Goff delivers wedge to split the left

For all the indignation at the response to his speech , what did Goff expect whanau and hapu would hear in it?

He starts with a criticism of Hone, he attacks the Maori Party, he promotes unjust treaty settlements and he defends the discriminatory foreshore legislation. And all delivered to a predominately Pakeha audience. How could whanau and iwi and those on the progressive left respond in any other way but with severe criticism? What exactly was the message here, who was he really talking to and about what?

I personally struggle as to what it is I am most disappointed about in his speech.

Lets take the foreshore. Goff said, in defending legislation considered by many whanau, hapu and Pakeha to be indefensible:

But for all the criticism I have heard, most people accept that the current foreshore and seabed rules aren’t broken and they’re a good foundation for moving forward. They believe it’s good legislation for all New Zealanders….It’s hard to see why the country should be put through all the grief just to put a new brand on law that’s working…. If the foreshore and seabed issue is left for the courts to resolve, we could be tied up in knots for years. The government has a choice between sticking with the status quo, which guarantees access but allows for agreements around customary rights, and the alternative of never ending court battles….National wants to reopen the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Labour asks: What isn’t working? Will reopening court action help or would it see wounds fester?

Labour has never understood the impact of their utter rejection of Maori over the Foreshore. They have never understood the seriousness of slamming the door in the face of whanau and hapü over the issue. Because that was who really paid the price – the small coastal iwi and hapü who would never have the resources to fight or to lobby or negotiate.

Goff claims in his speech that the legislation is working because Ngati Porou did a deal with Labour under it, but what about Aitanga a Hauiti, who lost their treaty rights to their coastal rohe? Labour’s foreshore legislation picked the “large Maori corporates” as the winners and shut out the smaller iwi. Coincidentally, Goff also levelled this same criticism at National and the Maori Party in his speech:

Instead, it’s just done a deal to advantage some large Maori corporates, which other forestry companies do not get from the government, which will give the Maori corporates an estimated $1.75 billion. Let’s be clear. This deal will not benefit Maori as a whole.

I agree that the ETS deal won’t benefit whanau, but it’s completely inconsistent to then say the foreshore legislation was good because big iwi like Ngati Porou could benefit. Pot calling the kettle black.

The disloyalty by Labour to these smaller iwi was severe. It takes real leadership to say you got it wrong. Cullen’s, somewhat conditional back track on the foreshore issue in April this year certainly did not go that far, but it opened the door just a crack, showing they at least recognised a failure of judgement even as they tried to justify it.

Cullen’s position gave Labour some wiggle room over future foreshore changes. It is highly unlikely that much of the Labour scheme will change even if the Nats repeal the existing law. Labour could claim both some success of their scheme with the voters they wooed with the original act, and win some Maori support through a dignified acknowledgement that change was necessary.

At best, I could say that maybe Goff was trying to do that with this speech on the foreshore as there is some recognition of the Cullen position in it:

Back in 2004, Labour’s process on dealing with the issue, in a different environment, could have been better…

But when read alongside the other criticisms it still just comes across as anti whanau, intended or not.

Labour will be frustrated that National will get credit for foreshore reform despite their racist and despicable 2005 anti Maori campaign. But that’s one of the costs of losing an election, hell, we’re all pissed at that.

But this frustration mustn’t distort the bigger picture here: the progressive left must rebuild links with the diverse communities who are suffering under this government and that includes whanau and hapu. Goff, for all his possible intentions to build a sense of ‘nationhood’ simply delivered to National a great wedge with which to divide us.

50 Comments Posted

  1. Well i guess yeah. But in Maori terms, there is only one word. Which was what I was referring to. He tika i roto i Te Reo Maori.

  2. tautokai.baxter,

    No, the Maori tribes called themselves maori. The Europeans called them Maori. The word maori is of Maori origin but the word Maori is a European word designating a peoples. maori means common or ordinary while Maori designates a ethnically defined group. Maori is by no means the same as maori.

  3. Greenfly, thats what Maori means as well. Because thats what the tribes called themselves to the explorers. Thats what they were to themselves, just normal.

  4. The speech was just politics, having a dig at National over their ETS, trying to split the Maori Party to regain those seats for Labour, trying to appeal to middle class white people and trying to call out National’s foreshore intentions…

    I don’t really see the big deal…

  5. Didn’t know it was also “thank you”. Kia ora.

    With numbers of migrants who are stretching to learn English well enough to get along in the society, exclusive use of Te Reo is going to come across as exclusionary.

