Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Lindsay Mitchell: The danger of the Treaty debate wearing us down

Screeds have been written about the Treaty of Waitangi. And there's more to come as division over race and rights ramps up.

Its content and meaning are getting lost in the crossfire and the danger of 'contestants' talking past each other looms, if not already happening.

When matters get murky, and misunderstandings abound, there is also a danger of observers getting worn down and disengaging. To avoid this happening personally, I made a mental list of what really aggravates me. In no particular order:

1/ Maori spiritual and religious belief being embraced and promoted by a formerly secular public service.

2/ A separate health system 'by Maori for Maori' that's a duplication and indulgence. Every individual that interacts with the health system now faces nurses and doctors etc of various ethnicity and birthplaces.

3/ A child who cannot be cared for by its natural parents having a substitute picked primarily by race.

4/ Cultural reports that use colonisation to excuse criminal behaviour and result in sentence discounts.

5/ The cultural practice of 'rahui' which block public access to public property.

That's not a long list. But each of these concrete bones of contention has arisen from Treaty 'creep', one way or the other. For instance, regarding item 1, the practice of reciting karakia (Maori prayers) is defended by the public service as "cultural acknowledgement" adding:

"The Public Service is committed to building and maintaining capability within organisations to engage with Māori and understand Māori perspectives. The Public Service Act 2020 (the Act) section 14 recognises the role of the Public Service to support the Crown in its relationships with Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi. To this end, the new Act includes provisions that put explicit responsibilities on the Public Service Commissioner, when developing and implementing the public service leadership strategy, to recognise the aims, aspirations and employment requirements of Māori, and the need for greater involvement of Māori in the Public Service."(1)

Obligations under the Treaty must flow one way. No other prayers are required or permitted at the commencement of public service meetings.

Back to my list. Wanting an end to each of the above can, in no way, be described as racist, or hysterically, 'white supremacist'. An end to these practices would be consistent with an end to racism. Not the reverse.

Individually we each have our own objections to what has developed. Not just over the past six years, but decades. There can be no doubt that over the coming months and years the debate will intensify. It may be far more effective to list and talk about practical concerns than argue the original- versus- evolved meaning and intent of the Treaty. The latter course is rapidly descending into the realms of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. By all means a redefinition of the articles or replacement with a constitution should be an option. But if that relies initially on a referendum then the arguments that persuade will be much closer to home - through letters-to-the-editor, talkback, social media, around the dinner table and at the pub.

I noticed a neighbour is flying the national Maori flag. I am assuming as a show of support for Maori. But what does that mean? They agree with TV1's John Campbell? They are virtue-signalling their 'non-racist' credentials?

I support Maori. I support them to look forward instead of back - which most do. I support them to get a decent crack at the cherry like everyone else. To get equal opportunity but understand that doesn't guarantee equal outcomes.

But above all I support a set of rules we can all live with free from fear or favour. None of the items on my short list would pass the test.


Lindsay Mitchell is a welfare commentator who blogs HERE. - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

Regarding #1, Yes, absolutely, and it is a double standard. Furthermore, I was horrified at the first Matariki that the PM at the time participated in an idolatrous dawn ceremony, when there was literal worship of the stars. Curiously, this was overlooked by the media despite its offensiveness to devout members of Abrahamic faiths (Christians, Muslims, and Jews). Perhaps secularist media just think this sort of thing is meaningless spectacle or culturally cute?

For me at any rate, it was the beginning of the end of my long time voting for a Labour government. The way Hipkins is carrying on, I'm doubting whether I'll ever vote Labour again.

Kawena said...

We are supposed to be one people! How did this come about? Both Labour and National between them got us into this miasma. It is a fair bet that neither of them will get us out of it. Two into one won't go, unless you are a Labour or National politician, game set and match, but hey, it is a different ballgame now isn't it!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is going to get uncomfortable and New Zealanders don’t much like confrontation, but we’ve got to push on through this ruckus. Keep the pedal to the metal! Now is not the time to show any weakness or indecision to the relatively small number of noisy, rent-seeking, activists with their bullying threats. C’mon NZ let’s put on our “grown-up person pants” and stand our ground. It’s time we had this conversation as a nation.

Anonymous said...

Did you speak at Kingi’s hui? … just joking. 🙃

Anonymous said...

NZers must be under no illusion regarding the Maori Iwi agenda - i.e. to replace NZ's democracy by an ethnocracy .

This means superior privilege and final authority (via sole veto power over legislation and decision-making) for Maori over the 83% of other ethnicities.

The question will be: do the majority of NZers want such a system of government?

Anonymous said...

If find it humorous that the noisy minority accuse the majority of changing the treaty . Ironically it's Maori that has been pushing and widening what the treaty means and the new demands never seem to end . Maori colonized these lands and any tribe that fell under a stronger tribes gaze .The treaty brought an end to one tribe colonizing their neighbor

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with comments on the impending debate. I hope we can push through the murky side and get a resolution that is equal to all New Zealand citizens.
There will be confrontational debate and there will be political protest but there has to be an end to the bitterness that this subject broaches.

Anonymous said...

When the Principles of The Treaty were introduced into all NZ legislation some 20 odd years ago, Winston Peters was vociferous in his condemnation. He stated that “nobody knows what these ‘principles’ are, there is nothing written down. We now know what they are; they are anything Māori say they are. The rest of NZ get no say despite the fact that there were two parties to The Treaty. Why is that the instructions given to William Hobson from the Marquis of Normanby on negotiating a treaty , not widely known? In fact the are somewhat suppressed, as is the agreements negotiated at Kohimarama following the 1st Tsranaki War