Friday, March 19, 2021

John Bell: Confronting Separatism

Each year, on 25 January, Scots around the world  gather to celebrate the birthday of their National Poet – Robbie Burns. This commemoration usually takes the form of a Burns Supper, but Scots in Auckland, Hokitika, Timaru and Dunedin also have the option of an event featuring their town’s fine statue of the poet.  The statue in Dunedin’s Octagon, by noted 19th century sculptor, Sir John Steele, is one of three modelled on his famous original in Dundee, the others being in New York and London.

Given the status of Dunedin’s Burns statue, I was concerned a few years ago to find that it had been disrespectfully adorned by a group of Maori staging a Parihaka protest in the Octagon. I wrote to the DCC expressing the view that, whatever the merits of the cause the Parihaka protesters were espousing, that did not entitle them to show disrespect for the culture and heritage of others, especially that of the city’s Scottish founders. I requested that the DCC require future groups allowed to use the Octagon to show proper respect for the city’s iconic Burns statue. The reply I received advised that no action was being taken not because my case lacked merit but because I was the only person  who had lodged such an objection.

Therein lies an essential truth about politics. Politics is about numbers not logic. 

For more than 30 years, books and articles have explained the significance of Article 3 of the Treaty of Waitangi and its unifying granting of British Citizenship to all New Zealand’s inhabitants; the One New Zealand Foundation has correctly promoted the case for Queen Victoria’s Charter to be seen as our actual founding document and for the relegation of the Treaty to the status of a “simple nullity”;   Hobson’s Pledge have recalled Hobson’s statement He iwi kotahi tatou  as a reminder that the Treaty was supposed to unite rather than divide us. And yet the cause of separatism marches on.

The separatism agenda is an extension of the treaty claims process which, if “full and final” is to be taken at face value, should by now have pretty much run its course. Separatism is the antithesis of democracy; its aim is the transfer of ever-increasing wealth and power  into the hands of those who claim to represent some 15%  of the population. It is to be understood as New Zealand’s version of apartheid.

Central to the separatist agenda is the notion that the Treaty created a partnership between two equal parties: a) Maori, and b) the Crown, representing everyone else. Paradoxically, the separatist agenda uses the language of inclusion; we are encouraged to acquiesce in the separatist agenda as a means of promoting “participation” and “partnership”. Yet increasingly, we find ourselves divided into two camps with those identified as Maori having separate educational requirements and funding, separate health needs and entitlements, separate electoral provisions, separate course admission entitlements, to name but a few. Even individuals find themselves separatised, with focus on their Maori ancestry and virtual denial of what is commonly their majority (usually British) heritage.

How has an entire society become conditioned to acquiesce in this agenda or, at least, learn not to dare openly challenge it?   

First came the “inclusive” notion that there should be a “Maori dimension” to all things. I recall being told, in the early 1990’s, that all subjects in the Secondary Curriculum were to have a Maori dimension. When told that I was expected to demonstrate a Maori dimension for the French language (which I was teaching) my reaction was: “Don’t be so bl….y  stupid.” Most of my colleagues, however, appeared to comply. Now we find Sir Jerry Mateparae calling for a Maori dimension to be assured in the oversight of Health research and Stephen Franks warning that any legal academic who speaks out against the inclusion of tikanga within our legal system may be compromising his/her future employment.

Next came the replacement of everyday expressions in our English language with Maori terms. The words “family” and “children” are disappearing from current use, more and more print communications open with Kia ora and end with Nga mihi, and even TV1’s Andrew Saville has acquired one sentence in Maori which he laboriously recites nightly before getting down to the evening’s Sports News.    

The mental conditioning involved in accepting that Maori terminology is increasingly part of New Zealand’s English language creates a climate of acceptance for the practice of having iwi appointees on advisory bodies that influence almost every aspect of our lives. The ODT’s columnist, Jim Sullivan, recently expressed tongue-in-cheek surprise that there is, as yet, no iwi nominee on the Broadcasting Standards Authority; how did they miss out?

Finally, in late 2019, the end game emerged via a blatant challenge to our democracy. On behalf of the Canterbury Regional Council, Rino Tirikatene introduced a Local Bill to the House aimed at empowering Ngai Tahu to appoint its own unelected members to ECan. With National ACT and NZ First opposed, the Bill failed at its First Reading in 2020, but it is a sobering thought that, had it been introduced a year later, it would have been passed leaving Ngai Tahu, a major owner of dairy farms, having unelected power within the body that controls the nation’s greatest freshwater resource.