    Use it yes. Use it MORE (accompanied by an English version). It is educational for all of us who just got here.

    I am happy to pick up what I can… ( believe me – Te Reo is easier to pronounce than Russian 🙂 ) … but until I finally retire I am not likely to have time for a course.


    Russian hello => ” sdrasdvuitsya ”

    🙂 which is of course, not the way a Russian would spell it.. and I promise you that you’d be dead lucky to say it correctly twice in a row until you have practiced for a while.


  6. You can build a house, live, sleep etc on the land as such you can claim to own it, at least for a while anyway. You cannot live on the foreshore or seabed. It is not our domain.
    I ask again how can anyone own the un-ownable?

  7. Kia ora is thankyou BJ. As well as being hello or greetings. I personally think the use of Te Reo on anything is a good thing because it raises its awarness. However I do acknowledge your point BJ. But hopefully it will inspire you and others to learn, there are courses. And yes Te Reo should be compulsary in schools and I think it should be Green Party policy to 🙂

  8. Actually Toad, I am not sure that the concept is utopian. What it is, is contrary to Western thought. The notion that you can own something that existed before your parents were born and will exist after your children have died is foreign to many cultures.


  9. samiam, the same could equally be said of land. It is a utopian view that some anachists and marxists have aspired to, but it ignores the realities of history.

  10. Toad, you say…”Tangata whenua property rights over the foreshore and seabed were established long before anyone else got here”
    Now silly me, but I thought the ocean has held dominion over all of it, not us pathetic humans.
    I just don’t get how anyone can claim ownership over the unownable.
    I can understand how Maori would feel aggrieved at crown ownership. My point is that, rather than belonging to everyone (the Crown)(the commons), it should belong to no-one.
    As for some form of Maori guardianship, sorry that doesn’t cut it with me. We have had a batch, at Waimarama Hawkes Bay, all my life. It has always been and continues to be the local Maori who take, take, take on a far more destructive scale than others. It just makes me sad.
    Mana Whenua? or Mana Moana? They wouldn’t know the first thing about it.
    I’m about protecting the fish etc from greed and exploitation, I don’t want brown ownership, or white or anyone to be in a position to say ‘It’s mine’.
    I just don’t think The Greenz have thought it through far enough. Goff’s motives may be shonky, but for the Nats to play political ping pong with the coastline is disconcerting.
    If, Toad, you are correct and Tangata Whenua do have a claim, then My fallback position is that all born New Zealanders are Tangata Whenua. Anything else is racism and eliteism.

  11. Well, I don’t speak Navajo or French either. C, Fortran, C++, Ada, Java, Basic, Assembler, Lisp…. My Wife and Mom-in-law are working on me learning Russian, I have a full time job and this little avocation trying to keep the blog sorted with respect to some of the science. I’ve been here 6 years and haven’t had a chance to take the basics. I’d be happy for some sort of serial lessons in the Newspaper or something like, but I don’t have time for more than a few minutes a day… and I don’t get it.

    My kids are getting it and I am pleased with that, but I’m going to be learning whatever I can get AFTER I retire, and any speaking I do then is likely as not to have a Russian accent,S which I am sure will be amusing to someone. 🙂


  12. BTW, i dont speak the reo too well at all, but I think you should use the reo anytime you want in any forum you choose, including here. If we dont start using it like this, we wont get any better and we wont provide support the efforts to protect our indigenous language. So kia kaha greenfly and tautokai.baxter, you guys go hard.

  13. BJ, Toad;
    my rusty 100-level te reo was good enough to follow that exchange – and I learnt back in the 80’s, so I really mean rusty!

    Perhaps a spot of correspondence school or Te Wananga o Raukawa courses are in order – very cheap/free both of them. I understand some can be done via the net.

    Meyt –
    totally agree with you. Goff has always (IMHO) been a weasel, and those were definitely weasel words.

    There have always been Maaori MP’s in both of the main parties – generally, the East Cape, Hawkes Bay and South Island were Labour, with minor variations, and the King Country (Ngaruawahia) were National. The Maaori Party are mostly academic/radicals, outside of the usual frameworks that impell Maaori politics.

