Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Graham Adams: Richard Prebble using the C-word is a step change.

A year ago the mainstream media was busily reassuring its audiences that the revolutionary document He Puapua being waved about in Parliament by David Seymour was merely blue-sky thinking by a working group that could be safely disregarded because it was not government policy.

Things have changed dramatically since then. Last week, the New Zealand Herald published a column by former Labour Cabinet minister and Act leader Richard Prebble that described the push for co-governance with Maori — particularly in Three Waters — as a “coup”.

What was remarkable was not only the Herald’s willingness to publish such an inflammatory article but it used the C-word in its heading online: “Richard Prebble: Three Waters is a coup — an attack on democracy.”

The C-word obviously has the power to shock. Corrin Dann repeated it on RNZ the morning the column appeared when interviewing the Barry Crump of New Zealand politics, Kieran McAnulty. (“Morning, mate, how are ya?” said the farmer from the Wairarapa when Dann introduced him.)

As you’d expect of the newly appointed Associate Minister of Local Government tasked with selling the scheme to often hostile audiences, McAnulty busied himself trying to dismiss news of the widespread opposition to Three Waters as overblown.

Dann — his voice suddenly urgent — interrupted him: “This [opposition] is deeper than that. You’ve got a former politician, Richard Prebble, writing in the New Zealand Herald this morning that the government’s Three Waters legislation is a COUP!”

McAnulty chuckled nervously, but didn’t attempt to deny it.

Dann said calling the plans to confiscate the assets of 67 councils a coup might be an “extreme position” but warned: “That will be the view of some people.”

However, while Prebble’s assessment correctly names the elephant in the room, the extent of the coup in Three Waters is far wider than co-governance.

His claim that “The government’s Three Waters legislation is a coup. It is replacing liberal democracy with co-government with iwi” tells only half the story.

The “co-government” he refers to applies only to the overarching, strategic level of Three Waters where the four Regional Representation Groups — made up of equal numbers of council and mana whenua representatives — choose the boards that will rule the Water Services Entities.

These entities are at the base of the Three Waters pyramid and will handle the day-to-day operations for water supply and delivery.

On April 29, to ward off criticisms that many councils and iwi will not get a seat at the Regional Representation Group table, Mahuta announced the creation of sub-regional groups that will allow smaller voices within a water entity’s territory to have their say in what the regional groups decide.

These sub-regional groups will also be co-governed.

Mahuta was at pains to make it clear, however, that co-governance will not be a feature of Three Waters below this strategic level.

”Joint strategic oversight with local government and iwi / Māori will only happen at the regional representative group level, which exists to hold the [Water Services Entities] boards to account for delivering better outcomes for communities,” she said.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson — wearing his hat as Infrastructure Minister — echoed her. “I think when people have applied the term ‘co-governance’ in this particular situation, some people have chosen to make that sound like it’s at the operational level of these entities. It’s not.”

As it happens, both ministers were telling the truth about where co-governance will feature under the Water Services Entities Bill currently before Parliament.

What they didn’t tell journalists and the public was that below the strategic level iwi will have the whip hand all the way down. It’s not co-governance; it’s iwi governance.

That this is not understood clearly by the public is due to the complexity of the byzantine bureaucratic structure of Three Waters on one hand, and the media’s failure to examine it closely on the other.

Mahuta and Robertson’s framing of the issue of co-governance being limited to the strategic level is, in fact, a masterstroke of deflection. It’s a plan so cunning you could pin tails on both ministers and call them weasels.

Focusing attention on co-governance at the higher levels of the Three Waters structure has served as a lightning rod to draw heat and light away from the clear requirements for everyone who exercises functions, duties and powers under the bill to not only give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi but also to Te Mana o te Wai.

Regional councils already have to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai by developing “a long-term vision through discussion with communities and tangata whenua” but, under the Water Services Entities Bill, Te Mana o te Wai statements can be issued at will by iwi and hapu for any specific body of water within their territory. This will give them wide-ranging powers that lack strict definitions and limits — or democratic protections.

The Water Services Entities are obliged to give effect to them. However, non-Māori — which is to say 85 per cent of the population — will have no right to make such statements.

The Six Principles of Te Mana o te Wai include:
Mana whakahaere, which gives tangata whenua “the power, authority and obligation to make decisions that maintain, protect, and sustain the health and well-being of, and their relationship with, freshwater”.

Kaitiakitanga describes the obligation of tangata whenua “to preserve, restore, enhance, and sustainably use freshwater for the benefit of present and future generations”.

