Hidesight: Legal wringer turns Treaty inside-out

The total stupidity of the Waitangi Tribunal was full on display last week. I refer, of course, to the finding that Maori re-offending is a Treaty breach. It's bad enough that such reports are written let alone that we taxpayers must fund them.

They are a disgrace to reason, to logic, to sound government and to good policy.

The finding is that government is responsible for Maori offending and then re-offending.  Or to put it another way, that government is responsible for me NOT offending and then re-offending.  That’s because the key evidence before the Tribunal was the Maori rate of offending and re-offending is disproportionate.

It’s almost too stupid for words.

The government -- as big, and as horrible at it is -- does not cause anyone to bash, rape or murder.  That’s a choice that individual’s make, not government.

The problem of Maori offending and re-offending is also not a Treaty breach.  The only way that works is to put the Treaty through the legal wringer for forty years to twist, distort, and totally invert meaning.  In doing so, the Tribunal triumphantly quotes itself so its reasoning gets madder and madder with every finding.

Thus we understand perfectly the Preamble where Queen Victoria is “anxious to protect [the Native Chiefs and Tribes] just Rights and Property and to secure them the enjoyment of Peace and Good Order”.  That means dealing to the ratbags, non-Maori and Maori.

But the Tribunal have twisted that to protecting Maori “well-being” and that well-being is not protected wherever there is disparity in outcome.  Maori offending and re-offending is disproportionately high.  Ipso facto, there is a Treaty breach.  The government must do something for Maori to reduce and presumably eliminate the disparity.  That’s because of Queen Victoria’s desire to protect “the Native Chiefs and Tribes … just Rights and Property”.  It’s a huge leap.  Indeed, the Tribunal has totally turned Queen Victoria’s desire inside-out and upside-down.

The Tribunal also quotes itself to declare that Article 3 that ”imparts to the [Natives] all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects” demands equity in outcome.  Equity in outcome destroys all Rights.  It must be one or the other.  It can’t be both.  The Tribunal’s demand for equity in outcome overturns Article 3.

Of course, Partnership is also pulled out of the Treaty like a rabbit from a hat.  It’s been declared so many times that the Tribunal just know it to be true.  That’s right, Queen Victoria partnered up with the “native peoples” and somehow generations on it means government must take match Maori offending rates to non-Maori .

No sane person takes it seriously, not least of all those banged up in prison, and especially not their victims, most of whom are Maori.  But Tribunal pronouncements are treated as holy writ in Wellington.  They’re part and parcel of the Wellington psychosis.

By Rodney Hide

First published in the National Business Review on April 21, 2017.