirror to see what a real racist looks like!

And to teenage councillor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens, the recommendation did not go far enough to condemn the “disgraceful and racist law regarding Maori wards”. Well no, Rohan, the present law is there precisely to protect us against any disgraceful and racist provision for special Maori wards. Chiming in, councillor Pete Rainey calls the absence of an elected Maori voice a “dark scar on local government”.

Well, no, worthy councillors. You appear to have forgotten the people you are there to represent and 79% of them do not want any section of the community to have any council members chosen by a racist process.

In concluding Mayor Rachel Reese claims that “the legislation is poor” and that “to say nothing ... is not representative of the partnership we have with iwi”. Such a “partnership” may be her delusion. It is not shared by 79% of those Nelson people who expressed their views. As she received less than 30% of the valid votes for mayor cast at the 2019 Council election, she may care to reflect on how limited is her support amongst the people of the city of Nelson and to temper her actions accordingly.

But the Issues Go Far Beyond Nelson

The issues which this incident raise go much beyond the prejudices of the Mayor and some members of the Nelson City Council. In fourteen polls around the country, by my count, voters have said “No” to Maori wards, in most cases by very emphatic majorities. The issue has now been raised again in New Plymouth District Council, notwithstanding 82% of voters in a poll there in 2015 saying “No” to a Maori ward.[v]

It is quite evident that most New Zealanders do not want to be defined by race, as even Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), the union representing the country’s 78 local bodies has discovered. Indeed some councils having been informed by a variety of Maori groups that “such wards would not have the support of mana whenua”.[vi]

Yet LGNZ, led by Dunedin Mayor, Dave Cull, wrote an open letter in March 2018 to the Government seeking the abolition of petition rights to demand a poll where a council has sought to establish a Maori ward. Such people hold in contempt the Treaty of Waitangi which promised equal rights to all the people of New Zealand “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani”.

There are constitutional issues here in which the public voice has a fundamental right to be heard. The existing poll right with respect to a Maori ward is a constitutional right of all New Zealanders and any attempt to remove it should properly be put to a national referendum. Again, if a Maori ward were to be established on any Council, it would be necessary to use the Maori electoral roll to determine who were enfranchised for it, another constitutional change on which we are all entitled to have a say.

New Zealanders have shown that they will vote for any good candidate. Racial origin does not count.

We may ignore these danger signs at our peril or very soon we shall find ourselves accelerating down that slippery slope which already the Government’s fake “partnership” is propelling us until the day comes when the concepts of universal and equal suffrage are but a distant memory. 


[i] For several months I was a volunteer storyteller at Nelson South kindergarten and so speak from personal experience.

[ii] Tim Newman, ‘stuff’, 22 September 2020.

[iii] Ibid, as are further quotations.

[iv] In her acceptance speech.

[v] For which see Kevin Moratti’s opinion piece “Democracy and the petition on New Plymouth's Māori ward”, email 14 August 2020

[vi] As noted by Muriel Newman, “Breaking Views”, 8 April 2018.

Bruce Moon is a retired computer pioneer who wrote "Real Treaty; False Treaty - The True Waitangi Story".


Geralddownunder said...

Well written Bruce, as always.
Successive labor governments have pushed this partnership crap for far too long, the question is, how do we get the truth out there?
We need more Bruce Moon type people out there doing the good work you do.

Alan said...

Don’t kid yourself Geraldownunder. It isn’t just Labour governments that have propagated this ‘partnership’ lie. The previous Sjonkey led National government was right into it as well. For the record I’m not a left wing supporter and agree with someone who described National as ‘Labour-lite.

Anonymous said...

New Plymouth referendum about 6 years ago rejected a Maori Ward. It came up for Council debate again in the last few months and was passed. There were Councillors, who are still Councillors today and voted for a Maori Ward recently, who voted back then for a Maori Ward. I wonder what has transpired in the interim for them to vote again for a Maori Ward. Certainly the results of the referendum then didn't mean anything to them now
" NPDC Councillors previously voted for a Māori ward in 2014. Following the decision, a petition was organised and a binding poll was held in 2015: 21,053 (83%) of people voted against, 4,285 (17%) voted for."
Some more civically person than myself will hopefully arrange for another referendum soon.

Mervyn said...