Manaakitanga is the process by which tangata whenua “show respect, generosity, and care for freshwater and for others”.
These three principles alone give iwi and hapu extensive opportunity to formulate Te Mana o te Wai statements as broadly as they wish.

It is worth noting in this regard that Nanaia Mahuta’s sister, Tipa, co-chair of the Waikato River Authority, opposed Watercare’s resource application to take more water from the Waikato for Auckland’s needs last year on the grounds of “respect”.

As Thomas Cranmer — the pseudonymous analyst carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation and tweeting his findings — noted: “In her statement to the Board of Inquiry last year, Tipa described how central the Waikato River was to Tainui and to her family — the roles that her father and mother have had and how she continues their work.

“The essence of her objection to Watercare’s application was a ‘lack of respect’.”

The common belief that Te Mana o te Wai statements will be reserved for dealing with the purity and environmental sustainability of waterways is to completely misunderstand their potential scope.

As the Department of Internal Affairs has described it: “Te Mana o Te Wai [statements] will enable development of mauri frameworks, application of mātauranga Māori measurement or any other expression that iwi decide is relevant to them.”

In fact, iwi and hapu will wield immense — perhaps capricious — power over how the supposedly independent Water Services Entities operate.

Section 140 of the Water Services Entities Bill makes it clear that iwi and hapu can make such statements as often as they like, with their latest statement annulling the previous one.

Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith is one of the few local body politicians who appears to understand just how much power is being granted to iwi. Certainly he’s one of the very few willing to say so in public.

In mid-June he tweeted: “Whoever gets to write Te Mana O Te Wai statements gets control of water, land, planning rules and regulations, land use… TMoTW statements will cover every pipe, river, creek, farm pond or fresh water body.”

Cranmer has said there was “fierce internal debate” among members of the working group that Mahuta set up late last year (in the hope of assuaging hostility to Three Waters) over who has the right to issue such statements.

The group itself was co-governed, with equal numbers of iwi representatives and council members. Some of the council representatives, he says, fought for the right to have input but it was made clear that only iwi would be able to determine the substance of the statements.

In short, Mahuta has made sure that non-Māori will be denied a voice in determining what happens to water assets at a local level.
As Dr Smith puts it: “Actively excluding around 85 per cent of New Zealand’s people from engaging in a process which affects everyone/every square inch of the land and the salt water many miles out to sea deserves closer examination.

“If Te Mana o Te Wai is such an important principle then surely everyone (Nga tangata katoa) should be able to be involved. So many parts of society actively excluded from participating is unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

And issuing Te Mana o Te Wai statements is not the only way iwi will be granted power denied to non-Māori.

The boards governing the Water Services Entities will need to not only have competence in the delivery of infrastructure in their role as an “independent., skills-based board”. They will also need to, “collectively, have knowledge of, and experience and expertise in relation to… mana whenua, mātauranga, tikanga, and te ao Māori”.

This prescription may seem unremarkable enough at first glance but if anyone thinks such priestly knowledge will be available to all prospective non-Māori board members who are willing to learn about it, they are sorely mistaken.

As has been made clear in various forums, only Māori have the right to possess the mysteries of mātauranga and tikanga Māori.

Once again, iwi members will hold the whip hand — to the exclusion of non-Māori, who make up 85 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

In short, Nanaia Mahuta has given iwi and hapu, representing 15 per cent of the nation, a chokehold on Three Waters — from top to bottom.

And that’s without including the powerful role that her sister, Tipa, holds as chair of Te Puna–the Maori Advisory Group that controls the water regulator Taumata Arowai — including an explicit instruction from Nanaia as minister for it to follow Tipa’s advice on “supporting Te Mana o te Wai”.

Three Waters is a giant stitch-up in which assets that have been paid for by generations of taxpayers and ratepayers — Māori and non-Māori — will be effectively placed under iwi control.

As Jason Smith puts it: “Having worked in the engine room for the Three Waters reforms, it’s clear to me they are a Trojan Horse for ending democratic rights. Major constitutional reform wrapped up in a set of busted pipes.”

A coup, in fact, hiding in plain sight.

Graham Adams is an Auckland-based freelance editor, journalist and columnist. This article was originally published by and is published here with kind permission.


Mudbayripper said...

As deeply complex as the 3 waters program so obviously is. The intention is to float so far over the heads of the average new Zealander, that most are completely oblivious to how the structure of 3 waters will destroy the democracy we have all learned to take for granted.
This act of treason by our own government is beyond the comprehension of most.
It is nothing but an unadulterated act of extortion and theft.
A very sad time for all New Zealanders.