It is clear that the separatist agenda will not settle for token representation. Over a decade ago, Peter/Pita Sharples, as co-leader of the Maori Party, openly stated that the Westminster system of democracy was not suited to New Zealand’s (or rather iwi’s) needs, and it is now apparent that those claiming to represent only 15% of the population aim at no less than 50% of political power.

What is to be done in the face of this threat?

Thus far, the most obvious success in opposing the advance of separatism has come via the forcing of referenda that have rejected the imposition of Maori Wards in local authorities; that success was however the cause of its own undoing. For it was the Establishment that had enabled petitions calling for referenda to occur and, when the Establishment found that those petitions were blocking the Establishment’s own agenda, it was the easiest of things to change the rules.

What has been achieved by other means such as the writing/publishing of books exposing the nation’s drift towards apartheid? If Tross Publications’ “Twisting the Treaty” (2014) could not rouse the public against separatism, no publication will; it didn’t.    

What, then, of plans to capture the balance of political power? In the lead-up to the 2017 election, there was great hope that, if NZ First could capture the balance of power, they would lead a charge against separatism. That happened; they didn’t. For the 2020 election, New Conservatives had strong anti-separatist policy but kept it largely hidden. It is now highly unlikely that any political party will overtly challenge iwi-led separatism until it is obvious that such policy, doomed in advance to media hostility, would nevertheless enjoy an election-winning level of support. Demonstrating that level of public support is the challenge that now faces all groups opposed to race-based separatism.

Such organisations have thus far failed to mobilise obvious and significant opposition to the separatist agenda. Only when such opposition is mobilised are political parties likely to respond to it with appropriate policy. They want to win elections, not champion causes. What is needed is an organisation with a central co-ordinating and resourcing structure linked to local activist groups that can contest issues as they arise. With all anti-separatist groups that have formed thus far based in the North Island, it should not be overlooked that some of the greatest prizes are being pursued by Ngai Tahu in the South.

While we await the emergence of such an organisation, what is the concerned individual to do?

Obviously, we should continue to go through the motions of supporting petitions calling for public ownership of the coast, etc. and of continuing to make submissions opposing such proposals as the new woke History syllabus for schools and the imposition of a wahi tapu as currently in the Queenstown Lakes District. However, we need not delude ourselves into imagining that the Establishment will take the slightest notice of even a massive majority view opposed to its agenda.

In order to impact on that agenda, we need to impact on the prevailing public mood, and, in order to do that, we need to start impacting on the practices that have created that public mood. To a fair degree, that comes down to the use of language for, as was pointed out in a recent NZCPR article, George Orwell observed that he/she who controls language controls the mind.

There is no need for someone to start a communication with Kia ora and conclude with Nga mihi;  it is a choice.  We too can decide to do likewise in a language of our choosing. Being of Scottish descent, I use Gaelic and have armed myself with an arsenal of terms that cover most situations. Government departments and local bodies are prime targets for a bit of Gaelic. Of course, on my own, I have no impact, but if a few thousand individuals followed suit, it would  become apparent that this is a multi-cultural society not bi-cultural with Maori as the default cultural identity for everyone.

Recently, a small number of objectors advised Vodafone of their intention to switch to another provider as a result of the firm’s decision to rename itself as “Vodafone Aotearoa”. Vodafone’s reaction was a mocking Haere ra. This, as I found with the DCC, is the likely outcome when an individual challenges a large organisation. A challenge by individuals to the gratuitous Maorification of our language  is more likely to be effective in the field of charitable donations / memberships. Most organisations who solicit donations seem to stick to English; for those that do not, I have a one-page explanation (here) as to why this has resulted in their receiving no donation. After being a member for over three decades, I recently resigned my membership of Forest and Bird after the CEO wished me Merry Christmas in Maori in 2019 and 2020, advising (here) that I found this culturally offensive. Another organisation to which I annually donate around $700 appears to have reverted to English-only communications rather than lose my donation, so this would appear to be a field in which only a few hundred individuals could have quite an impact. Cleansing the charitable sector of divisive language use is an achievable goal for individuals if all concerned individuals take action.

Last year, I found myself chatting to a very personable chap at a Petanque tournament; he told me he had played the game from an early age having grown up in Vanuatu and added, “I speak French”. To which I replied, “Et moi aussi.” This came as a surprise and, ever since, when we meet up we switch to his first language, he knowing that I speak it easily. This is an appropriate use of a language other than English. The systematic imposition of Maori phrases completely out of cultural context is something quite different. It underpins a wider political agenda, but it is open to challenge by individuals as a starting point in making effective opposition to that agenda.      

