Key leaves lingering racist legacy

Few other politicians have done more to create conditions ripe for the destruction of racial equality

Michael_Coote.jpgGone-by-Monday Prime Minister John Key shrewdly picked a retirement date amenable for collecting one of those New Year’s honour knighthoods he personally reinstated.

His timing is opportune for him, not least because of the gathering catastrophe for New Zealand democracy he has engineered but can now slough parliamentary accountability for.

In 2017, the bitter fruits of the Key government’s wrongheaded Maori policies will become much more apparent. Few other politicians in modern history can have done more than Mr Key to create conditions ripe for the destruction of racial equality.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson comes close but, ultimately, Mr Key bears the greater responsibility.

The problem goes back to Mr Key’s decision to enlist the racialist Maori Party to help prop up National-led minority governments.

With the Maori party came its puppet-master the Iwi Chairs Forum, a corporate Maori organisation.

Direct engagement

Dr Muriel Newman records how this has played out in practice.

“In 2008, when John Key was elected Prime Minister, he brought the Maori party into his government and established preferential access for iwi leaders to cabinet,” she says.

“ A Communication and Information Exchange Protocol” was drawn up and signed by the prime minister and iwi leaders to ensure their views are represented in cabinet and in the policy development process.

“In particular, [Iwi Chairs Forum subsidiary] the Freshwater Iwi Leaders group engages directly with senior government ministers at least three times a year, and government ministers regularly attend the quarterly Iwi Chairs Forum meetings – the latest in August in the Waikato, where five government ministers were in attendance.”

Mr Key’s favoured successor, Finance Minister Bill English, has publicly endorsed this arrangement.

The Iwi Chairs Forum has also signed a memorandum of understanding on working with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), as reported previously in this column.

The organisation is working to establish “Treaty partnership” power sharing under the guise of Maori tribal co-governance arrangements with both central and local government.

This year its Independent Iwi Constitutional Working Group  published a document on “constitutional transformation” entitled He Whakaaro Here Whaukaumu  Mo Aotearoa, which sets out a five-year plan for promoting law changes that would permanently privilege Maori descendants over all other New Zealanders.

Such is the calibre of the fundamentally racist programme that Mr Key has nurtured, facilitated, legitimated and normalised through his devil’s bargain with the Maori Party, which is not even a loyal coalition partner.

Meretricious deal

Big Maori policy issues Mr Key is doing a frantic runner from encompass local government, resource management, freshwater policy and conservation.

Through Treaty settlements negotiated by Mr Finlayson, Maori tribes have been granted numerous statutory co-governance roles with democratically elected local governments.

New Zealanders have not been warned or consulted by the Key government about this recipe for corruption, nepotism and conflict of interest. But they will suffer the impact from next year on as ever more Treaty settlements come into legal force.

The Resource Management Act’s rewrite has seen Environment Minister Nick Smith cutting a meretricious support deal with the Maori party in return for including the statutory obligation for all democratically elected local authorities to consult with Maori tribes in “iwi participation agreements.”

The Maori Party is ecstatic as this requires that “Mana Whakaahono a Rohe” will be written into the legislation, meaning in the words of a related Ngai Tahu submission that tribes could undertake “the handling of resource consent applications, notifications decisions, monitoring and enforcement.”

Local communities have not yet woken up to this attempted hijacking of their private property rights. Auckland alone has 19 recognised iwi authorities to deal with.

Freshwater rights are a huge issue coming up next year.

Mr Key has tried to maintain that no one owns the water -  a reprise of Mr Finlayson’s stunt over the foreshore and seabed legislation but the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group thinks otherwise.

Dr Newman reports the government is well advanced in closed-door collaboration with the Iwi Chairs Forum on a three year freshwater policy development process but has decided “No further media announcements are intended,” obviously to stifle public debate.

Plus there is the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, a pet Key initiative that has collided with litigious Maori tribal fishing interests.

Arise, Sir John, for services to racial inequality.

Michael Coote

First published: National Business Review: ”On the Money”,  December 9, 2016