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Ihumātao – What Pākehā should *NOT* do

1 October 2019 2 comments

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With some historical and present context, it should become readily apparent to Pakeha that the occupation at Ihumātao is not a free-for-all conflict for any and everyone to become involved in.

First, some important dates:

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1840

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The year in which the Treaty of Waitingi was signed. Article Two of the Treaty was especially important for Maori;

Article Two

Māori version: confirmed and guaranteed the chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ – the exercise of chieftainship – over their lands, villages and ‘taonga katoa’ – all treasured things. Māori agreed to give the Crown a right to deal with them over land transactions.

English version: confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs ‘exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties’. The Crown sought an exclusive right to deal with Māori over land transactions.

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1863

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Twenty three years after the last signature to the Treaty document had dried, land at  Ihumātao was seized ‘by proclamation’ under the New Zealand Settlements Act. Four hundred hectares of land at Ihumātao was taken by the Colonial Government and transferred to settler families in the area;

“There was an accusation that was levelled against Waikato that there was an imminent plot to attack the settlers of Auckland. It was a fabrication, part of [Governor George] Grey’s dodgy dossier,” says O’Malley. “The accusation was window-dressing for the British Colonial Office, to give the appearance that Grey had no choice but to take troops into the Waikato.”

More than 400 hectares of land at Ihumātao was confiscated by the Crown, as punishment for the community’s allegiance to the King movement, and given to a handful of settler families.

Article two of the Treaty had been well and truly breached. “Exclusive possession of the land” had been “disturbed” as thoroughly as it could be.

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2008

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The Crown recognised Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority with which to undertake settlement negotiations for breach-of-Treaty claims.

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2014

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A Deed of Settlement was signed at Makaurau Marae in Māngere, between the Crown and Te Kawerau ā Maki Iwi Authority.

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2016

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A group of tangata whenua calling themselves SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) establish a presence at Ihumātao Quarry Road.

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Present

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The presence  of SOUL and supporters at Ihumātao had swelled to several thousand people, from all over the country. The congenial attitude of Police, interacting peacefully with protectors/protestors, could be seen as the ‘New Zealand Way’ of doing things. (Subsequently, that good-will took a severe battering when some twit within the Police hierarchy thought it would be a ‘clever idea’ to publicly carry a firearm in the vicinity of the occupation.)

Politically, there have been many voices demanding many forms of ‘action’ or ‘intervention’.

From ACT’s shallow knowledge of history and feeding red-meat to it’s reactionary base;

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Mr Seymour’s references to the occupiers “break[ing] the law and illegally occupy[ing] other people’s private property“; “legitimis[ing] unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation“, and “capitulat[ing] to a ragtag bunch of socialists and prison abolitionists” can only be described as a toxic, noisome, brew of crass ignorance and racism.

There is black irony and unashamed hypocrisy is describing the occupation as “break[ing] the law and illegally occupy[ing] other people’s private property” and “legitimis[ing] unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation” when the land was originally unlawfully seized, illegally occupied, and on-sold to colonial settlers in the first place.

His description of the occupiers as “a ragtag bunch of socialists and prison abolitionists– without once mentioning that they were tangata whenua, was wilfully insulting, with more racism piled on.  David Seymour is without self-awareness or shame with his appalling comments.

Then we heard Simon Bridges criticising Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern making a state visit to Tokelau on Radio NZ;

“She’s put herself in it and where is she? She’s taken herself off for days to Tokelau – 1500 people – well every MP has a street she hasn’t visited that has many more people than that and look, whether it’s the stalling economy, whether it’s Ihumātao, whether it’s a bunch of other issues – the prime minister and government are showing themselves to be a part-time prime minister and government.”

But when asked by Radio NZ’s Corin Dann if she should have attended Ihumātao, his equivocation was cringeworthy and embarrassing;

“No. Because I don’t believe a leader necessarily needs to insert themselves in this. I think that’s – [interuption]

[…] She shouldn’t have got involved.

[…] She got involved. She set a bad precedent.

[…] I would not be intervening in this particular instance, the way the Prime Minister is.”

On Twitter, Russell Brown from the Public Address blog, put it perfectly when he summed up Simon Bridge’s insanely contradictory statements;

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Hone Harawira said it most clearly;

“It would be nice to see the Māori ministers leading here rather than being told what to do by Jacinda. I don’t think she knows what’s going on here. Stay overseas. Leave it to Peeni and the whānau here. Let’s get it done.”