It is not difficult to withhold donations / membership fees and explain why no money is forthcoming, and it is not difficult to respond in Gaelic or some other language to endless tokenist salutations in Maori. Language has been used to underpin the imposition of a separatist agenda but language can equally be used to symbolise growing opposition to it and thus encourage wider action in defence of our democracy. While we await the emergence of an organisation capable of co-ordinating large-scale opposition to race-based separatism, individuals can nevertheless make an impact by challenging the practice of social conditioning through language. This is something we can all DO!

Bi làidir (= stay strong)

John Bell is a former secondary teacher with grass-roots political experience including in the National Party and PPTA. 


TimS said...

Right on! Music to my ears. Give this man a Milky Bar!

Jigsaw said...

I agree- we need a national organization that has local branches to combat the now galloping charge of Maori racial separatism. Unfortunately I still can't see this happening in the near future as the water is still apparently not hot enough for the 'frogs' to feel uncomfortable. The slight of hand using kindness and 'what difference will it actually make' as an excuse to look the other way are all enabling us to slide further down the slope and into the sort of racially divided society that we once protested against internationally. If you take stock of just how far we have actually travelled down this road the situation is becoming urgent.

Phil said...

The lady who complained to Vodafone then found herself named and mocked by the NZ media. If the full force of the media is turned on private citizens who complain in a private capacity then most people will keep their heads down from this point. The retired gentleman who turned over books of Jacinda found himself facing a media backlash followed by death threats and had to go into hiding. This doesn't bode well.

boudicca said...

Maith Thú John! We should all start using our ancestral languages when dealing with government departments. I might look into Old English as well as my rusty Irish Gaelic. I'm also used to German salutations since going back to Uni to complete a German language qualification. A friend of mine once addressed a meeting of work colleagues (mainly Maori and Pasifika) in Irish Gaelic. They were like WTF - that's how many of us feel when bombarded with Te Reo. I would have the courtesy however to provide a translation. You are quite right that the use of Te Reo is 'part of the plan' as outlined in the He Puapua document, along with the new history curriculum. Language has become very divisive and Orwellian. We have to push back and make it clear that WE (the 85% of various non-Maori heritage) have our own linguistic cultures. My Indian neighbours speak Hindi non-stop. I don't understand a word or it - a strange feeling, like Russian opera LOL. But they are absolutely entitled to speak their own language.

Coral said...

Hey Jacinda Do you know that your friends in the CCP have identified your characteristics as "Baizuo" (pron. bi/saw). This weakness/wokeness where you put value on anything 'other', like 'indigenous rights', islam, equity (disregarding meritocracy), is laughable to them. Listen to the people who protest your 'leadership', and fade away.

Unknown said...

Mr Bell, being of Scottish descent, it seems you lament the subsuming of Gealic in Scotland as much as Maori lament the subsuming of te reo Maori. Using Gaelic is a form of asserting your heritage I suspect? Maori are not that much different. I hear many Pakeha deriding the moderate public use of te reo Maori, despite this being native to our country. I don't hear many Maori deriding the predominant public of the English language?
Could it be that Maori are more tolerant of their fellow countrymen?

DeeM said...

I suspect the reason Maori don't deride the use of English is because it is their first language too. It's the only language most Maori speak fluently.
It's not a matter of tolerance. It's a matter of fact and reality.
When Maori make up 15% (and falling) of the NZ population then English will always be the first language, rightly so.
Anyone who wants to learn Te Reo is welcome to and there is a dedicated Maori TV channel for speakers of Te Reo. The choice is already there.

Murray Patterson said...

I have today completed the DCC "The Future of Us" document outlining my disgust at having the English Language subjugated to the Maori throughout the document.
I also pointed out that Kai Tahu did not build Dunedin, but sat around for 500 years achieving nothing of substance in our area. I could have pointed out that their major achievement was the decimation of the Moa and probably some other birdlife which disappeared back then.
I also stated that I did not wish to speak with councillors as it would be like talking to bricks.
Hopefully someone will get back to me calling me racist, as happened when I pointed out to the previous Minister in charge of seniors to stop using the word "whanau" as their major readers would be those other than Maori. The word has since disappeared from the newsletter.

GM said...

The replacement of common English words such as family, children etc with their Te Reo equivalents surely carries with it the subliminal message that only Maori families, children etc. are important - a subtle and sinister type of neuro-linguistic programming.

When dealing with coucil/government, I first point out that I don't speak Te Reo. If they persist in including it without translation, then I begin to insert phrases from other languages which I have studied - Japanese, Latin, French, German - ito my correspondence, also without translation. If they object, then I suggest that perhaps we should stick to a language we both understand.