Anonymous said...

It’s happening at every level of government;

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your painstaking analysis Graham. I would be surprised if Jacinda Ardern and her cabinet understand these complexities, which makes their promotion of co-governance the more reprehensible. I agree with Mudbayripper that this is treason - "the crime of betraying one's country". How can we wait for this corrupt government to be ousted at the next election when it is even more certain that Christopher Luxon and National 'get it' even less? There have been many thousands of objections to this proposed legislation filed in Parliament in spite of the Government putting every obstacle in the way. It is perhaps as alarming as anything else that Mahuta knows quietly and gently, but with absolute messianic certainty, that she is right and all the rest of us are wrong. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

A vital conversation that needs to be had urgently in the public forum. This is actually FACISM by taking power on behalf of a minority that believes they have higher rights than society at large. The important question is why are parts of society enabling this from govt to our legal system to our media? Requires an independant review of political groups taking control of parts of society over time for this purpose. Why are nzme, mediaworks and nztv all in support?

Anna Mouse said...

Mahuta isn't this smart so this is a coup managed by many smarter people.

She has the power to make it happen and it is an insult to ALL New Zealanders that a elite tribal oligarchy is being rammed through with the assist from a vacuous Labour government and a complicit MSM.

How anyone with reasoned thinking cannot see the end game and wonder "where do we fit" aghasts me at the same time it reminds me how flaccid New Zealanders are until it affects them directly.

Make no mistake however. Once the affect is noticed there will be undougbted social and civil backlash because all coup lead by dictators end messy.

Anonymous said...

It’s happening across government every day. The number one goal for ministry of education for example as communicated across their internal communications is to uphold and deliver to the treaty partnership. Every ministry is like this and the public has no idea how far or deep this runs . There are presentations in ministries every week where iwi representatives are invited to promote things like the fusion of ‘law’ and ‘lore’. And everyone just nods. Like that is normal. It’s really weird like no one wants to oppose it for fearing of losing jobs. But at every turn the treaty takes precedence. There’s something really orchestrated about this after witnessing weekly across several gov agencies. Someone needs to investigate. Someone like bob jones should buy out herald or stuff and enforce objectivity and investigative journalism as a kpi. And please can Nz first and Act join forces . They seem to be the only ones aware of this. National are asleep. Honestly the amount of this happening every day is astounding.

P Young said...

The 'c' word I was thinking of was plain old 'corrupt' and then 'd' for duplicitous, but Mudbayripper is correct, treason is more apt and reflective of the truly heinous act that is going down here. It surely won't last the distance, but these charlatans and thieves need to be remembered for the truly contemptable, self-centered reprobates that they are, and those too in the msm and elsewhere that have aided and abetted this rort, by keeping the masses ignorant and fed the lie that this reform will provide better, cheaper and more efficient services. I do hope those that have promoted it sleep soundly, for the magnitude of the lie will very soon surface, and their day of reckoning will swiftly follow.

Muriel Newman said...

Anonymous at 6.49pm says "It’s happening across government every day" - that is a very worrying statement.

It verifies that the public really have no idea what is actually going on.

If you are able to contact me about it to clarify a couple of points, I would be very grateful.

Thanks for your help.

Geoffrey said...

I agree with mudbayripper, this is treason, pure and simple. Certainly Nanaia Mahuta is not the power behind this: she lacks the intellect. The real driving force comprises a few very canny folk well placed in Corporate Iwi who are (behind the smoke screen of 15% Maori, when perhaps 5% of them are remotely interested) pulling the strings.

Anonymous said...

What the compliant left don’t understand is that they will be the first in the hangi pit , spat on and reduced to tears like Helen Clark .In the words of Winston Churchill “when you compromise you lose “ and in our care when you give in you’re stuffed . May god help us ! This may lead to civil war !

Muzza said...

when the Waitangi Tribunal was established in the very early 1970's I commented to my wife that such a forum and the obvious purpose of same, could well lead to civil war.! Appeasement has been proved disastrous so many times, hasn't it?
I am now pondering what might happen if some Man-o-War may endeavour to proscribe my great pleasure of launching
my boat on one of my favourite lakes for a spot of fishing? Confrontation? Heck yes! Solution?
Bullying, intimidation, re writing the treaty, re writing the education curriculum, all corrosive,
Treason? Hard not to arrive at! The contempt of the Treaty glorifiers, should waken us up and put a stop to our accepting the B/S,
How do we let it happen? Rhodesia/Zimbabwe? New Zealand/Aortearoa. ?
Who is going to turn the lights out in New Zealand?