We posted full-page adverts this week to advertise the fact that claimed Treaty partnership between the Crown and “Maori” is constitutionally impossible. The adverts were prompted by meetings being conducted by Crown-Maori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis, often at private maraes.
Regrettably, there is a numerically small but vocal group of Maori leaders who have worked hard over many years to use their cultural background to argue for racially-based preference in economic and governance matters.
Some of the arguments put up are not only unrelated to any common-sense interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi document, but are based on pure mumbo-jumbo.
This is dangerous stuff – preference granted on the basis of race, religion or other cultural affiliation leads to unearned privilege, unearned status, unearned profits and corruption.
Nowhere, directly or indirectly, did the 1840 agreement envisage long-term race-based preference in either property rights or the way we are governed. In these areas, the concept of “Partnership” was nowhere to be seen.
To the extent that a Court of Appeal decision many years ago canvassed this theme, the term “partnership” was used in the common law sense of requiring that the parties act reasonably and in good faith towards each other.
There was no intention to introduce anything which would lead to unearned privilege.
Some who claim to descend from Treaty signatories have seized on the word partnership and imputed to it two aspects – first that it has commercial characteristics, and second, that it involves a 50/50 approach to decision-making.
This is what this weekend’s full-page advertisements in the Sunday Star Times, the Herald on Sunday, and the Otago Daily Times, set out to challenge.
Maori wards petition rights a democratic safeguard
Those who say that the right to petition for a vote whenever a Maori ward is proposed is discriminatory do not tell the whole story, so let’s set the record straight.
An important feature of electoral law in our free democracy is that the voting system is protected in law to ensure that changes can only take place with the express approval of voters.
The Parliamentary voting system is protected under section 268 of the Electoral Act, which means it cannot be changed unless a referendum is held, or a 75 percent majority of Parliament agrees.
The same applies to local body voting. Under sections 27 to 34 of the Local Electoral Act, local electors can challenge a council’s decision to change the voting system between first past the post and single transferable vote through a district-wide referendum – if they gain the support of 5 percent of voters in a petition. The result is binding on the council for the next two elections.
Accordingly, when Helen Clark’s Labour Government in 2001 changed the law to establish Maori constituencies on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the Local Electoral Act was amended to enable other councils to create Maori wards.
However, since the introduction of Maori wards not only alters the overall makeup of a council by removing an equivalent number of general wards, it also replaces the existing voting system with a new one based on race.
Therefore, direct democracy safeguards to mirror those already used for changes to the voting system were included in sections 19ZA to 19ZG of the Local Electoral Act 2001.
This is explained in detail here https://www.nzcpr.com/race-based-democracy-opposed/#more-26298, and the racist, authoritarian behaviour of Local Government New Zealand is explained here https://www.nzcpr.com/maori-myths-legends-local-electors-deliver-stinging-rebuke-to-councils-lgnz-in-binding-polls/#more-26274
The politicians in local and central government who seek to remove the right to petition for a vote on Maori wards demonstrate their ignorance of the checks and balances built into our democracy.
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