To understand "Partnership" we need to go back to 18th century philosopher John Locke upon which English Constitiutional Government, the Americal Declaration of Indepence and its Ammendments and the Treaty of Waitangi are premised. Man are born with fundamental rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of belief and the ownership of the fruits of one's endeavors, ie private property and the individual supports the Government on the basis it is the Gvts first duty to uphold those rights. In other words there is a partnership between each individual and the Gvt.. At the signing of the Treaty individual Maori had no such rights., they were members of collectives and controlled by the rules of the collective. The Treaty conferred individual rights on them as further emphased in the third article .The problem is Maori want individual rights and a collective right in which any individual right is subsumed. They want to be treated as individuals where it is advantageous and additionally as a tribal collective where it is advantageous without being subject to any rules of the collective
How the the rest on NZ puts up with this juvenile behaviour and wet lipped limp wristed liberals support this is beyond comprehension. Next thing they will be asking us all to apologise , wash Maori feet debase ouselves and dribble on about the undeserved White Privelege we were supposedly born with. It's in America, Britain and Australia and establishing here. It will culminate with Critical Race Theory, the elimination of individual rights and crushing communism.

Recently I was asked to complete a survey on Maori attitude to wealth by the Sociology Dept Auckland University. Apparently there is a genetic predisposition to wealth that needs to be determined. I was asked my views on rich people only , not poor people. Apparently rich people also form some moral block when it comes to money. Racism meets class warfare. Fascism arm in arm with Communism what a combination to crush freedom and democracy.

Robert Arthur said...

The public is very prudent to reject maori race based wards. I attended a hui in Auckland which addressed the recent conflict over management of local maunga. The attitude of maori with influence in senior Council position was very dismaying. I suspect most councillors are motivated to act in the greater general interest, if only to ensure re election. It was disturbingly evident that the overriding maori attitude was not to suit the amenity users (including maori), but to spite whitey for imagined wrongs of the distant past (like cheaply purchasing then unpopulated Auckland at a time when it was seen by maori as of negligible value). Maori ward members are motivated to appeal to their voters. Thwarting the requirement of majority non maori is guaranteed to raise profile, mana, and re election prospects. So maori ward members are likely to be doggedly obstructive of most progressive proposals by others, and to contribute little of general benefit. The types likely to be put forward for election seem to closely associate with like minded activists and all tend to exert similar united negative attitudes.

Anonymous said...

We need a press that is not biased and give equal weight to both sides. At present anything that does not favour Maori is not published Regards Arthur

Allan said...

Geralddownunder; have you forgotten who signed : "The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People". That, & the myth that The Treaty of Waitangi, somehow kept us divided & not united, is starting to destroy any chance of moving forward as a nation.

Unknown said...

Bruce, brilliant. I would like to say brave, but should not have to. The true implementation of the meaning of Freedom of Speech should allow us all to speak like Bruce has but reverse racism, which is becoming worse rapidly, suffocates the willingness of good people to speak out.
Brian Walker.

KP said...

Nice to see it written down concisely, its a pity this article isn't in the Herald.
When I returned after living in South Africa for about 8 years it was amazing how much apart-hate had taken off in NZ. Certainly the easy-going NZ of my youth had vanished and been replaced by a lot of screaming half-castes determined to separate the races and make themselves rich in way that would have shamed their ancestors.
Australia is much more pleasant to live in now.

Unknown said...

Thank you Bruce, as always, right on target.
Just reading your wonderful book and recommending it to all.

Also thanks to Mervyn, we need you well educated, informed and
articulate New Zealanders no matter what your ethnicity !!


Unknown said...

Interesting article as always, Bruce. It is my concern that during these Election times not one Political party has addressed the biggest challenge facing New Zealand over the next decade or two. It's not Covid 19, the Economic Recovery or even Climate Change.

It's Racial unrest.

We see Maori activists determined to break down our society - calling for "Partnership" where none is mentioned in the Treaty. DHB's are already prioritising health on Racial grounds instead of clinical need. Even with 1/8th Maori blood you get to jump the queue. What happened to the 7/8 European genes - are these all bad? Otago University is allowing Maoris studying medicine a 74% pass while others must achieve 94%. I know which Doctor I would prefer.
Anyone who can remember back 30 or 40 years will recall a time when NZ was a very equal society where Race was not an issue as it is today. We were all against apartheid in South Africa. Now Maori activists want apartheid here. Unless of course Apartheid only runs in one direction - White against black or brown.
Why can't we all be "one People" as the Treaty states. I'd like to see a "Colourblind" society where we are all New Zealanders with equal legal, health, education rights. Race is our culture; whether it be Maori, European, Asian, Pacifica etc. and should be how we live our private lives.