    If anything, Goff is having a hissy at Maaori for deserting their ‘natural’ electorate of working-class Labour support, by denigrating the changes other parties want to see enacted on the Foreshore & Seabed issues.
    There was a lot of arrogance from Labour at the time of the Hikoi, and Maaori have not forgotten this. Add the ‘terror raids’, and you get a vast amount of alienation in the electorate amongst Maaori taxpayers who feel that the State is not serving their interests at all.

  14. It’s rather polite to question what Goff is doing, before subsequently realising the inevitable political gain from disaffected liberals moving from Labour to Greens.

    The question is whether Labour’s gain of some Pakeha identity centred voters moving from National would actually outweigh liberals who vote National as they are no longer able to see one as any better than the other on such issues.

  15. @BJ 6:59

    I tend to agree. I like to use te Reo, but don’t know enough to be able to use it consistently.

    Ideally, it would be a compulsory subject in our schools, but it is not. Ideally, Government-funded courses in te Reo would be offered to migrants – but they are not.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the competency in te Reo to write many posts in it, and I know that if I were to, it would exclude many readers.

    Shit happens. Seems it wil continue to happen. This is an official language of this country, and I, am someone born and bred here, have never had the opportunity, other than at my own expense, to learn it.

    You see most Swiss and German people proficient speakers in 3, 4 or 5 languages. How come we have only one, and it is not even the one that is indigenous to this country?

    [Yep, BJ, I know it just as much shit in the US too].

  16. bj – my apologies. I got a little over-excited at having someone to talk to in Maori. Yours is a fair comment – mind you, it could be said that discussions had in ‘financial speak’, or ‘science lingo’ could be regarded as impenetrable by some of us 🙂

    Show-offs? No – I don’t agree. Just a momentary breath of fresh air.

    Never-the-less, I’ll lower the volume.

  17. Folks…

    The Te Reo is a bit much and you are being a bit rude. I’m happy to have Maori spoken if someone translates. I am NOT happy when you use it to shut out this Pakeha newcomer.

    Bunch of Show-offs.


  18. Greenfly – agreed! So long as what we mean by ‘replacing Goff’ is as leader of the opposition, not leader of the Labour party!

  19. Metiria,

    I dont know where you got the fact that Maori forestry on crown land under the ETS scheme is for native planting only and will never be logged from.

    And we don’t object to the permanent planting of native forest on public conservation land and thats what the forestry deal does.

    Perhaps you can publish the document that Nick Smith tabled in the house

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I seek the leave of the House to table the key features negotiated between the Māori Party and the Government in respect of the emissions trading scheme.

    on the 15 September.

    I cant find a reference to the tabled documents anywhere, so maybe you can shed light on the deal?

  20. @samiam 4:27 PM

    If a bunch of European Greens had arrived here and established a colony in a land devoid of any human inhabitants, I would agree with you entirely.

    But we can’t ignore history. Tangata whenua property rights over the foreshore and seabed were established long before anyone else got here. Sure, they were disputed, and sometimes wars were even waged over them.

    But to dispute that they existed would be a legal fiction (similar to the Australian terra nullus myth) that takes no account of the pre-European history of our nation.

  21. kia ora, just added a link to my speech on the ETS bill last week on the comment “I agree that the ETS deal won’t benefit whanau,”. Its the whole of the debate and the speech is about a third of the way down-ish.
    cheers mx

  22. Kia ora,

    re the forestry deal,
    I agree with Phil that whanau get squat out of this deal with the Maori Party. Unlike some I am not an advocate of the trickle down theory and while many Maori corps do great work in social services (health, ed, Ngai Tahu savings scheme) just benefiting those orgs does not mean it will automatically benefit whanau to the same degree. There are too many whanau that dont access those services or only to a small degree and they will still have to bear the burden of the ETS like everyone else.

    And we don’t object to the permanent planting of native forest on public conservation land and thats what the forestry deal does. There should be more and the public should get the benefit where ever possible, after all they have to pay the subsidies to the big polluters.

    In this analysis I am talking about the risk of a wedge between various parts of the progressive left right at the time when we need to be taking a collective approach to this ridiculous 2025 taskforce report. All the most insane, 1980s, extremist economic ideas nicely packaged into one target. Honestly, what was Brash thinking.

