The Ardern government is currently working on a plan, in conjunction with The Ministry of Maori Development (Te Puni Kokiri), the Iwi Chairs Forum, and the (discredited, politicised, and biased) Human Rights Commission, to give effect to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – UNDRIP- in New Zealand.
The general New Zealand public will not be allowed to know about the content of this Declaration Plan until it has been finalised by, and only for, Maori, who claim to be indigenous to New Zealand, having migrated here, periodically, and variously, from Eastern Polynesia, around 1300 AD.
In a pre-Anzac weekend document release, Maori Development Minister Jackson provided a very brief statement on how the Declaration Plan is to be worked through - but only with Maori and the discredited Human Rights Commission - with absolutely no general public input whatsoever.
Ardern has promised “consultation” sometime after the Plan is released in June.
The rights of
“Indigenous” peoples, in fact any culturally self-identified peoples, to relate
to and embrace their own particular cultural beliefs and practices are of
course human rights to which we can all relate and accept. This essay is not
designed to negate or diminish those rights but to try to situate them within a
multicultural modern-day framework, where “indigenous” peoples, depending upon
how such communities are defined, interact with, and respond to societies where
such communities are inevitably, and will always be, minorities.
The challenge will be,
how can the rights of “Indigenous” peoples, as well as the rights of every
other politically identifiable minority, be integrated or accommodated within
societies where innumerable minorities already exist? Societies everywhere
comprise a collection of minorities -age, gender, disability, LBGITQ+ identity,
economic status, tertiary-educated - the list goes on. But everyone,
regardless of their political identity, also has rights, hopefully the SAME rights
as everyone else. Is that not so?
referred to substantial feedback from a “Maori targeted engagement” programme,
assuring us that this was” just another talk fest” with Maori. But this is not
true. The feedback report is no “talk-fest”, another lie from this dishonest
government and its’ ministers.
Far from being just a
series of “discussions”, this feedback report, if it comes to fruition via a
Maori-determined Declaration Plan, will effectively scrap our current
constitution and political system and create a society fragmented by race. Is
this what New Zealanders want?
So, what did Jackson
disclose (or, more importantly, omit) in his media briefings pre-Anzac weekend,
duly under-reported and deliberately downplayed by our politicised, mainstream media, as is the now
common-place approach to public information espoused by Jackson and his
Are you ready?
“feedback” report covers the following topics or areas for change:
Maori maintain that tino
Rangatiratanga (variously and collectively defined as self-determination,
chiefly authority, sovereignty, autonomy, self-government, domination, rule,
power, control) is a fundament right of Maori as an indigenous people.
The feedback report
includes numerous ideas or claims to improve and enhance tino Rangitiratanga in
New Zealand: Maori demand self-government; the Crown exercises Rangatiratanga
over Maori; Treaty settlements which divide iwi question the legitimacy of the
Crown; Maori must make their own laws; tikanga Maori (customs and
protocols) must have equal status to state laws; indigenous rights must be
embedded in state laws; and that “Maori” must mean the “normalisation” of our
Key themes for the
Declaration Plan under this heading include: greater and more authentic
involvement in government; equality of life expectancy; power and control rests
with government, therefore Maori seek partnership in government; greater Maori
participation in decision-making in health, education, justice, housing and the
environment; participation must be more than advisory; Maori are innovators,
therefore need to be involved in all government decisions; colonisation aimed to
make Maori just like the colonisers; Maori to participate in key Crown
appointments within the Public Service, and in all policy formulation; public
servants to be trained in mana motuhake and decolonisation; and substitute
Maori contracts for service with innovative partnerships.
Issues for the
Declaration Plan under this heading cover: urban Maori to be able to access their
cultural identity; Maori landowners want to transfer over to general land as it
is simpler; Maori want their traditional lands returned and governance over
their land, waters, sea, and culture; people have lost their land and have no
other place to go; Maori are guardians of land, not owners of it; colonisation
denies access to traditional spaces and the sea; kaitiakitanga is not
rangatiratanga; colonisation and development projects trample on Maori wahi
tapu; Maori need guaranteed decision-making representation structures at local
government level; Maori discriminated
from water rights.
