Monday, February 12, 2024

NZCPR Newsletter: Waitangi 2024

This year the Waitangi theatre had a particular edge to it. There was fighting talk: “This is a fight that will not be fought just in Parliament. I lift my gun, and I let the shots do the talking.” But did former Labour Minister Peeni Henare cross the line into inciting violence against the new government with those words? Was another former Labour Minister Willie Jackson doing the same last year when he threatened war: “Maori will go to war if this Treaty referendum goes through”?

What could have been celebrated as a day of unity and pride, was not.

But was it much different from previous years?

Back in 2012, the late Sir Paul Holmes expressed the widespread disillusionment that most New Zealanders were feeling at the time – and are probably still feeling today - over the disrespect shown at Waitangi in his Herald
column: “I’m over Waitangi Day. It is repugnant. It’s a ghastly affair. As I lie in bed on Waitangi morning, I know that later that evening, the news will show us irrational Maori ghastliness with spitting, smugness, self-righteousness and the usual neurotic Maori politics, in which some bizarre new wrong we’ve never thought about will be lying on the table.

“This, we will have to address and somehow apply these never-defined principles of the Treaty of Waitangi because it is, apparently, the next big resentment. There’ll be lengthy discussion, we’ll end up paying the usual millions into the hands of the Maori aristocracy and God knows where it’ll go from there.”

Where it has gone is now clear. The coffers of the Maori aristocracy have swelled considerably since that time. According to a
report produced by TDB Advisory assessing the wealth of the country’s largest tribal business conglomerates – those that hide behind charitable status and pay no tax - Ngai Tahu topped the iwi rich list in 2023 with a value of $2.2 billion, Tainui came a close second also on $2.2 billion, followed by Auckland’s Ngati Whatua on $1.6 billion, Ngati Toa on $795 million, Tuhoe on $406 million, Ngati Porou on $298 million, Ruakawa on $238 million, Ngati Awa on $180 million, Ngati Pahauwera on $101 million, and Ngapuhi, which hasn’t yet negotiated their treaty settlement, on $88 million.

It has also gone to individuals at the top of the tribal pyramid. Matt Nippert from the New Zealand Herald
identified Maori Party President John Tamihere as the highest paid chief executive of a charity with an average executive salary of $510,679: “A somewhat surprising leader of this list - given it has one of the smallest staff levels, asset bases and annual revenues of entities surveyed - West Auckland Maori health and social services provider Waipareira nevertheless appears to have the highest paid executives in the charitable sector. This ranking was due to a sector-leading 77 per cent increase in senior manager pay in the year to June 30, 2023. Chief executive John Tamihere told the Herald this pay increase was a ‘one-off’ due to ‘restructuring’, but did not provide details.”

When Waitangi Day became a national holiday in 1973, it was re-named New Zealand Day by Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk to reflect a broader concept of nationhood. His vision was for New Zealanders of every race and heritage to come together in mutual respect to celebrate their love of our country and pride in being Kiwis.

In his first New Zealand Day speech, on the 6th of February 1974, Prime Minister Kirk

“I want to pay tribute to all those who join together tonight to give New Zealand on this first New Zealand Day a glimpse of the forces and the inheritance of history that made us what we are. Our future will be what we make of it for ourselves: the sum total of our daily actions and our willingness to join together. And if we join together in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect, everything is possible, nothing is beyond us. Let each New Zealand Day stand as a milestone before which we pause and review our efforts and refreshed, press on to build the future that we can earn.”

While Prime Minister Rob Muldoon changed the name back to Waitangi Day in 1976, successive Prime Ministers have used the occasion to reiterate the need for the nation to pull together and build a future we can be proud of - including Christopher Luxon who

“We must aspire to go forward not as two sides, but together as New Zealanders because there is more that unites us than divides us…

“I believe New Zealand is the best country on earth. We have unlimited potential, and everything we need to be successful… There are simply no excuses for why we can’t do exceptionally well and be one of the world's leading, advanced small countries.