This is especially vital considering that the dispute over Ihumātao appears to be a schism with local Māori. As RNZ’s Te Manu Korihi Editor, Shannon Haunui-Thompson, explained;

This isn’t a Māori versus Fletcher issue – on both sides are members of the same iwi, hapū and whānau.

When the eviction notices were served yesterday, well-respected kaumātua of Te Kawerau a Maki and Te Akitai accompanied police and asked for the occupation to end and for them to leave Ihumātao peacefully. They even performed a karakia.

Ms Haunui-Thompson also rejected that the dispute was “generational”;

“…to say it’s a rangitahi [younger generation] issue is incorrect. There’s definitely a divide though amongst the iwi, amongst the hapu and whanau.”

To make it clear, it was not for the Prime Minister to intervene. Calls for her to visit Ihumātao were misguided. Her presence, at best, would be symbolic. At worst, misconstrued as more pakeha paternalism.

What was appropriate was for Māori MPs to visit; to listen; to facilitate where possible; to carry back to the Government what they had seen and heard. Māori working with Māori.

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“It’s a tense feeling here at Ihumātao as ministers arrive at the whenua.” – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui, Radio NZ, @teaniwahuri

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Simon Bridges then played the “law and order” and “private land rights”, cards. On 30 July, interviewed on  TVNZ’s “Q+A”, Jack Tame asked the current National Party Leader if he “would support police removing the people who are occupying the land at the moment“. Mr Bridges dodged the question;

“Well, it’s pretty simple when it comes to protests. You have an absolute right in this country to legitimate, fair, vociferous protest; you don’t have a right to break the law and get in the way of other people’s lawful activity.”

When asked again, Mr Bridges played the “Dumb Card”;

“Well, I don’t know the ins and outs…”

It was a simple question. It had only two possible answers;

  1. Yes, I would support the police removing protestors.
  2. No, I wouldn’t support police removing protestors.

There is no third option.

Any mature person watching that exchange and listening to Mr Bridges’ response could reasonably infer that (a) Simon Bridges had no idea whatsoever of the issues surrounding Ihumātao or (b) understood the issues perfectly well, but did not have the guts to offer a definitive answer.

Neither option is an edifying position for The Man Who Would Be Prime Minister. If he doesn’t “know the ins and out” perhaps he should do what all new MPs do in Parliament: breathe through his nose.

Barely two weeks later, Simon Bridges was once again pontificating by press release, On 11 August, he demanded that Prime Minister Ardern tell “protestors to go home and let the landowners build houses for Aucklanders“.

So there we have it: Simon Bridges is of the opinion that Jacinda Ardern has the Stalinist power to command  “protestors to go home“.  Who would have thought she wielded such Imperial Roman authority over her subjects. Mr Bridges had best tread cautiously; the Prime Minister could send him packing as well.

The reality is that Mr Bridges can comfortably pontificate  what should or should not be done. Or both. His comments can (and have been) as contradictory as he fancies. He can cause harm; sow discord; rattle nerves. From the relative safety and responsibility-free-zone of  the Opposition, he can say whatever he likes, regardless of consequences.

What is telling is that none of his utterances have been in any way constructive. His chest-thumping machismo no substitute for calmer, cooler heads. We are fortunate that he is nowhere near the “levers of power”.

Contrast Simon Bridges’ incoherence and impotence with that of the solemn mana of the Māori King, Kiingi Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII, who on 3 August was welcomed onto Ihumātao with a formal pōwhiri;

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Kiingi Tūheitia offered to mediate between protectors/protestors and the Iwi authority to find a way forward. Kiingitanga spokeswoman, Rukumoana Schaafhausen, said;

“We have to hear all the mana whenua and find a way forward that works for all of them.”

The meeting would not include Fletchers, or the Government, Schaafhausen said. 

And that is the point that has eluded most people: this issue is for mana whenua to discuss and to arrive at a solution. It is not for the pakeha Coalition government to intervene. It is not for the police to force protestors out. And it is most certainly not for self-serving politicians from the Right to exploit this issue for a perverted “law and order” beat-up to win a few votes from ill-informed redneck voters.

This is for Māori to resolve.

As the Māori version of Article Two of te Tiriti states;

“…confirmed and guaranteed the chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ – the exercise of chieftainship”

At a time when Māori are determined to take firmer control of their own affairs – such as up-lifting and placement of Māori children by Oranga Tamariki – resolving disputes such as Ihumātao can only achieved by those directly involved.

The Crown – represented by the government – can assist. It can mediate. And in the end it can listen.

On 18 September, mana whenua announced that they had negotiated and reached a decision;

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Māori had arrived at a resolution. By Māori, for Māori.