Education must receive
considerable emphasis in the declaration Plan, by: dealing with Maori
oppression within the school system; maramataka-bodies of Maori knowledge,
should exist inside the system; a separate Maori Education Authority is needed;
climate change should incorporate Maori knowledge; Maori knowledge incorporated
in the school curriculum to address colonisation and inequities in education;
create bilingual and bicultural citizens; educate government employees to apply
Maori values and knowledge in their work and decision-making; senior government officials (CEOs) to be
conversant in and capable of consistently applying Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the
information about indigenous/Maori rights
Themes in this section
include:- giving effect to indigenous rights did/does not affect the other
rights of citizens; changing mindsets and helping non-Maori understand and
value Te Tiriti o Waitangi was seen as a
critical challenge in the ongoing
provision of information and normalising “being Maori” and particularly addressing
Of particular note in
this section of the feedback report is that participants recognised and commented
upon the interconnectedness between poor Maori health outcomes and correlated
factors such as poverty, housing, education, and justice - which are clearly socio-economic
issues as opposed to shortcomings in the national health system. Other themes
include: an holistic approach to health as opposed to the current siloed health
focus; colonisation, intergenerational
trauma and lost connection to whakapapa and whenua are key issues affecting
health, especially mental health and well-being; “we guarantee that the colour
of our skin, being Maori [means we’re] less likely to be diagnosed correctly,
receive treatment or see a specialist”; with the arrival of Covid, the system
didn’t respond to the needs of Maori; the Maori Health Authority to have the
power to control Maori health - replicate the same model to education and
justice; greater support for rongoa Maori; Western rehabilitation services have
not fully healed our people; large conflict between the western world (health
services) and tikanga Maori; using tikanga as a healing system and method.
Again, participants appeared
to at last recognise the interconnectedness between justice and education, housing,
and health. “The disproportionate number of whanau in prison is the result of a
range of issues including racism, a lack of self-determination and general
inequality”; “there are glaring inequalities (in the justice system) and you
need to cede power”; “lots of resources are given, but the Crown holds the
chain. This is about what rangatiratanga truly looks like”; abolition of prisons, to be replaced by a
model more focused on restitution and healing; “we normalise prisons.....Maori
lived without them”; introduce a true Maori justice system by Maori for Maori
based on tikanga that would run in parallel to the western model; “we must be
able to make our own laws on our whenua...we decide where the boundary is of
where Crown laws apply to Pakeha and where ours apply to us”.
expressions and identity
blamed colonisation for “disconnecting” Maori from their land and culture,
proposing a re-vitalisation of their culture and “re-indigenising” their way of
life. Major differences are claimed between those re-connected with Maori
cultural practices (positive outcomes) and those who are disconnected (negative
outcomes). Other themes cover: grounding in te Ao Maori required; Maori
festivals should be resourced as for NZ Ballet and NZSO; colonisation again
blamed for inter-generational disconnectedness; Maori parents identified
as those being responsible for beating their children for speaking te Reo at
school and for fostering the adoption of
Pakeha values and systems; “we put a Westminster spin on everything we do, due
to the schooling system, etc. But this system is not us and doesn’t work”;
imposed Western knowledge and value systems have become the default, making it
harder to live with tikanga; non-Maori seeking to learn Te Reo are crowding out
Maori from learning; foster wider spread of tikanga and matauranga including
making te Reo compulsory; Maori success measured by success in Pakeha world; widespread
tikanga and te Reo threatens Maori control over these aspects; colonisation has
tainted Maori culture to the point of annihilation; cultural rights only
realised through constitutional change; “colonisation was a systematic process
of annihilation designed to assimilate us and create a ‘little England’”; “
need a completely different system and world view”; make te Reo compulsory and
make te Reo core, like math and English.
spoke of housing difficulties and homelessness amongst Maori. Suggestions
include: removing barriers to build papakainga on your own whenua; housing
difficulties impacted by inter-generational trauma and disconnection from
whenua; urban Maori have lost connection with their turangawaewae.
In this section, the
principal issues include: overwhelmingly bad statistics for Maori on health,
education, justice, housing, whenua and economic outcomes; disproportionate
numbers of Maori in prison due to the Western model of justice; inequities
caused by colonisation; Crown funding to be increased and transferred to Maori;
power must be ceded from the Crown to Maori; Covid vaccine rollout a good
example of creating inequities for Maori; current inequities sourced in colonisation
and institutional and structural racism; Maori with disabilities not catered for
at all.. Of particular note is the demand for the Treaty “partnership” to be reflected
in equal power sharing and the allocation of resources.
development and business
The major complaint
under this heading was that Maori have to operate their businesses in the
Pakeha business system and that the economic system was “not designed for
Maori”. Some views cautioned about “cultural appropriation” where others are making
money off Maori culture. Many Maori believe there is a clash between
tinorangitiratanga and capitalism, but also see significant benefits in economic development. Some comment
centred around Maori receiving fewer public resources to foster business development.
