The updates you have been asking for

We aren't short on matters to update you on! The previous Government has left a legacy of race-based policies and legislation that the Coalition Government is having to unpick. Unfortunately, this racialised way of thinking has bled into social and cultural life also and it is largely up to organisations like ours to tackle those problems.

Segregation at University of Auckland

We filled you in about the photo that was taken of a racially exclusive room at the UoA Business School last week. Naturally the media found lots of defenders of the Māori-and-Pasifika-only room, but despite overwhelmingly negative responses online they opted not to talk to any opposers. Anyone watching and reading the reporting would reasonably deduce that only awful extremists would oppose such a thing, but the opposite is true.

The University of Auckland's Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori has since informed the media that the university won't be scrapping the segregated study spaces. At Hobson'sPledge we think the sign belongs in Apartheid South Africa or pre-Civil Rights Movement America, not New Zealand.

Māori Wards: ask the people or disestablish them!

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has announced:

““The Coalition Government’s view is that any decision to establish or disestablish a Māori ward is one that should remain with communities."

In practice, that means that any councils who have implemented Māori wards without going to a binding referendum will have to do so at the 2025 local elections. Any councils who do not want to hold a referendum must disestablish their Māori wards. The Coalition Government will introduce a Bill to achieve this in time for councils to prepare for their elections.

This is excellent news for local democracy. 

"Vague, unclear, inconsistent" - Education Minister

The new New Zealand History Curriculum the previous Government introduced has been thoroughly panned by historians and experts. It is ahistorical at best and deliberately politicised at worst.

Last week, Education Minister Erica Stanford didn't mince words when she called the history curriculum "vague, unclear, inconsistent" and promised it would undergo a "rebalance".

Labour MP Willie Jackson took a different position on the matter. He said: "why do we want to talk about everybody when we haven't even talked about Māori?...let's prioritise indigenous people to start off with."

Extremists piggyback kids' events

Whatever your opinion on the School Strike for Climate protests, they were at least in the beginning run by students and focused on their environmental concerns. This year, we saw a drastic shift away from this. 

Suddenly, the protests were being promoted as a kind of pick-n-mix of political causes including pro-Palestine, lowering the voting age, and the Te Pati Māori / Green Party view of the Treaty. Videos were popping up online of adults attempting to whip up a frenzy before the strikes. I am of course assuming that the man I saw in the video with a full beard and tattoos was not still in school!

Green and Te Pati Māori MPs were vocal in telling kids to take part in the protests and to focus on Treaty issues. The rhetoric was markedly more aggressive than previous years too. 

I can't help wondering how many parents allowed their kids to head off to an environmental protest without realising they were going to be pulled in to a number of other issues. 

Fast Track Approvals Bill

Watch out for our open letter in the New Zealand Herald this Friday. We were shocked to realise that there are some nasty fish hooks in the new Fast Track Approvals legislation.

I personally welcome the legislation in order to speed up the process of consenting important infrastructure projects, but unfortunately it has continued along the same vein as governments past by racialising certain aspects. 

The Fast Track Approvals Bill now before Parliament refers to “iwi” 56 times. It proposes four-person panels to consider major investments, with one person representing the relevant local authority and one person representing an iwi.

The Bill elevates iwi well above any other group of New Zealanders, and gives them influence in the decision-making process out of all proportion to the number of New Zealanders they represent.

We are encouraging Hobson's Pledge supporters to submit on the Bill making it clear that special rights for iwi should be removed after the select committee process. 


Marine and Coastal Areas Act (MACA)

The Marine and Coastal Areas Act was National's replacement for the Foreshore Seabed legislation when John Key was Prime Minister. John Key and Chris Finlayson (then Attorney General and Minister for Treaty Settlements) both swore at the time that the law would not result in many claims at all. We now know that was either wishful thinking or a load of crock.

With hundreds of outstanding claims and huge lengths of coastline already awarded to iwi, the reality is that MACA is enabling an enormous landgrab (coastgrab).

Both coalition agreements pledge to do something about the legislation and New Zealand First have been clear that they expect a reversal of the Act. 

We are developing a campaign to drive this issue and ensure it doesn't fall off the Government's radar. Chip in to support an end to the carve up of New Zealand's coast.

Treaty Principles Bill

Despite the wild and ever-increasing assertions from the Opposition, the media, and the Wellington bureaucracy, the Treaty Principles Bill has not yet been made public.

We can make an educated guess about what it will contain based on Minister-responsible David Seymour's comments, but the complete picture remains a mystery. Seymour and his ACT colleagues have been clear that any claims that the Bill will seek to somehow erase the Treaty are ridiculous. 

Answering the question 'what will the Bill do?' ACT says:

"The Bill will define the ‘principles’ of the Treaty. The Treaty principles are often mentioned in legislation, but they have never actually been defined in law. Instead, the task has been left to the unelected judiciary to interpret the principles in an ad hoc manner without input from New Zealanders."

This Bill has the potential to bring certainty to all New Zealanders and to halt the creative interpretation of the so-called Treaty Principles by members of the judiciary. New and more extreme reinterpretations of the Treaty are proving to be increasingly divisive and in order to move forward as a cohesive multicultural society, New Zealanders need certainty that we are all equal under the law. 

Hobson's Pledge are preparing to support the Bill, but we won't be able to do so without your support. ACT need us all to get in behind them and show Christopher Luxon and the National Party that New Zealanders want this sorted out. We must make enough of a wave in the select committee process that they cannot ignore us.

We'll keep you posted on this as we learn more.