  23. How can ANYONE claim to own the foreshore and seabed?
    I would have thought The Greenz would be THE party advocating for non-ownership of that precious domain.
    As for customary rights to fishing etc… There are no rights. All Kai moana should be considered a privilege, only to be taken with a great sense of respect and responsibility.
    Good on Goff for querying these issues on all occasions.
    By the way, just what is ‘The Race Card’ that everyone keeps getting accused of dealing?

  24. Ko Shane Jones he tangata pai ki te aha? Ka korero ia rite tonu i te tane nui, otira e pa ana ki he aha? Te ora o te whenua, te moana ranei? He hoa ia o nga taangata maori? He tangata tika ia?

  25. tautoki.baxter

    Gerrit, the Greens don’t support Maori foresty deals on crown land. Meteria said that clearly in this thread. Get your facts right.

    You are wrong, she is against

    Instead, it’s just done a deal to advantage some large Maori corporates, which other forestry companies do not get from the government, which will give the Maori corporates an estimated $1.75 billion. Let’s be clear. This deal will not benefit Maori as a whole.

    Nothing against forestry, just the fact that large “Maori Corporates” get the cream. Like I said the elite get the pork barrel, the plebs ????

    She actually agrees with me on that score.

    I cannot find anywhere that she is against forsetry/logging per se from an environmental view point.

    Plaes point me in the right direction where it is stated she is against forestry/logging on crown land from an environmental view point?

    My question remains. If forestry/logging is permissable, how do the Greens feel if the government traded rights for mineral mining on crown land to Maori?

  26. He ahua pai ia. Engari kaore au i pirangi i tona tu hei Pirimia o Aotearoa. Heoi ano, kite ki nga Mema Paremata o Reipa.

  27. Elite and Plebs are very similar to Right and Left. They are not the same, some of the Elite have a conscience.


  28. Gerrit, the Greens don’t support Maori foresty deals on crown land. Meteria said that clearly in this thread. Get your facts right.

    Agree completly Meteria. Nga mihi nui ki a koe. Phil Goff is bad news for the left, very bad. I see a VERY bad election for Labour next time round if hes involved. Could be good for the Greens though. Their arent many to replace him in Labour though; the younger ones arent exprienced enough yet, for example Ardern even Hipkins? And i have great respect for Darren Hughes but don’t know if hes cut out for leadership material, not yet anyway. I would have to Shane Jones, but I never have thought of him as being the first Maori Prime Minister. But maybe…

  29. > Wonder if the Greens would be up in arms if Ngati Pakeha had been offered forestry/logging deals on crown land.

    > I guess forestry/logging is ok, mining not?

    Logging of old-growth forests is often equivalent to mining, but the deal in question was not about logging of old-growth forests, so it is not equivalent.

  30. The split is not based on right wing left wing factions.

    It is split between the elite and the plebs.

    Elite can pork barrel forstry/logging development on crown land, the plebs get ??????

    Wonder if the Greens would be up in arms if Ngati Pakeha had been offered forestry/logging deals on crown land.

    I guess forestry/logging is ok, mining not?

    What will the Greens say when Maori want to mine their land?

  31. BJ, I think it is fair enough to say there is a split in the Maori Party, along the lines you suggest.

    But Goff wasn’t attacking the Maori Party, or attacking the Brown Table faction – his speech attacked Maori as a whole:

    Come on, the FSA’s working fine for us white folk. I know some of you brown folk are a bit upset about losing your rights, but get over it. Together we are one nation – on my terms though, not yours).

  32. Is he creating a split?

    Or is he observing the reality of a split in the Maori party?

    I am not sure that is relevant to his competence to lead Labour to anything anywhere, which I have not observed particularly and I take the comments of those more experienced with his style seriously.

    However, my observation is that Maori have split themselves into left and right factions with motivations that appear to mirror those of NZ as a whole. There are in effect Maori National and a Maori Labour wings, and the bird is flying in circles, much like NZ is doing, because the left wing isn’t working very effectively… and neither appear to be controlled by anything like a working brain.


  33. If Labour are to have a chance in the next election then Goff needs to go.

    If he is replaced, and who he is replaced with will be an indication of whether Labour are still putting short-term political expediency before good governance.

    They deserved to loose the last election, and the Nats won by default. For Labour to win the next by default would be as bad as the Nats continuing for another term. Either would mean a sad day for robust governance in NZ.

    Who should replace Goff?

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