Ross Meurant: Irony or Tragedy

As the Courts seem to unite in their support for the current Labour government quest for Customary Maori Law to usurp Statutory Law, irony emerges from the dark clouds which gather over the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The irony is; it was not Labour who opened the floodgates which have seen a tsunami of claims. It was National.

Labour now faces increasing hostility and blame for “Maorification” (1) of the country.  Whereas twelve months ago, a few were lone voices, today things have changed.

A torrent of outrage now emerges as people who once were too afraid of being labelled a racist to oppose anything Maori, no longer feel that impediment and openly express their distaste for being force fed Maori through media sponsored by government and their children being force fed a language which many regard as being worthless outside a marae.

As Hon Dr Bassett comments on the Public Interest Journalism Fund (2) established by Labour:

“Stuff received $300,000 to establish a “cultural competency course”. To encourage Maori TV, NZME, Pacific Media, News hub and support partners to take on journalism cadets who are Maori or Pacific, a cool $2.4 million was handed out. NZME that produces the New Zealand Herald got $440,000. One estimate I’ve seen is that 40% of the total beneficence will go to Maori projects.”

The current initiatives by Jacinda’s team to elevate Maori above all other cultures which contribute to the makeup of New Zealand (3), now provide propulsion pushing the political pendulum away from Labour.

A particular point of conflict focuses on some 200 claims by Maori to ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

The irony of the land grab however, by my assessment, falls squarely at the feet of former Prime Minister Rt Hon Sir John Key and his Attorney General Chris Finlayson. 

It was the National government of 2011 which overturned the protection against Maori land grab which had been provided by Prime Minister Helen Clark’s Labour government in 2004 when parliament passed the Foreshore and Seabed Act which deemed the title to be held by the Crown. 

Helen Clark made it clear to the then Chief Justice Sian Elias, following the latter’s speculative commentary about the sanctity of Maori Customary law, that the ultimate law-making body in New Zealand was its sovereign parliament.

Helen Clark’s protection was repealed and replaced by National’s John Key via the Marine and Coastal Area Act 2011.

Another irony to emerge, is that whereas a growing majority of traditional National party voters begin to resist the current government tsunami of elevating Maori above “the rest” (4) of New Zealand, the power which has been vested in Labour to embark on this “crusade”, falls squarely at the feet of the thousands of traditional Tory voters who abandoned National at the last election.

The fact that hard core traditional National seats across the country (including my former electorate where I had a 4,000 majority) went RED!  That was another tsunami.

I suspect the reason behind most National deserting the fold, was a vote against a pitiful performance by National post John Key and in the run up to the last General Election.       I was one such deserter.

The irony of MMP.

Ostensibly MMP would provide moderation against rule by one Party alone, under the First Past the Post system.

As the mathematician on my Hobson electorate correctly calculated when in 1994 I formed the first political party under MMP (and for several months formed the first coalition since the 1930ies and held the balance of power), (5) only in the most unusual circumstances would MMP ever deliver one Party the power to rule alone under MMP.

The irony is that the system of MMP gifted Jacinda, the power to rule alone.

Yet another irony is that the MMP system, promoted by Rod Donald and supported by Hon Jim Anderton, was grasped by former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger as a policy pledge in 1993 and delivered in time for the 1996 election.

The final irony in this review is that Labour Prime Ministers Rt Hon David Lange and Rt Hon Helen Clark, both rejected claims that the Treaty created a, “partnership between Maori and the Crown” and made it clear the that democratically elected Parliament is the ultimate forum where laws are made.

This irony is compounded by the opinions of Hon Richard Prebble and Hon Dr Michael Bassett; two former senior Labour government Ministers of the Crown; the later also being an esteemed historian academic who consistently speaks out against the trend to impose Maori Customary law above Statutory Law.

Yet, here we have an incumbent Labour government which forces the culture of one ethnic group of many which make up New Zealand, onto other cultures via media outlets which take government funding to promulgate their policies. (6)

The tragedy for Labour would be if the precedent of Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (7) who stepped down after pressure triggered by a corruption scandal in that he used government money to ensure positive coverage in a tabloid newspaper, might be relevant in Labour’s case, or merely irony.

The tragedy for National would be that they fail to step up and state their policy on matters raised herein and ironically wonder why their traditional voter strength has gone to ACT or NZ First.

Ross Meurant, graduate in politics both at university and as a Member of Parliament; formerly police inspector in charge of Auckland spies; currently Honorary Consul for an African state, Trustee and CEO of Russian owned commercial assets in New Zealand and has international business interests.