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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Peter Williams: Plans for a co-governed New Zealand you should be concerned about


I want to talk about a very important issue. It’s called democracy.

As Winston Churchill once said, apparently, “no-one pretends democracy is perfect. In fact, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

But the question I think we should be asking in this country is this: is democracy under threat? 

Now, on the surface, that sounds like an absolutely preposterous proposition. After all, we are a long-standing democracy based on the Westminster or British system of letting the people decide who should govern them. We had our first elections in this country in 1853. They were not perfect though because only property owners could vote.

Over the next 40 years that changed and evolved and by 1893, when women were granted the vote, every New Zealand person aged 21 or older could vote for one nationwide parliament and for local councils. And so, for 128 years, that is the way New Zealand has been governed. We get to vote, and every vote has been of equal value. And theoretically, the majority decides the direction of travel. But are we seeing that system under threat?

I ask that in the light - not just of the city where I live and broadcast from, Tauranga, now being governed by appointed commissioners and them making decisions which the majority are likely to disagree with (like the creation of a Maori ward, and a rates rise for residential property owners that could be as high as 20 percent) - but in the very slow and almost secretive release of a paper called He Puapua during the election campaign last year, and the fact that the full paper has still not been released officially.

But if you read what is available on the Te Puni Kokiri website you should be very worried about the future of democracy as we know it in this country. In short, this paper called He Puapua is a report of a working group on a plan to realise the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or if you want for short, UNDRIP - or the DRIP.

He Puapua has what it calls a Vision 2040, just 19 years from now, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Vision says that by 2040, the government will have implemented the relevant instruments to share power more fairly with Maori in our constitutional arrangements. Now let that sink in. To share power more fairly with Maori in our constitutional arrangements.

The problem can be sheeted back to the first John Key-led National government which started in 2008. Prior to that, the United Nations had produced its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, which said that indigenous peoples had a right to self-determination.

The Prime Minister at the time Helen Clark said we’re not signing that, and New Zealand abstained. But three years later, John Key - as part of his deal with the Maori Party - sent Pita Sharples off to New York to sign it. The UN itself said the declaration was non-binding and aspirational. But, for whatever reason best known to them, the Labour Party has now decided that the DRIP will be enacted in this country over the next 20 years and He Puapua sets out a way that will, in the words of conservative political commentator Muriel Newman, lead to tribal control of New Zealand by 2040 and the end of democracy as we know it.

The move for Maori wards on local councils all around the country is the start of it, and the suggestion that appointed and unelected iwi representatives get full voting rights and full stipends on the Wellington City Council is another example.

Muriel Newman writes about the slow boiling frog effect. If this happens, and there is every indication it will, it will happen slowly, incrementally and by the time we realise what has happened, it will be too late. So how do you feel about this? Are you happy that a fraction of the population, that is those who claim some Maori ancestry, which is around 15 percent of the population, may be able to share 50 percent of the government’s decision making and control vast amounts of the country’s economic resources, including the most valuable of all - water?

On the surface this seems preposterous does it not? In Vision 2040 it says the following: “If Maori are to exercise governance power, there needs to be support for this. The Crown’s main contribution will be resourcing. There are multiple streams from which financial contributions might be sourced, including, for example, levies on resource use where Maori have a strong claim to ownership, such as water.”

Can you believe the arrogance of that statement? Can you ever disagree with what John Key once said: “nobody owns the water.” And he was absolutely right. It is swept up from the oceans and falls from the sky. It is one of the wonders of nature. It belongs to all of us and the resource must never be put in “ownership.”

To have a paper presented to the Associate Minister of Maori Development, and Minister for Local Government, Nania Mahuta with such a suggestion in it, and not have it dismissed, is frankly a very worrying thought.

There is a gradual realisation among some people of what is happening. Not only Muriel Newman but also the left-wing writer Chris Trotter, has written about this paper and suggests that Jacinda Ardern move very swiftly now to shut down any talk of a change to New Zealand’s governance arrangements over the next 20 years.

But is there any sign of that? Of course not.

What is also worrying is the silence of the National Party on this. But then, maybe they’re embarrassed. It was them who started it with John Key sending Pita Sharples off to sign up to something that Helen Clark would not have a bar of because she realised the long-term implications of it. And now it has come to pass.

I don’t want any racist tirades about this issue, I want some reasoned discussion. And for me, it comes back to this. I believe in the concept that all people are equal, that in this country everybody’s vote is as important as everybody else’s. We are all New Zealanders.

Yes, we may have descended from Maori or Chinese or Scottish or English, but we all live together in this country as New Zealanders. My antecedents came here 173 years ago. Am I any less of a person, any less of a New Zealander because my forefathers and foremothers arrived here 500 years after other settlers? Is somebody born in England or India or China who came here in the last 10 years and now has a New Zealand passport any less of a New Zealander than me? I would hope not.

But if we have some sort of devolved co-governance arrangement whereby 50 percent of the power is in the hands of the small proportion of the electorate, is that acceptable in a nation which has known the concept of parliamentary democracy in some form or another since 1853?

Isn’t this one of the most important questions facing New Zealand’s future? Yet no one in the government wants to talk about it in the open.

Peter Williams, a journalist and commentator who hosts the morning show on Magic Talk, blogs HERE.

11 comments:

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

NZ needs to draft a Constitution which includes the stipulation that all New Zealanders are equal under the law. The draft needs to be presented to the people as a referendum and the govt should announce that it will go with the majority. I have no objection to the Constitution including the ToW as it was intended in 1840 - awarding sovereignty to the Crown, no bull about any 'partnership'.

