Bigotry replugged

So, National is today returning to its old stomping ground of race. While this is predictable, it is nevertheless very sad. I, and I suspect a sizeable chunk of the National caucus, long for a day when both major parties seeking to lead a government spurn the politics of racial divisiveness. As Jeanette has just said in a press release:

Kiwis are proud of our country’s unique Maori identity, yet Don Brash wants to hide it away. While the vast majority of New Zealanders want to celebrate and foster Maori culture, Don Brash seems determined to obliterate it.

At the very time New Zealanders are marvelling at the new All Black haka, which showcases our Maori heritage to the world, Dr Brash is sharpening his scalpel to cut the Maori heart and soul out of New Zealand’s body…

Don Brash may have been an accomplished economist, but he’s a wretched historian. Maori have enjoyed a marked improvement in social statistics in the past 30 years, in no small part as a result of policies aimed at healing the wounds of our past and ensuring Maori can achieve everything they aspire to achieve. However, Dr Brash seems oblivious to this fact and is determined to undermine the very policies that have helped bring about the Maori cultural and economic renaissance.

National wishes to deny this greater social cohesion and Maori achievement and turn the clock back. It wants New Zealand to embrace the assimiliationist policies that were tried and failed in Australia. The Australian Government’s assimilationist policies led only to premature death, poverty, despair and societal breakdown, and New Zealand should have no part of them. We should be moving forward as a proud, socially cohesive nation, not a negative, divided, mean-spirited one.

Actually, I have been wondering for a while about the Parliamentary vote to abolish the Maori seats. Would Georgina te Heuheu cross the floor? Would other centrist, inclusive National MPs do likewise? Abolishing the seats wouldn’t just hurt social cohesion in New Zealand. It would also tear National’s caucus apart.

26 Comments Posted

  1. Nothing to do with the Treaty Warwick? So why did Maori have the franchise back then, before women and before non-property holders? Goodness of Pakeha’s hearts?

  2. The seats came about because when elections were first held there was a minimum property requirement, this was unfair to Maori as their property tended to be communally owned.

    This anomaly was addressed in ( not sure, from memory 1888) a long time ago when the minimum property requirement was dropped. This is when seats based on race should have been dropped as well…NOTE the racist seats have nothing to do with the treaty.

  3. Percy,

    If, by your definition, having separate toilets for men and women is “discrimination”, then by your definition there’s nothing _wrong_ with “discrimination” per se. Only unjust or unfair discrimination. And so your argument collapses.

    Your argument only appears to have force because you piggy-backing on the real meaning of “discrimination” – which is unfair or unjust treatment of people by classification instead of by individual worth.

  4. DR:

    Your memory is faulty, and I find your analysis not only grossly offensive but the kind of reactionary nationalistic tripe I’d expect from the warm up act at a NZ First rally.

  5. From memory, the Maori seats were established for a number of reasons.

    Some British settlers thought it beneath them to treat Maori as equal. It was a convenience to establish a ‘second-class’ Maori representation through the Maori only seats mechanism. Very convenient too, because ‘Maori’ issues could be given less attention, and left to the Maori MP’s.

    At the time, Maori were declining in numbers, so it was also thought to be a nice ‘noble savage’ gesture that, within a generation or two, would be unnecessary anyway as the Maori race died out.

    Several unexpected events then took place. The Ratana Church inked an arrangement with the Labour Party to deliver the seats for Labour, Maori began to move into urban areas and work in factories and come into contact with unions, some rather intelligent Maori MP’s exerted influence beyond their Maori seats, and, most importantly, the Maori population numbers began to recover as basic health issues were addressed.

    The Maori seats suddenly became what they weren’t intended [by the British] to become. Symbols of a Maori renaissance, a mechanism for real grievances to be heard within the system instead of in the streets, and, for Labour, a rock solid number of electorate seats that could be relied on to deliver power.

    In a practical sense, the Maori MP’s gradually came to hold out the promise that they could deliver real progress for Maori in return for the quid pro quo of remaining allied with Labour.

    In the past two decades, the Maori electorates have also been largely impervious to the ‘new right’ global policies that have swept the more gullible general voters along with them. They’ve evolved into something new again which was completely unintended when they were established.

    This time, they’re a potential rallying point for an alternative [dare I suggest Pacific] view, which although identified as Maori, in fact reflects a broader multi-cultural ethos which has also grown in New Zealand since the 1970’s.

    As such, National must get rid of these seats to stop anti-globalisation forces and alternative viewpoints from becoming embedded in a new generation of Maori. In it’s own way, I think the Maori Party understands this, and sees the Maori seats as a way forward together with Europeans, Pacific people and Asians, and not a way backwards.

    It’s indeed complex. It’s not black and white as Brash and Peters portray it. It’s about ideas, and having a Pacific alternative to globalisation’s negative impacts in these islands.