“This Waitangi Day, I renew this Government’s commitment to helping all New Zealanders, Maori and non-Maori, get ahead, and to giving all our children and grandchildren hope for a prosperous and secure future here in this great country. That goal, and many others, are entirely in our grasp. We can realise them together.”

To achieve the PM’s goal of building a better future, it would be helpful to bring some clarity into the debate over the Treaty that’s been triggered by the proposed Treaty principles bill.

First of all, we need to be realistic about the historical context that preceded the signing of the Treaty. In a Waitangi Day article in 2020, the former Judge and Law Lecturer Anthony Willy
outlined the situation:

“New Zealand had become home to some 2000 European settlers including: whalers, traders, missionaries and convicts escaping from Australia. This led to violent disputes between settlers, and the Maori inhabitants for which there was no mechanism for peaceful resolution. Given that many of the settlers were of British origin the Government felt compelled to intervene to prevent any further descent into lawlessness and violence. Hence Captain Hobson was sent with instructions to attempt a reconciliation between the warring factions and significantly to prevent any further exploitation of the Maori inhabitants by Europeans. The tenor of the instructions from Lord Normanby head of the Colonial Office to Captain Hobson are often overlooked in debates about colonialism, and the intent of them bears repeating, beginning with the unequivocal requirement that: If these conditions could not be met then New Zealand could not become a British colony.

There are many drafts and interpretations of the Treaty, but as Gary Judd KC
clarifies, the one that matters is the one that was signed by the vast majority of more than 500 chiefs - and that’s the Maori version of the Treaty.

But as this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator journalist Mike Butler reveals, the “official” interpretation of the Maori version of the Treaty, that’s been used by successive Governments as the basis for Treaty policy, is highly politicised:

“In 1986, with the 150th anniversary of the signing of the treaty coming up, the Lange government invited Professor Sir Hugh Kawharu, an Oxford University trained Professor of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland, to check out the various translations that had been made of the Te Tiriti Maori text. He produced what is often called the Kawharu translation, and that translation was accepted by the government of the day.

“But Sir Hugh was not necessarily the neutral academic that high-ranking politicians and jurists apparently took him for, and what he produced was a reinterpretation that serves as a manifesto.”

Mike explains that as well as being a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, Sir Hugh had been pro-active in supporting claimants in numerous Treaty disputes, and he points out that the whole Treaty partnership fabrication, that led to the disaster of co-governance under the Ardern Labour Government, can be traced back to the Kawharu rewrite.

In 1922, in response to on-going questions about the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, Sir Apirana Ngata, a trained lawyer and Member of Parliament, wrote an explanation of the Maori version of the Treaty in the Maori language. His interpretation was held in such high regard, that in 1963 the government translated it into English and distributed it to every Maori household.

That was the inspiration for the NZCPR’s Treaty book project, which, thanks to the support of readers of this newsletter, has resulted in 1.1 million copies of Sir Apirana’s explanation being
delivered into New Zealand homes.

With Mike Butler presenting such a clear argument as to why the Coalition Government must replace the Kawharu translation for official purposes, surely it’s appropriate that the work of one of Maoridom’s greatest leaders - and the prominent New Zealand Statesman who features on our $50 banknote - should be considered instead.

In a recent
interview with the Herald, as part of their Waitangi Day coverage, Auckland University’s Professor Elizabeth Rata, a leading expert on the Treaty, reminded us that the Treaty of Waitangi was a crucial stepping stone on New Zealand’s journey to democracy.

It was only because Maori chiefs had ceded sovereignty to the Queen of England when they signed the Treaty that the British Parliament was able to
pass the New Zealand Constitution Act in 1852 to establish our first New Zealand Parliament and introduce democracy. 

While sovereignty now rests with Parliament to govern on behalf of all New Zealanders, it is voters who have the democratic power to decide who should rule the country: government of the people, by the people, for the people. And every three years we exercise that power at the ballot box, when we decide whether the old Government should carry on - or be replaced.

As Professor Rata reiterates, the Treaty, which played such a crucial role in our development as a nation, enabling the brutality to end and democracy to begin, has now fulfilled its purpose. That’s not to say it’s no longer relevant, especially as some tribal groups still have not concluded their Treaty settlements, but it is not part of our constitutional arrangements and that’s the way it must stay if we are to remain a democracy.

