Since my Council’s decision to bypass the voters of this region in a flagrant exhibition of arrogance rarely seen in this community, l have tried to put the case for why this undemocratic move is not in the best interests of all the citizens of Tairawhiti - particularly those who claim Maori decent.
For my trouble l have been defamed by just about every activist who thinks those of us with an alternative point of view are some form of low life with no right to challenge the legitimacy of any Council decision.
It also worries me that the Editor of our newspaper should embrace one side of this debate to the extent that he has - particularly in the misuse of his position as the final arbiter of what constitutes fair comment and as such, qualifies for uncritical publication. Sadly, this unfortunate situation has got to the point where l am no longer able to offer critical comment or an alternative view about the activities of those who run this region because of concerns that it will not reach the readers in a form that even partially resembles the original script.
The reason why my writings are the only ones being challenged is simply because l bat for the other side. A rather juvenile attempt to stifle my voice but unfortunately an effective one.
In reality, it is censorship that would make the dark characters of Orwell’s masterpiece blush.
Who would have thought that the scenario he predicted in “1984” would have been allowed to appear in the leading democracies of our time.
Tragically, the evidence is undeniable.
We see governments being elected throughout the so called “free world” where the result is determined by the political persuasion and unrestrained interference of the victorious party’s faceless, unelected major backers.
In the US, the new administration is showing signs of reverting to the appeasement strategy that was a major part of US foreign policy during the Obama Presidency.
It looks as if the 4 years of Trump have only temporarily halted the dangerous unrestrained advances of the Chinese and Iranian dictatorships. Both of them will be emboldened by the weak Biden administration which appears to be no longer interested in being a counter to their expansionist moves.
The whole word should be very concerned that we have well and truly thrown the baby out with the bath water.
You didn’t have to like Trump to understand that he was the only thing standing between us and some major conflicts that could have escalated to a Third World War.
Truck loads of cash and doing deals with the President’s son won’t be enough to stop these thugs when they feel the time is right.
Here’s hoping l’m wrong.
Now back to local matters. l will now present some undeniable evidence that backs my claim that there is no longer any need for the affirmative action such as that proposed in numerous Councils’ decisions to introduce Maori wards - in fact it appears that Maori throughout New Zealand have demonstrated over recent years that they are more than capable of improving their position in society without too much help from the rest of us.
This revelation was reinforced in a recent TV 1 news broadcast which stated that the Maori economy had shown substantial growth over recent years based on assets of $68.7 billion (2018 BERL report). Put another way, these figures suggest the Maori economy represents a significant part of the national economy - $207 billion GDP (2020) and credit must go to those who have done the hard yards in achieving these impressive growth figures.
Again, the point l want to make about these statistics is that Maori are no longer in need of affirmative action in order to take advantage of the opportunities available to them in this maliciously labelled “inherently racist society.”
Today’s economic information proves that beyond reasonable doubt.
We don’t help Maori achieve their objectives of greater self determination by continually promoting the myth that these demonstrably decent, innovative and hardworking people are somehow in constant need of support from the State which invariably comes at the expense of similar opportunities that might otherwise be available to other New Zealanders.
In fact, the low decile communities where l live that have Maori majorities approaching 80% of the total population, are very proud of what they have achieved under their own steam - so much so that they have often respectfully resisted offers of outside help that have had the capacity to change their living standards for the better. Many realise that they can make it on their own and if possible, would prefer to do so because outside help often comes with strings attached. If you look at how Iwi throughout the country have used their settlement money, invariably the results show a business confidence and competence that equals most of their competitors. A key factor in their success is their determination to retain control of their asset base and use it wisely in the interests of their own people. Interestingly, the previous head of Eastland’s dominant Iwi (Ngati Porou), the late Dr. Apirana Mahuika told me in a private conversation before his death that he wasn’t interested in “partnerships” but preferred to build “relationships” with people he could trust. That way, his people remained in control of their own destiny.
I suspect he would be disappointed with the way his efforts are being eroded through the self serving antics of some of his Rohe who have the cheek to compare their leadership qualifications with the great man.
Unfortunately, there is a vocal, influential minority who want a “bob each way”
Ironically, the Maoris who are the strongest advocates of Maori wards in this region are also the most vocal in rejecting genuine offers of help when they turn up.
On the one hand, they want to remain enjoying a lifestyle in a manner to which they have become accustomed yet expect others (local ratepayers) to pay for it.
The majority of people l know would prefer that we just get out of the way and let them get on with it. The world would be a better place if we only listened to them.
Unfortunately, last weekend’s announcement by Minister Mahuta has put an end to all that wishful thinking.
Those of us who have been attempting a push back against the introduction of Maori wards are devastated to learn that all our efforts to block these undemocratic manoeuvres by legitimate means will come to nothing.
The Government seems determined to stamp out this democratic “insurrection” using the full power of its office. I imagine they will be disappointed that the leaders of this movement are not locked up for their trouble - such is the venomous attacks on anyone who was brave enough to put their heads above the parapet on this issue.
However, l believe that the repercussions for the Government and any Local Government who has arbitrarily given notice of introducing Maori Wards will be felt at the next elections, both local body and at the National level.
There is hope.
My experience of witnessing the widespread reaction to these undemocratic moves has taught me that they have bitten off more than they can chew.
As Australia’s former PM, Goff Whitlam famously said at his sacking years ago “God Save The Queen because nothing will save the Governor General!”
Although his prediction didn’t happen the way he would have hoped, l reckon the backlash here for this somewhat similar betrayal might be significantly different.
Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.