Kiingi Tūheitia explained the position that had been arrived at:

“Mana whenua agree they want their land returned, so they can make decisions about its future.”

Kiingi Tūheitia further expressed mana whenua’s desired outcome:

“Kiingitanga has conveyed the views of mana whenua to the government and urged it to negotiate with Fletchers for the return of Ihumātao to its rightful owners.”

Now is the rightful moment for the Crown, through the Coalition Government, to sit at the table and play it’s rightful part as one of the two Treaty partners.

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References

Encyclopedia of New Zealand – Te Ara: Treaty of Waitangi – Interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi

Radio NZ: Ihumātao land battle – a timeline

New Zealand Geographic: When worlds collide

NZ Government: Te Kawerau ā Maki – Summary

NZ Government: Te Kawerau ā Maki

NZ Herald: Battle for Ihumātao – How farmland became a flashpoint

Fairfax/Stuff: Police officer sings with protesters at Ihumātao

Fairfax/Stuff: Ihumātao – Police deny carrying firearms at protest after Facebook video outcry

Twitter: David Seymour – Ihumātao – 10:25 PM – July 26, 2019

Twitter: David Seymour – Ihumātao – 11:01 AM – July 27, 2019

Twitter: David Seymour – Ihumātao – 08:12 AM – July 28, 2019

Radio NZ: Ihumātao – Simon Bridges slams PM for timing of Tokelau trip

Radio NZ: Bridges defends ‘part-time PM’ criticism of Ardern

Twitter: Russell Brown – Ihumatao – Simon Bridges – 7:34 AM – July 31, 2019

Radio NZ: Ihumātao – Government ministers welcomed to protest site with powerful powhiri

Radio NZ: Explainer – Why Ihumātao is being occupied by ‘protectors’

Twitter: Te Aniwa Hurihanganui – Ministers arrive at Ihumātao – 12:11 PM, July 27 2019

TVNZ: Q+A – Simon Bridges interviewed by Jack Tame

Victoria University: Research Archive – Breathing Through their Noses – Candidate Selection and Role Adaptation amongst First-Term MPs in the New Zealand Parliament

National: Tell them to go home, Prime Minister (alt.link)

NZ Herald: Kīngitanga flag raised at Ihumātao, to stay until resolution reached

Fairfax/Stuff media: Ihumātao – Māori King invites mana whenua to meet to find a solution

TVNZ: ‘By Māori, for Māori’ – Oranga Tamariki hui reveals Māori want to look after their own

Radio NZ: Mana whenua reach decision on Ihumātao land

Beehive: Government welcomes Kingitanga statement on Ihumātao

The Spinoff: Mana whenua have agreed to keeping the land at Ihumātao. So what comes next?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 September 2019.

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Letter to the Editor: How anti-democratic is an un-elected leadership?

30 April 2014 2 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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This recent event in New Plymouth caught my attention and I couldn’t but help notice the strange contradictions it presented…

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Dismay as iwi voting rights denied

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So I put words-to-screen and sent off this email to the editor of the Taranaki Daily News,

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FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:59:45 +1200
TO: "Taranaki Daily News" <editor@dailynews.co.nz>

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The Editor
Taranaki Daily News

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Kia Ora,

I was disappointed to learn that on 15 April the New
Plymouth City Council voted  against a proposal for Iwi
representation on the NPCC.

The most common rationale (if it could be called "rational")
given was that Iwi representation by appointment would be
"un-elected" and therefore "un-democratic". 

I was intrigued by that. 

I wonder how many of the Councillors and citizens of New
Plymouth who oppose Iwi representation on the Council
realise that our Head of State - Queen Elizabeth II - is
also un-elected.

This does not seem to bother a fair number of New
Zealanders.

How bizarre that so many people seem to view an un-elected
Head of State; living on the other side of the planet; with
marginal connection to our nation - as some kind of
"normality".

But a Treaty partner; our fellow countrymen and women; who
live alongside us, are kept well away from the council table
because they were "not elected". How convenient, also, that
being a minority,  Iwi is denied having elected
representation on Council. So sayeth the tyranny of the
Majority.

Skin colour wouldn't have anything to do with this clear
example of double standards, by any chance?




-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

 

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References

Taranaki Daily Mail:  Dismay as iwi voting rights denied


 

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The sacking of the national govt

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

6 September 2012 11 comments

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National is in deep trouble.

Very deep trouble.

A clusterf**k of bad stories; low growth; a growing flood of New Zealanders escaping to Australia; rising unemployment; an unpopular asset sales agenda that has  turned into an unholy  mess; and a recent slew of massive job redundancies has left National sinking in the polls.

