A lesson well learned in Capitalism 101
As Joshua Hitchcock posted Twitter a couple of nights ago,
“The Hypocrisy of the Political Right: We believe in property rights, except when they are claimed by indigenous people. We despise collectivism, except when it comes to beaches and waterways which everyone owns”
(Acknowledgement: Maui Street blog)
It seems to have escaped most folk that Maori are making a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal for water ownership rights as a final, last ditch effort to thwart National’s thieving policy of partial asset sales. To date, all other legal, non-violent means of resisting asset sales has fallen on deaf ears.
After two embarressing back downs (mining in conservation lands and Hekia Parata’s attempt to slash teacher numbers), National cannot afford another crushing retreat on any significant policy. It would be the electoral death-knell for the National Party, and would render John Key a political eunuch.
So the Nats have hunkered down. This is going to be messy ‘trench warfare’, and they were counting on the passage of time to defeat the anti-privatisation movement.
Enter the Maori Council, stage left.
And perhaps the only means left to ordinary citizens; the Treaty of Waitangi. This time, despite the blind ignorance of mouth-frothing racists, employment of the Treaty will ultimately be to the benefit of Pakeha, as well as Maori.
John Key may well be legally correct when he says that no government is bound by the Waitangi Tribunal – though somewhat inappropriate and inflammatory.
But not so correct if the Maori Council takes the next step and sues the Government through the Courts. Now we’re playing hard ball, and no Government can ignore a Court decision. (Not unless the Westminster system is being replaced by a model more closely resembling North Korea.)
This is where rabid racists in our community have been screaming hysterically. (See: It’s official: racists aren’t very bright ) Try to explain to these neuron-challenged rednecks that the Maori Council are trying to save our own assets from falling into the hands of investors from Berlin, Beijing, or Boston, and their mouth-frothing hysteria increases in intensity. These are not people that one can reason with.
Yet there is a delightful irony at work here…
- Maori are claiming ownership rights over water. The concept of private property and ownership rights is a concept that we Pakeha introduced into Aotearoa, upon colonisation. Up till then everything had been communally owned by the Iwi.
- John Key says “no one can own water”. Yet, the government and local body councils think nothing of charging for metered water in some regions and urban areas. Government sells radio frequencies to the highest bidders. Government sells mining and drilling rights to corporations. Government sells fishing quota – with the implication that Government owns ALL the fish in New Zealand’s territorial waters. And of course, we each (generally) own the land that our houses, businesses, factories, and farms rest on. Maori have simply taken this concept to the next logical conclusion; Capitalism at work.
- Maori are employing the judicial system and testing the law through the Courts – another Pakeha construct which Maori have learned very well to use.
Those racists who think that “no one can own the water” might pause to consider that the concept of private ownership did not originate with Maori.
We Pakeha brought it to this country.
Private ownership and the judicial system were alien concepts, introduced by colonisers, who made good use of property laws, Courts, and armed State enforcement to suit themselves.
Maori have learned the lessons of the coloniser. They have passed all tests when it comes to “Capitalism 101″. The Pakeha system is one that suits Maori very well when it comes to addressing grievances of past land confiscations and other crimes committed against them.
However, on this occassion, Maori are using the Waitangi Tribunal and the Courts – not for their own purposes – but for the common good of the country. They may be the ones to save our multi-billion dollar assets from being flogged off by ex-money trader, John Key, and his crony-capitalist mates.
Racists may not appreciate this – but they should be bloody thankful for what Maori are doing.
Nothing else has worked thus far.
= fs =