    Sorry this is so long, but the threads are important to understand here. What Brash wants, is to remove another obstacle for his foreign friends, and playing the ‘race card’ is a convenient way to do it.

    Let’s be real, Brash does not want Maori to be like him in racial terms, he only wants them to think like him and sell out to the highest bidder.

  6. BJ:

    You’ve asked a couple of serious (and pretty complex) questions that deserve the respect of not being answered in soundbites. So, if I take a while to get back to you it’s not because you’re being ignored.

  7. Tyranny tyranny…

    There is a good reason I keep going to a need for a formal constitution. I would like to know if Craig would regard that as a reasonable step… or are things all completely OK with the Maori party gaining clout.

    I am still trying to work out the logic that the Maori seats disenfranchise Maori. They dilute power in one of the major parties I suppose, but disenfranchise is a lot more serious.

    Would Maori have MORE seats if it weren’t for the Maori roll? Honest question folks, I haven’t got the background information.


  8. (and before I get flamed, I’m not necessarily for or against them – I think they have served a useful function but the rationale is starting to wear thin)

  9. Eredwen wrote:
    “… and please let people of Maori descent decide what it is to be a Maori, and when Maori Parliamentary Seats are no longer needed. They are more likely to be able to judge these things and can speak for themselves!”

    I reply:
    OK, this Maori is speaking up. The Maori seats should not be gone by lunchtime – they should be consigned to the dustbin of history before breakfast. They had their day and it is time for move into the 21st century.

    I hope it will happen in the House of Representatives EVERY New Zealander voted for, and following due process – including public select committee hearings where EVERY New Zealander has the right to make a submission.

  10. There is already a clear mandate to remove the Maori seats, since half of all Maori decline to ghettoise themselves on the Maori roll and opt for the general roll instead.

    The choice between two rolls is incredibly detremental to the “Maori voice”, since it encourages left-leaning Maori to go on the Maori roll, making the Maori seats “safe” and allowing National to ignore Maori, and Labour to take them for granted. In fact, the precise reason why National has never abolished the Maori seats when it has had the chance is because of the possible impact that “locked up” left vote could have had on marginal seats, especially East Coast, Northland and Rotorua.

    Maori are disenfranchised by the Maori seats and only once they are gone will the parties have any reason to take any notice of Maori.

  11. “By your definition, having two separate toilets labelled “his? and “hers? is discrimination.”

    That is discrimination.

    And I did find that definition using google. Google “discrimination”, click “definition” at the top right, and you’ll find it at number 3.

  12. Craig

    Truth, I have NO idea why or when the Maori seats were established. I’ve been too busy to get to that level of history. I do however, recognize them as an current impediment to unbridled power of the Pakeha majority. As such they are probably a good idea.

    I prefer to regard the problem as contractual rather than race-based, but “tearing National’s caucus apart” does seem a reasonable prediction of what would happen were the attempt to be made. Were National in government and attempt it, a confidence motion would likely unseat them promptly. NotPC called it racist in the very first post.. which (if I were to apply Godwin’s law as I specified, should have ended the thread there and then 🙂 – but he is no lefty ). I do try not to call people or their policies names, it inhibits reasoned discourse and I expect (hope) to learn something from you at least, in your next response 🙂


  13. Kia ora Percy (and others:)

    It is interesting that the political parties talking about “racism” and “discrimination” in the context of the Treaty (with members who presumably make sure that their Family Trusts are tied up legally, from generation to generation) don’t recognise “inheritance” when it stares them in the face.

    The Treaty of Waitangi / Te tiriti o Waitangi settlements are, and have been, about inheritance (not race.)

    If we continue to settle these carefully, the future will take care of itself:

    Pakeha who find it “unfair” and want to be part of this inheritance … make sure your kids marry someone of Maori descent (and then your Mokopuna will be inheritors!)

    … and please let people of Maori descent decide what it is to be a Maori, and when Maori Parliamentary Seats are no longer needed. They are more likely to be able to judge these things and can speak for themselves!

    Meanwhile, perhaps we need to make sure that Kiwis, newcomers and born, know more about this country’s history.

    100% Pakeha, fourth generation Kiwi

  14. BJ:

    The part of Frog’s discourse I was responding to was this: “Abolishing the seats wouldn’t just hurt social cohesion in New Zealand. It would also tear National’s caucus apart.”

    That’s month-old mouldy baloney. I think the left actually need to be a little better informed about history (and I think there’s a real lack of knowledge about why the Maori seats were established), and stop screeching “racist!” whenever someone says something they don’t like.

  15. Percy,

    That’s an odd definition of discrimination. By your definition, having two separate toilets labelled “his” and “hers” is discrimination.

    The ones I can find via google say things like “unfair or unjust treatment based on class or category rather than individual merit”.

    Do you have a reference for that very odd definition you are basing your argument on, or are you making it up?