Doug Longmire said...

Highly ironic that the Left administration is pushing a nakedly obvious apartheid policy, when the entire civilised world abhors racial discrimination.

Welcome to Zimbabwe !!

Rod Kane said...

Well said Peter and you hit the nail on the head. It would not normally be a problem but quite obviously National is embarrassed by what has happened and has become silent on the issue. Added to that we have a woke left wing media that supports it. We also have a politically ignorant populace, supporting what in effect is the most corrupt and no-transparent government and PM in our history. So i fear that this will happen, and much worse. Ardern will leave a legacy of a wrecked economy, a broken infrastructure and a racially divided nation which can only end in anarchy. Without a question of a doubt, this is the most damning piece of legislation that is being covertly formed right now. And just about nobody knows that it is happening. This govt is crooked.

Ross Baker/ONZF said...

Barend Vlaardingerbroek, New Zealand already has a Constitution that gave equal rights to all the people of New Zealand. It was issued by, "Victoria by the Grace of God" under, "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" on the 16 November 1840. This Constitution separated New Zealand from New South Wales and made New Zealand into a British Colony on 3 May 1841 with its own Governor and Constitution. It set up our political, legal and justice systems under one flag and one law, irrespective of race, colour or creed but has been completely ignored by Governments.
Use it or loss it, the choice is yours!

Unknown said...

Keep beating that drum Peter. Hopefully there will be enough people on board by January 2024.

Tony Orman said...

I came to the conclusion quite a while ago that the erosion of democracy is happening right now and has been for some time. Go back several years to the National government's state grab of Environment Canterbury (ECan) when it swept aside a democratically elected council and replaced it with state puppet commissioners. National's John Key and Nick Smith would argue ECan wasn't doing its job. That's a bit rich coming from MPs!
What Key and Smith could have done was to call for an immediate election, i.e. let the people and democracy decide. But no that was a State grab akin to communism.
Nick Smith also grabbed control of 1080 hearings from local bodies and gave himself sole dictatorial power to agree. He had a blind evangelical zeal for the toxin. Forget the issue. The process was an insult to democracy.
Then we had the Adern Labour government and its rushed, panicked firearm law immediately after the 2019 mosque shooting by an Australian. There were over 12,000 submissions by the public. Government claimed the Select Committee read and processed these in two days. It was a very bad joke and a tragedy for democracy and select committee process.
So for me the erosion of democracy is the big issue. Indeed it should've been in the 2020 election. It will be a major issue at the 2023 election as people wake up.

K Walker said...

We have already witnessed the power that the Labour party now has . New Zealanders should be worried by recent divisive policies that are slowly and indiscreetly are being introduced . Robertsons meddling in Air NZ and Banks is an indication of his plans . Sport NZ are now creating divisions with funding policies and Gender equality policies . We are constantly being told we are a team of 5 million ? What a Joke !! Maori wards Maori Health body are two recent worries for us but delve deeper and you will see seeds being sown in other aspects of our democracy .

Lesley Stephenson said...

Yes very well said....I have also tried to get people to see what's happening but people seem to be afraid to speak out. One can't publish anything in a newspaper...(cause they wouldn't print it)....can't complain to our MPs cause they are too scared to make a stand (more interested in their pay cheques)....media are not speaking out (maybe worried about funding) and the Labour Party are only good at one thing....keeping what's happening to themselves.
So what can law abiding people do....well we can all see how Maori do it and that seems to be applauded.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

Ross Baker, a Constitution is above Parliament but NZ operates according to the doctrine of the Supremacy of Parliament. Where there is a Constitution there is a Constitutional Court (under various names) that can override Parliament.There ain't no such thing as a NZ Constitution by the criteria presented by the fundamental attributes of a Constitutional system of governance.

Theo said...

By focusing on the UN agenda the Crown draws attention away from natural rights (to human rights). Natural rights are implied by the original language of Magna Carta S39 as recognised by the Imperial Laws Application Act. The original language has the term legem (lex) terrae, which has a specific meaning quite different to the modern translation:

LEX TERRIE. The law of the land. The common law, or the due course of the common law ;the general law of the land. Bract. fol. 17b. Equivalent to "due process of law." In the strictest sense, trial by oath; the privilege of making oath. Bracton uses the phrase to denote a freeman's privilege of being sworn in court as a juror or witness, which jurors convicted of perjury forfeited, (legem terse amittant.) Bract. fol. 292b. The phrase means "the procedure of the old popular law." Thayer, Evid. 201, quoting Brunner, Schw. 254, and Fortesq. de Laud. c. 26 (Selden's notes).

Blacks dictionary of law, 4th edition

Those rights then which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture.

William Blackstone, Commentaries.

Unknown said...

Well Said Peter. Please keep this issue in front of the public and keep asking opposition MPs what they are doing to prevent this government from bringing the country to it's knees, as it completely ignores our democratic rights and pushes ahead with Maori separatism until Maori are basically running the country. Well when I say Maori, that will only include the Maori hierarchy as the ordinary hard-working part- Maori will not see any of the money that will be flowing in large amounts. I speak from knowledge as I am part Maori and 3 of my daughters married part Maori men who have all worked hard to support their families. None of them have seen a cent of the huge amounts of payouts from the Waitangi Tribunal settlements.