Unsurprisingly, Iwi leaders and their supporters do not agree. They want the Treaty enshrined in law in a new constitution, so it controls what we do. That’s what all the argy-bargy at Waitangi was about.

Their ultimate aim is to re-tribalise New Zealand – to strip away the legal and political rights that democracy guarantees to each and every one of us, so they can impose their own totalitarian rules and regulations.

The question is, do Kiwis want to give up democracy? Do we want the tribal aristocracy - those who attempted to bully and intimidate our democratically elected leaders into submission at Waitangi - to have the power to control our lives?

Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party believe tribalism is the way of the future. They campaigned on it at the 2023 election. They want to strip Kiwis of our democratic rights and hand the power to mega-rich tribal business leaders.

Fortunately, voters recognised the danger and supported a new Government that promised to remove this threat - and for the sake of the democratic future of our country, we hope they succeed.

And on that note, I’ll leave the last words to the former ACT leader Richard Prebble, who concluded his Herald
commentary on the importance of the current Treaty debate, with a vision for the future that we would hope the new Government can deliver:

“I have a rainbow of grandchildren. I want for them a colour-blind government with one law for all. It is the way to honour the Treaty.”

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Dr Muriel Newman established the New Zealand Centre for Political Research as a public policy think tank in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. The NZCPR website is HERE. We also run this Breaking Views Blog and our NZCPR Facebook Group HERE


Anonymous said...

The 6th February 1840 was the day Maori gave up their individual governments (tribal lore) to become British subjects while under the laws and dependency of NEW SOUTH WALES.

The 3rd May 1841 was the day New Zealand became an independent British Colony, under one flag and one law for ALL the people of New Zealand, irrespective of race, color or creed.

In 1869, the Legislative Council requested from Mr T E Young of the Native Department an ‘official’ back translation of the Maori language treaty to be done.

The 1975 Treaty of Waitangi Act and the Waitangi Tribunal were set up using a James Freeman compiled English version of the Treaty of Waitangi. This ‘unauthorised’ English version EXCLUDES “All the people of New Zealand” from Article 2 and INCLUDES Forests and Fisheries to lands, settlements and property in Article 2, therefore giving Maori advantage and privilege over non Maori never intended in the original Maori language treaty.

Why did OUR government allow this injustice to happen when they had at their disposal the 1869 ‘official’ back translation of the Maori language treaty done by Mr T E Young?

The 1987 Court of Appeal between the New Zealand Maori Council and the Attorney General state, “The Treaty of Waitangi has been PRIMARILY INTERPRETED in the New Zealand Courts and this appeal was significant in establishing the modern views on the PRINCIPLES of the Treaty. On page 663 of the Appeal document we find instead of using an OFFICIAL TEXT of the treaty, this court used an unauthorised text by Hugh Kawharu, which he calls his “ATTEMPT at a reconstruction of the literal translation of the Maori text”.

So this Court used an ATTEMPT at a reconstruction of the literal translation of the Maori text by a man representing people who were to gain most from its outcome?

Both the Court and OUR government accepted this BOGUS translation to interpret the treaty and establish the unfounded “Five Principles of the Treaty” and a Partnership between Maori and the Crown, again giving Maori advantage and privilege over non Maori never intended in the original Maori language treaty.

Kawena said...

One Maori gentleman said that he would let his gun do the talking. A lady, when asked what she thought about the current government, said: "They are scum". How do we get through to these people? New Zealand will go nowhere until we sort this out, and it should be sorted out now, not left hanging up in the air. I say: do your own research, think for yourself, draw your conclusion, but do it honestly and search for the truth!

Anonymous said...

If guns and scum are typical of Maori advocacy then God( in whatever religious or non religious form) save NZ. Its level of literacy and public dignity and debate has dropped to the lowest. Not to mention the non speaking performance.

Imagine if you dare, any of the coalition leaders behaving as the so called Maori elite did at Waitangi.

Really NZ this is way beyond a joke.