See previous blogpost: John Key’s “Bright New Future”

The last Roy Morgan poll had the Nats at 44.5% –  now polling lower than it did last November, where it won  47.31% of the vote.

See recent blogpost: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government

At this current rate of dropping public support, National’s electoral defeat in 2014 (if not earlier), will be more like a rout than a close-result.  We may be looking at a repeat of the 2002 general election where National’s support collapsed, leaving a rump-vote of 20.93%.

See: New Zealand general election, 2002

A result  of that magnitude would mean 32 National MPs losing their seats.

If this blogger is aware of this simple fact, then you can bet your cotton socks that National’s party strategists are on over-drive.

National’s response, every time, is to employ deflection. The above image – “National:  Spin The Wheel Policy Development Process” – is not so much a funny picture as an actual strategy process.

During the last spate of bad headlines, National floated “kites” on sterilising beneficiaries and “encouraging”  solo-mums (but never solo-dads) and their daughters (but never their sons) on to contraception. (The unspoken inference being that all solo-mothers – but never solo-dads – are reckless “breeders”, and ignoring problems surrounding domestic violence, substance abuse, gambling addiction, marital affairs, etc.)

More recently  recently, the last dog-whistle was drug-testing the unemployed. (The inference being that all 164,000 unemployment are jobless by choice; on drugs; and unwilling to work.)

Never mind the ongoing Global Financial Crisis recession – that excuse is reserved solely for John Key and his ministerial cronies to use,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis..” – John Key

See:  View from the top

In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce

See: Parliamentary Questions and Answers – August 29

However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee

See: Petrol excise, road user charges increases

The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English

See: English warns of financial crisis lasting a generation

With low polling and redundancies dominating the headlines, National has cast about for another dog-whistle to distract the easily-led Middle class.

They’ve done the unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) “to death”.

Next minority on the List; Maori.

Cue: John Key’s derisory response to the upcoming nationwide  hui on water rights,

The Government does not believe there should be a national hui; does not believe there should be a national settlement and it probably would not recognise all of the rights and interests that some Maori groups believe they have.

If the Crown was to be represented at the hui, and it wont be, because we’ve said were not having a national hui, we don’t support that…if you are an MP in the government you represent the Crown and any representation by my MPs at such an event would be interpreted as representation by the Crown.

I’ve made that position absolutely crystal clear..I do not accept the view that there needs to be a national hui, because I do not accept there will be a national settlement, because I do not accept it’s a national issue.”

See: Key – Government won’t go to water hui

Maori-bashing.

Almost as good as bene-bashing.

Or “get tough on crime/crush cars” rhetoric.

“Standing tough” with Maori “demands” for water rights will probably work a treat with racist rednecks and low-information voters.  With the former, their racism is deeply ingrained and such ignorance can be written of like the forty-plus financial companies that sucked billions out of mums and dads investors.

With the latter, it is a matter of education and dispelling myths and prejudice, before people’s  eyes eventually open and they connect-the-dots.

National will probably rebound in the polls on this strategy.

So unfortunately, Greens co-leader, Russell Norman is missing the point when he suggests that National has “blundered again” by deciding to boycott the Hui,

For the Government to say that it won’t even attend and will actually ban its MPs from attending is the exact antithesis of good faith negotiation and is yet another blunder from this Government.”

See: MP ban on attending water hui ‘another blunder’

There is no “blunder” involved here. This is naked, machiavellian politicking by National’s back-room boys.

Realistically, though,  they can only use this kind of demonisation and deflection  a few times before the public start to realise that they are being “played”. People wise up pretty quickly – especialy when Opposition Parties, political commentators, media, and bloggers patiently explain what the Nats are up to.

Too much Maori bashing  may even force the Maori Party to make some hard decisions. Do Sharples and Turia really want to be associated with a right wing party that vilifies Maori aspirations and exploits our society’s latent racist underbelly for their own ends?

Especially when a growing perception that Sharples and Turia seem  slavishly tied to National. Are they also  obedient to Dear Leader John Key’s diktat that all National MPs stay away from the upcoming nationwide Hui?

Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia stated categorically,

“Well at this point I don’t really see the point in going.”

And Pita Sharples followed,

We believe this is a thing that iwi/hapu have to work out themselves.”

See:  Maori Party likely to snub water rights hui

So whistle-away, Dear Leader.

But eventually,  as Abaham Lincoln pointed out,

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

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A temporary victory for common sense?!

2 August 2012 2 comments

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Full story

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Whoda thunk it – Maori saving New Zealand from the worst excesses of neo-liberalism.