Despite being an ardent conservationist, I too have stopped supporting Forest and Bird ($25/month)- although not only for their imposition of Te Reo, but for a radical shift to a political rather than a conservation agenda - and explained to them the reasons why.

Small actions, but I feel the need to push back somehow!

Guillaume said...

It is encouraging that people are beginning to articulate opposition and pushback. We certainly need a political entity focused, in the short term, on opposing the machinations of this government. Clearly, the problem is, apart from it being impossible to publicly speak the truth, that the mass of the population, the 85%, are unaware that separatism and Maori dominance is actually happening. More public publicity!

Pat Rossiter said...

I recently received a policy review request from the Auckland Council which had quite a few words in Maori rather than in English. As I don't speak Maori I asked for explicit translations of those words, pointing out that it was apparently differences over the meanings of various words which has led over time to many misunderstandings between Maori and "pakeha". I pointed out that peppering an English document with Maori words is sheer tokenism rather than a real attempt to provide better communication with our minority official written language population. Naturally I have received no response from the Council. As a former resident of Canada I watched the Canadian government make the switch to official bilingualism. This has meant that every official document is fully presented in both official languages; in many cases each page is columnised with English on the left and French on the right. Both languages are equally valid (and there is hell to pay when someone finds differences in the texts). If we want bilingualism (and I for one think it is a great waste of resources) then let the government present the cost in a proposed budget prior to an election with the reasons they think it is a good use of money.

Anonymous said...

I used the same comment to vodafone ceo and got the same arrogant reply!

Mary-Ann said...

It really find it annoying the odd Maori words tossed around in every conversation.
I have no problem I Maori want to speak their language but DO not ram it down my throat. There is a Maori tv channel, not that I watch it as I oppose the separatism. However when I am flicking thru channels it amazes me that it is all in English.
Why is it not all in Maori?
Might it be that most of them don't speak or understand it?
Might it be that attendance would drop?
I am an all black fan and last game I watched in the pub.
An older Maori gentleman sat next to me and began to talk about how many people would approach to teach them some common words.
I just nodded. At the end of the night he said something in Maori.
He did translate it for me but he wanted me to repeat it.
As I was irritated by this I responded in Dutch as that is mr heritage.
He again repeated himself so I repeated myself in Dutch again and I left.
New Zealand is fast tracking to, if not already, apartheid which is a shame.
We are multicultural and should embrace all cultures and not single one out.

Kath and Ray said...

RWS said,
The comments of many above are very valid which I support. English is the international language of commerce throughout the world. Why else would foreigners come to New Zealand to learn it. This alone justifies keeping it as pure as possible. Recently I had occasion to meet up with an Ethiopian professional person who spoke perfect English and she had emigrated only four years ago. I did not ask but have to presume she was also fluent in her ethnic dialect. There are however many place names that appropriately are of Maori origin and perhaps more should be to give places historical significance. Should the name of this country, New Zealand, be of Dutch origin, so named by some passerby or should it be as referred to by our earlier Maori settlers. This is different to having the language muddled by an amalgam of two languages, in general speech or as written. However the English as spoken or written needs to remain as pure as is reasonably possible. There was reference to children by GM being referred to in Te Reo. Perhaps it is more respectful than the very frequent slang reference to children as Kids. What then do such people call baby goats. Language is the means by which humans communicate between one another. The more widely used in its unadulterated form the easier it is to communicate to a much wider audience whiteout confusion. This economy of this country relies on commercial transactions worldwide therefore communication throughout the world relies on clear written or verbal language. Lets keep it pure and clear as near as possible to the English that is taught and understood throughout much of the world. Also keep Te Reo as pure as possible but remain for cultural significance and not try and evolve as a modern language of regular use in communication. Increasing technology only further adds to difficulty and more so to try and add Te Reo into it as well.

Owen said...

It appears that if in New Zealand you do not have any Maori ancestry at all you are fast becoming a second class citizen.
With so many privileges such as easier entry to medical school, water rate exemptions and so on is all breaches to the "Treaty of Waitangi".
TV1's inclusion of the Maori language has only one solution. TV3.


Anonymous said...

Well said and beautifully written. For years, I, like you, have countered Maori greeting with Gaelic equivalents - being Scots-born, it's not too hard - under the pretext that "it was very kind of them to greet me in their language and I was responding the same way". Sadly, this almost never finds favour and it falls flat with a group of rather woke Europeans or enthusiastic Maoris. However, it gets the universal language back on track. I also refuse to be labelled "pakeha" which I, actually, find offensive.