    White Knight: “My words mean what I say they mean”

    Alice: “Isn’t it the other way around?”

    White Knight: “It’s all a matter of who is the master!”

  16. Craig

    I do understand your point, but since the thread starts out with Frog’s discourse, it is not clear to me how to apply it. Perhaps when coupled with the word “racist” or any of its derivative forms? 🙂

    I have read enough briefs on NZ history to have a pretty decent understanding of the conflict that was going on… representing it as a “war” was perhaps a little excessive, but one would be hard pressed to call it a peace.

    My point remains. The “Treaty” underpins the legitimacy of the government of NZ, and its flaws are many and its weaknesses manifest, but it is there. It would be a grave error to abrogate it unilaterally, which is what appears to be in the minds of the Nationals from their rhetoric.

    I will work through at least one of the deeper history books, but in the event that there is something about the Treaty that you believe renders it moot, I’d like to hear what it is. I read it and mulled it over several times. It is a document that divides the country on racial boundaries. It probably HAD to do that. It IS well past its “use-by” date but it cannot be abandoned until and unless the present day Maori and Pakeha agree to its successor.

    Vilify it all you wish, it is what it is. We have to deal with it, not shred it. I’ve read it numerous times and it makes for a beautiful framework for the full employment of lawyers in NZ.. It also divides the country. Uniting the country will take a far deeper look at ourselves and our structure of government and a fair division of power that can be agreed to replace the treaty itself.

    That means a formal Constitution.


  17. BJChip:

    I really think we need an indigenous version of Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies whenever ‘Maori’ enters the political conversation. I also suggest you read King, Sinclair or any other fact-based work of New Zealand history.

    BTW, Frog, I see nothing “centerist” about preserving an ugly relic of Victorian paternalism that is well past its use by date, and has (intentionally or not) only served to politically marginalise and disempower Maori for most of its history. You do realise we don’t restrict the franchise to property owners with penises any more? Why keep racially-determined representation in a multicultural, 21st century nation?

  18. BJ: Good analysis.

    PC: If you think I, for one, will be twiddling my thumbs while National tries to ram the abolition of the Maori seats bill through parliament without the consent of the Maori electorate and without a tangible legislative acknowledgement of the Treaty, you are very much mistaken. Even the black South Africans let the white electorate vote on whether they would retain their seats. It’s a trust and consent thing. And from memory the white electorate, bar two districts in the Transvaal, consented to abolish their exclusive franshise rights in favour of a new universalist constitution. Since Maori have had their property rights confiscated by the parliament within the last year there is indisputable evidence that Maori are discriminated against. Since farmers on Crown leases (overwhelmingly if not exclusively Pakeha) can turn it into freehold under this government and under National’s plans then are Pakeha not (in this context) being discriminated favourably? When Labour in it’s first year in office can give the West Coasters $110m collectively as compensation for not having the economic benefit from logging Crown forests but still have not settled Maori claims for much less and for actual redress of past murders, destruction, confiscation etc. is that not discrimination?

  19. NotPC

    There is this “WAR” thing going on see? … and it was resolved by a treaty…. Whatatango or something like that, see? … and that treaty was written with some of the wildest weasel words that exist in two languages…

    …and if we abrogate the treaty we are in violation of a solemn contract and basically back in a state of war with the original inhabitants of the country.

    Which really should set you back on your heels, but obviously doesn’t mean anything to you since your answers don’t include anything like the obvious requirement of the treaty… that Maori have a voice in a wide range of governmental policies, no matter how their electoral numbers compare with Pakeha.

    Yes it is racist. The treaty itself is a permanent division in the country. However it has to be DEALT with, not shredded and burned. Doing the latter basically puts us in legal strife with the UN, the Queen of England and our own legal system. It also may lead to actual strife in various communities… and you call it gibberish and spin and nonsense? The only way to change it legally is to accept the treaty and work with the Maori to establish a less divisive means of ensuring their ability to wield influence in the workings of our government, replacing the treaty with another structure that gives them similar but less ambiguous/litigation inviting power.

    IMHO 🙂


  20. Let’s look at the definitions:

    discrimination: Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit.

    racism: Discrimination based on race.

    Therefore, treating or considering people differently based on race, is racism. Therefore Jeanette Fitzsimons, frog and the rest of the Greens are racist (or are pandering to racists to grab votes).

    Abolishing the Maori seats, and treating people based on individual need, not race, is anti-racist.

    Jeanette’s press release is astoundingly stupid, dishonest, bigoted and downright poisonous.

    If she is re-elected then the level of racism and ignorance in this country is worse than I thought, particularly in the media, if they do not publicise this as the scandal it is.

  21. I cannot succinctly answer your question ‘Not PC’, however, I do believe that the Maori parliamentary seats should stay until from the majority of Maori electors themselves there is a clear mandate to remove those seats. Joy.

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