And who would have thought that the Treaty of Waitangi – a 172 year old document – would be used  to preserve our state assets from being flogged of  by a Party that barely achieved 47.3% of the Party vote last year. National scored 1,058,636 votes out of a population of 4.4 million – not exactly a cast-iron mandate, but there you have it.

For some free marketeers, 1,058,636 trumps 4.4 million. No wonder so many finance companies went bust – they can’t count.

Most mind-numbingly depressing is that evidently many New Zealanders who voted for John Key and the National Party did so despite their opposition to asset sales.

Which really, when you think about it, is like going to a supermarket wanting  to buy a can of peaches; picking a can of Watties Beans instead; taking it home; opening it – and then expressing disappointment that the can doesn’t contain peaches.

?!?!

In all my life, I can’t say I’ve ever done that. Buying peaches and expecting beans…

When this blogger started passing the CIR petition to call for a referendum on the issue, the second and third signatories were two tradesmen. Both burly blokes who had voted National.

They almost grabbed at my pen to sign.

Guilt, I guess.

The Maori Council’s appeal to the Waitangi Tribunal has resulted in the Tribunal making a recommendation to postpone any and all asset sales, until water rights for Maori are resolved. This is no small matter.

Up till now, with water being used by state-owned enterprises, for the benefit of the entire country – Maori were content  to leave that precious  resource under State control/ownership.

It is only when National raised the ugly spectre of SOE privatisation that matters changed. All of a sudden – despite the water flowing through hydro-dams not being directly owned by the power companies – that resource was to be used to general private profit for private investors.

Screw that, thought Tangata Whenua and many fair-minded Tau Iwi.

And rightly so.

There is precedence here,

During the Second World War, the New Zealand Government took land from indigenous Māori owners by acquisition for the purpose of a military airfield. Instead of these being handed back to its former owners (the Tainui Awhiro peoples) when no longer required for defence purposes, part of the land, a 62-acre (250,000 m2) block was turned into a public Raglan golf course in 1969. “

Source

13 February 1988 is a day of thanksgiving and celebration for the return of Māori land. 25 hectares by the Raglan harbour was taken by the Crown for defence purposes during the Second World War. Later it became the Raglan golf course. Now it’s back in the hands of Tainui Awhiro people.

In 1978, seventeen Māori protesters were arrested on the golf course for trespass. Their court appearance set off a chain of events which trailed through the courts amidst bitter argument at local and national level, but finally led to the return of the land to local Māori people. The golf course has been re-sited in the hills overlooking Raglan.

In 1988, more than a thousand people gather to remember those who fought for what they considered a triumph over injustice. “

Source

Whilst the land was used in the defence of the nation, Maori were prepared to tolerate the State “acquiring” (ie, confiscating) it.

But once the war was over,  Maori had a reasonable expectation that it be returned to them. Instead, the pakeha state gave it to the Raglan Golf Club, and Maori had to fight through the Courts to have was was rightfully theirs, returned to them.

I doubt if any redneck pakeha would tolerate his or her house been confiscated by the State, without compensation, and later on-sold to developers.

The same can be said of water. Maori were prepared to share this resource with all of New Zealand.

But once National decided to sell four power companies, this changed the entire management/benefits dynamics. As our American cuzzies put it;  “it’s a whole new ball game, Jethro!”.

There are, unfortunately, a sizeable number of pakeha who say that “no one owns the water”.

Really?

Have a look at your local body rates bill. Notice how much you’re paying for water “no one owns”?

And isn’t it funny that until Pakeha rocked up onto the shores of the Land of The Long White Cloud, Maori had no concept of private ownership? An Iwi or hapu had sovereignty over an area of land and waterways – but no one  person owned anything. It was all communal.

Enter boatloads of pakeha and their alien notion of “private property”.

Suddenly, land was owned by individuals.

Maori were expected to get used to this alien concept. In fact, they had little choice, and to their credit they adapted well to the Pakeha system. They also realised the power of the Courts and the legal system – another pakeha construct.

Maori are now using the Courts (a pakeha system) to gain ownership (a pakeha notion) over waterways. The Treaty (a pakeha instrument) is their contract with the Crown (a pakeha hierarchical institution) that guarantees Maori undisturbed possession of their “treasures” (assets).

And all of a sudden, pakeha are claiming collective ownership of water?!

Talk about trying to change the rules half-way through the game!

Once this issue hits the Court system, expect delays as the case drags through the High Court, then Court of Appeal, then Supreme Court. It could be a very, very drawn out process.