(Note: but no mention
is made of Maori tourism ventures receiving millions of dollars before the
STAPP fund was opened).
Other issues were to do with Maori claiming to be entrepreneurs and for businesses (banking and insurance) to incorporate indigenous aspects. A Maori budget was also raised. Value in Maori business is holistic, not just the dollar value.
The issue of
disconnectedness from tikanga and whenua caused by colonisation resulting in
intergenerational trauma, is touched upon in many of the preceding sections,
but is emphasised in this penultimate section. Greater resources allowing Maori
to return to a traditional communal way of living is regarded as the solution
to most if not all the issues previously raised.
(Note: no mention
whatsoever is made of the disconnection of many iwi from their whenua resulting
from the genocide of the Musket Wars which preceded colonisation).
Plan-process and structure
This final section of
the feedback document relates to how a Declaration Plan would be structured, implemented,
and monitored, again using the “equal “partnership” claimed to exist between Maori
and the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi as its’ basis. One particular item (135)
mentions that in the drafting of the Declaration Plan, there needs to be
comprehensive iwi engagement.
This last item in fact
raises important questions about the validity and reliability of the whole feedback report and the weighting it might
receive by the drafters of the Declaration Plan. Was “comprehensive iwi
engagement” NOT actually underpinning this whole process? Indeed, the whole methodology underpinning this
report, from a basic research perspective, is of huge concern. Whilst Jackson
plays down the content as a vague wish list, his government is busily
implementing many of these elements anyway.
The report is based
upon 69 workshops, involving 370 participants and 32 facilitators. No
information is provided regarding where, or in what cultural setting, these
workshops were conducted. The “representation” diagram of attendees provided
does not identify the status or qualifications of the various participants nor
any information on how they were invited or elected to attend the workshops.
Obviously, there could have been over - or under - representation of the
participant groups at any particular workshop. The few available statistics
indicate on average, 5 participants per workshop. No detailed information is
provided regarding the identity of the participants, as to whether they were
representing a particular iwi or hapu, urban or marae-based communities. No
information is provided either, on the qualifications or identity of the 32
facilitators, nor on the questioning schedule, workshop procedure, or topic
agenda used. Reference is made continually in the report regarding the numbers
of comments made, as “some”, “a few”, “many”, “a large number”, when one might reasonably expect, for example,
percentage answers indicating the degree of support for any particular item at
any particular workshop by any particular group. And were these “representatives”
speaking on behalf of all Maori in general, or just on behalf of their
particular interest group?
Whilst the report may
well have been based upon a more rigorous methodology than has apparently been
indicated, the omission of such basic data calls into question the veracity of
not only the summarised statements but also seriously calls into question their
utility in providing a basis for such a profound and far-reaching proposal as
the Declaration Plan. The complete “report” lacks specific information and is
overly reliant on generalisations. For example, the disconnectedness of Maori
from their whenua is blamed on colonisation, but huge displacement and
alienation from the traditional whenua of iwi and hapu took place during the
Musket Wars of the early 1800s, well before colonisation even began. And
Maori leaders of the 19th and early 20th century repeatedly
urged Maori to adopt “Pakeha” ways.
To establish basic
credibility in regard to the validity and reliability of this feedback report,
the government must disclose the detailed data outlined above upon which it is
based, including corroborating statistics to back it up. If the Declaration
Plan is to be taken seriously, with substantial public resources to implement
it, a different and much more rigorous piece of research needs to take place.
This can of course be undertaken by Maori researchers.
All Maori on the Maori
electoral roll, plus other identified Maori, need to be given the opportunity
to be sampled and to give their viewpoints on the issues contained in the
“targeted engagement” feedback, in confidence, which can then be independently
analysed using universal analytical
techniques. However, given the cultural aversion to individualism and
particularly to Western research techniques as a principal agent of imperialism
and colonisation, one cannot see how this would be either possible or acceptable.
In spite of the
obvious dangers in using the existing material as the basis for the official
Declaration Plan, there are several themes within it worth exploring further,
which will form the basis of my next article: Henry Armstrong’s UNDRIP Plan.
Henry Armstrong is retired, follows politics, and writes.