As we reach the final week of political campaigning and media posturing, it is a good time to reflect.
When Hobson’s Pledge was launched to defend equality before the law and to protect our democracy, we faced skepticism and dismissal from both the media and politicians of the day.
Seven years on, there is not a single public meeting, media interview, or political debate that does not include a question about race and division.
We think the facts are clear: without Hobson's Pledge's lobbying, campaigning, and petitioning, the whole issue of race and co-governance would have been largely swept under the carpet.
Over the last few weeks, we have published full-page adverts, billboards, and even circulated bumper stickers in defence of equality and unity.
Even a year ago, such publications and images would have sent the media and some members of the public into a frenzy with accusations of racism.
The fact that, rather than attacking the messenger, we are able to debate issues is a victory for democracy, and I thank you all for your continued support that has made this possible.
Professor Elizabeth Rata highlighted the need for rational communication in her recent article:
Elizabeth Rata: Two Treaties of Waitangi: The Articles Treaty and the Principles Treaty – Democracy Project
Her words highlight the importance of engaging in the discussions this election, asking the difficult questions, and ensuring your voice is heard:
“Democracy is not just arriving at a decision. It is the act of rational communication that enables the decision to be made.”
We have seen recurring instances of accusations of racism and the use of victim narratives to silence sensible discussion.
Professor Rata’s observations are very poignant: “Let us insist on democracy’s rational communication in all its complexity and disturbing power so that we know what we mean when we speak and we can justify the meaning in explicit argumentative logic. Let us insist that our parliamentary representatives do the same."
Just this week, the co-leader of the Maori Party expressed his disdain for democracy when he stated, “I am not a fan of democracy because democracy is the tyranny of the majority.”
This election offers us an opportunity to ensure that our government truly represents ALL New Zealanders and holds those elected accountable for delivering outcomes that do not divide us based on who our ancestors were.
Co-governance is an attack on our democracy.
And, according to the latest polls, the parties likely to enter Parliament after October 14 have all taken positions on co-governance.
Your vote is crucial in this election. It's your chance to send a clear message that we want better governance, not co-governance.
Authorised by: Hobson’s Pledge, Suite 311, 184 Symonds Street, Auckland 1010