In which case, Maori and a 172 year old document may have stymied the theft of our State assets. Just as the Treaty was designed to stop the theft of Maori assets.

Funny, how things turn out for the good.

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Is pressure getting to Key?

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It would be fair to say that National’s asset sale programme is highly unpopular with the majority of New Zealanders – and with a sizeable portion of National Party voters. In fact, it would be fair to say that those individuals and organisations in favour of asset sales would be a distinct minority.

John Key doggedly maintains that National has a “mandate” for the partial-privatisation of Solid Energy, Meridian, Genesis, Meridian, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.

Whilst it’s true that National’s 1,058,636 party votes trumped Labour’s 614,937 – National’s support is less than one quarter of the population of this country. And when votes for Labour, NZ First, the Greens, Mana, Maori Party, and the Conservative Party are added together – they outnumber the combined votes for National, ACT, and United Future.

The only reason that National-ACT-United Future have a current one-seat majority in Parliament is because the Conservative Party did not break the 5% threshold, nor win an Electorate seat.

See:  2011 general election official results

ACT, but contrast, gained less than half the number of votes that the Conservative Party did – but because of the quirky Electorate Seat Threshold rule (which lets Parties enter Parliament despite not breaking the 5% threshold), still gained one seat.

For the second time in two elections, a small Party has won more votes than ACT – but ACT has slipped back into Parliament because of National-ACT manipulation of the Electorate Seat Threshold. The other Party failed to win seats because it failed to break the 5% threshold or win an Electorate.

The Electoral Commission is currently reviewing MMP and it is likely that they will recommend to Parliament that the Electorate Seat Threshold be eliminated, as it serves no logical, discernible purpose and undermines the proportionality of  our electoral system.

National’s “mandate” is therefore as shonkey as some of John Key’s promises.

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The Maori Party finds itself in the same invidious position that NZ First was in 1998, and the Alliance in 2001. Both Parties were ‘tested’ by unforeseen circumstances, and the subsequent  political stresses and public pressures tore both Parties apart.

The Alliance was effectively destroyed, and NZ First split in two, and never recovered it’s electoral hey-day support of  13.35%.

The Maori Party finds itself in a similar Rock-vs-Hard Place situation, as it contemplates public pressure over it’s support for National – even as it’s leader, John Key, has trashed the Waitangi Tribunal by stating categorically that  it is not bound by Tribunal decisions and may gnore it’s recommendationa.

It has always been known (except by low-information voters) that Waitangi Tribunal decisions are not binding on any government. But governments of both Left and Right have, up till now, had the common sense and common courtesy to reserve judgement until being handed Tribunal recommendations.

To pre-empt the Waitangi Tribunal by suggesting – as John Key did – that National may ignore any recommendation, is high-handed arrogance. And it is a slap in the face to Maori, who place a measure of  faith in the British judicial system of fairness in justice.

After all, our justice system was introduced to this land, as was the concept of private ownership, and Maori have had to adapt to both concepts. This, they have done – and with far more success than generally Pakeha have adapted to Maori tikanga.

So for John Key to dismiss, out-of-hand, any decision from the Tribunal insults not just Maori, but our faith in systems of justice that apply to everyone in this country.

If Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples want to remain aligned with a political party, that is so derisory to the Waitangi Tribunal and normal concepts of fair play,  then they risk being tarred by association.

This blogger concurs with those who call for the Maori Party to disassociate itself from National. For their own mana,  and ultimate political survival, the Maori Party must ‘walk’. There is no possible long-term benefit to be gained  by continuing to associate with, and support, John Key’s administration.

But there is a lot of damage to be gained by maintaining their association with National.

Small parties are highly vulnerable to voter backlash. The history of The Alliance Party, United Future, ACT,  and NZ First should serve as a stark warning to Ms Turia and Mr Sharples.

It is time to walk, Ms Turia, Mr Sharples. For your own dignity, if nothing else.

3.

For the first time since the 2011 election, John Key has admitted that the first partial-privatisation – that of  Mighty River Power – may be delayed.

A combination of several protest marches; thousands of letters and emails sent to MPs and Ministers; letters-to-the-editors of newspapers; and ongoing public concerns have given John Key and his National cronies one, giant, non-stop, collective headache.

On a practical level, Dear Leader seemed to be prepared to “weather the storm of public anger”, and hunkered down to wait out the first asset sale. Their thinking is that once the first power company – Mighty River Power – is part-privatised, that the public clamour would die away, and subsequent asset sales would attract less and less protest.

However, the people of this country had one last card to play; the Treaty of Waitangi. Long ignored by pakeha; the favourite rant of  demented callers on talkback radio; and the dog-whistle-of-choice by right wing politicians looking to garner a few thousand extra votes, there’s nothing quite like mentioning “Maori” and “Treaty” to whip up a bit of racist hysteria. It’s practically a basic Law of the Perverse-Universe; “Maori” + “Treaty” =  Kneejerk Racist Response.

When the Maori Council announced on 9 July that the part-sale of SOEs would result in Maori lodging an application to the Waitangi Tribunal, the response was as followed;

1. The Thinking Man & Woman

Absolute delight and a sigh of relief.  Critics of privatisation finally had a powerful means by which National’s agenda might be stalled – perhaps even halted dead in it’s tracks.

For the first time, the Treaty of Waitangi would be a document protecting the rights of pakeha, as well as tangata whenua. This was something never foreseen by anyone – but when you think about it, has a perfect logic and symmetry to it.

2. The Unthinking Man & Woman

“Maori” + “Treaty” = Kneejerk Racist Response.

See:  It’s official: racists aren’t very bright

This blogger has tried to get into the minds of reactionary racists, to try to understand how their mental processes work. Without much success, unfortunately.  The closest I can come to, to understand the mind of a redneck is that they are extremely fearful. But of what, precisely, who knows. Perhaps they whisper to  each other that Maori are coming to steal their houses through the next Treaty claim, and put us all on boats back to Mother England? (Or Eastern Europe, for this  blogger.)

Unfortunately, the Unthinking Man & Woman appears to be incapable of understanding that the Maori Council’s tactics are for all our benefits; to slow down or halt the part-sales process.  Their minds are caught in some weird “neuron-loop” where all they can think of is Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty-Maori-Treaty… ad infinitum.

Even one person who took the effort to post comments on a previous blogpost  did not seem to understand. (See Mary’s comments here;   It’s official: racists aren’t very bright )

And see more comments here, on Fairfax’s website:   Harawira criticises Key over Maori water claim

No wonder Key is being stubborn on this issue; he is hoping to tap into a rich vein of racial prejudice, and to  boost his Party’s standing in the next political poll. Such a rise would be temporary, as happened when Don Brash gave his infamous “Orewa Speech” in January 2004.

3. John Key

John Key has been rattled by recent events. He may choose to dismiss public opinion polls; street marches; and other expressions of public discontent – but he cannot so easily dismiss a legal challenge.

Whilst Waitangi Tribunal decisions are not binding on governments – High Court rulings most certainly are. Even governments must obey laws and Court decisions,  irrespective of how ‘irksome’ such legal decisions may be.

To re-cap;

9 July:  Waitangi Tribunal hearing begins in Lower Hutt, after the Maori Council lodges an urgent  claim testing the rights of Maori over water.

John Key states, “The Government’s very firm view is that no-one owns water: we certainly don’t believe Maori own water; we don’t believe they own the airways, air or sea.

10 July:   On TVNZ’s “Breakfast“, John Key says, “We could choose to ignore what findings they might have – I’m not saying we would, but we could.”

10 July:   On TV3’s “Firstline“, Key says, “In the same way we don’t think anyone owns the sea and we don’t think anyone owns air.”

Unfortunately for Dear Leader, he may be engaging in a spot of wishful thinking, according to this comment made three days later;

13 July:  TV3: Crown lawyer, Paul Radich admits, “It’s accepted that Maori do have rights and interests in water.”

16 July:  “It was very matter of fact, I basically just said the Tribunal’s not binding on any government. ‘I actually said exactly the same words in front of the Treaty meeting house on Waitangi Day.”

16 July:  John Key states,  “You can’t rule that out.  It’s a matter that could be subject to court action. We certainly hope it’s not delayed. I think we should work on the principle that there is a high probability that we will be going to court. ”

Gotcha!!!

Despite all of Key’s bluster and highly provocative remarks – many offensive – he has publicly admitted for the first time,  that where public opinion and protest failed – Maori may succeed in halting National’s privatisation programme.

For the first time since 26 November 2011, there is now a distinct possibility that the privatisation agenda may be thwarted. It is a slim hope, but barring a sudden snap election, that is all we have to go on.

17 July:  Key stated, “Why wasn’t it tested in 1999 when Contact was sold. In my view it’s opportunistic.”

This was backed up by his Deputy PM, Bill English,  “The Maori Council doesn’t have any interest in any river, lake, spring or creek.  The Iwi Leadership Group and individual iwis are working constructively with the Crown.  They don’t represent any particular interest.”

Key and English seem to be going all-out to play hard-ball. Something has them ‘spooked’, and this blogger understands why, with  comments made by Dear Leader yesterday: this is heading to Court.

And still, the inflammatory rhetoric kept coming;

17 July:  John Key says,  “The Crown’s long held view is that it’s irrelevant whether there is a change of ownership structure in Mighty River Power, it has no bearing to any rights or interests in water that Mighty River Power currently has long term water rights for… There’s a chance a meteorite will hit the Earth this afternoon, but I don’t think it’s likely.”

Key seems to think that if he repeats this mantra over and over again, that Maori will “fall in line” and make it happen his way.  Dear Leader is dreaming in LaLaLand.  Maori are tough operators and have learned to use the Pakeha system to their advantage, to address Treaty breaches.

Only, this time, it will be to the entire nation’s advantage, if the Maori Council succeed. We may yet stop National from thieving our state assets.

Last point: As TV3 News reported today (17 July); up to 84,000 meteorites hit Earth each year. So Dear Leader John Key may yet be in for a surprise.

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Immovable and Irresistable forces – combined!!

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Full Story

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Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant result. And for the first time, we have publicly witnessed Iwi power being flexed on behalf of the working class.

This blogger believes  we are seeing the birth of a new political force to be reckoned with – Iwi and Workers joining forces to fight excessive corporate and employer power.

It probably also didn’t help Talleys that;

  • social networking websites such as Facebook were being utilised to mount a boycott of Talley’s products, and if this took hold in the public consciousness, it could cause irreparable harm to their brand-name
  • centre-left bloggers were mobilising to assist locked out workers, outnumbering the few rightwing blogs  that were becoming increasingly drowned out by a clamour of pro-union voices
  • and David Shearer making an impromptu visit to support Talley’s workers,

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Full Story

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In a move that many people seemed to overlook – but in this bloggers opinion constitutes a major shift in Labour’s strategy – Shearer actually came out in full, unequivocal support for the locked out workers,

I’m very supportive of collective agreements. I think the issue here is they [union workers] are willing to negotiate but now what’s happening is they are being locked out. What we don’t want to see is those workers being locked out and not being given a real fair go.

Talleys have always had a strong opposition to union labour. Other meatworks we’ve gone to which have had unions and they’ve worked very effectively.”

Them’s pretty powerful fightin’ words, Jethro!

In effect, Shearer has put certain elements in the employers’ camp on notice: Labour is back in the game, and firmly on the side of workers. The message is clear; do not mess with us, or we will remember you when we get back into power.

Any employer that doesn’t heed the simple message that Labour Leader, David Shearer, made at Horotiu – may have it spelled out in terms they will not miss.

The power balance is shifting. It may be part of the quantum shift away from the mad neoliberal  experiment that  overtook the world in the 1980s  onwards. Whether the signs are in the Occupy Movement; the election of centre-left governments; and mounting public protest at  austerity economics – we are witnessing  the beginnings of the decline of neo-liberalism.

Historical times, people; historical times.

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ACT – a step too far?

From David Farrar, of Kiwiblog

“…I tend to think it would be good to hear more from ACT on social liberalism, because their brand there has been unclear. No one doubts ACT’s commitment to economic liberalism, but they do wonder about the commitment to social liberalism.

Wouldn’t it be great I thought to hear Don Brash say something along the lines of “Yes we are going to get rid of the Maori seats, because race based seats are wrong – but we are also going to decriminalise personal use of cannabis, as our current drug laws unfairly penalise young Maori”. “

I would guess that business and other neo-liberals are now shying away from supporting ACT, lest they be associated with that party’s ‘brand’ which has evolved into something overtly racist and  anti-maori.

For many on the neo-liberal right, racist extremism is simply a step too far.

I am reminded of the Alliance in the mid-1990s, when it expelled the “Permanent Revolution” faction. Evidently this minority were creating a considerable nuisance with their hardline marxist-leninist agitation and the Alliance leadership did not want to be distracted with an extremist  canker within it’s ranks.

Unfortunately, in ACT’s case (or fortunately, depending on one’s p.o.v.), the lunatics have well and truly taken control of the asylum.

No wonder Heather Roy jumped waka. She knew what was coming.

As for ACT’s declared position of abolishing Maori seats – let’s be under no illusion, here.

The right want to get rid of Maori seats because they can’t win them. If they were safe-National or safe-ACT seats, then Farrar and his right-wing colleagues would be lining up to defend Maori seats.

Much like MMP, really. The right don’t like MMP because it doesn’t give them unbridled power.

The right simply don’t like to share.

It really is that simple.

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More on ACT’s racist culture;

Brash backed canned Act ad