Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Barrie Saunders on democratic integrity

My old friend and long-ago colleague Barrie Saunders has written a thoughtful and perceptive column on the Treaty in which he raises important concerns about transparency and democratic process.

I'm more troubled than Barrie by Maori council wards, for the reason that they are qualitatively different from, say, geographically based (general) wards. The latter are created for reasons of administrative efficiency and to ensure fair representation, whereas the former are based purely on race, which introduces a wholly new - and I believe insidious - element to local government. But Barrie's blog post is a useful contribution to the debate and deserves to be widely read.



Andy Espersen said...

How right you are, Karl. Barrie Saunders’ article is precisely the sort of opinion that should be published in all our news media – and would be if our media weren’t biased and woke. Balanced, scrupulously objective historically - and oozing common sense and realism. Thank you for using your blog to publish it.

Two sentences from his article stick in my memory : “Regardless of blood, all descendants of Maori legally are deemed to be Maori, regardless of skin colour” – and “Its (sic) democracy or partnership – we cannot have both”. How I wish we New Zealanders could sit down, calmly discussing and debating these opinions openly, intelligently and soberly - being prepared to moderate our views.

Yeah right – can pigs ever fly?

David McLoughlin said...

The Matike Mai document referenced in Barrie's article is here:


It was was driven and co-authored by Margaret Mutu.

But there has been a very major document since then -- He Puapua -- drafted by a committee overseen by TPK in response to the Government's accession to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It sets out proposed constitutional changes to 2040.

He Puapua was completed in 2019 and not "made public" till October last year. I do not believe there has been any publicity about it at all. The first I knew it existed was when Nanaia Mahuta sent it to me last month when I asked her what is being done to further the accession to the UN Declration.

I understand it is too "hot" for the Government to know what to do with it. It is now with Willie Jackson as Minister of Maori Development


Odysseus said...

The "partnership" model is a deliberate misrepresentation of the judgement by Lord Cooke of the Court of Appeal when the Court ruled on the meaning of the "principles of the Treaty". He said the Crown had a fiduciary duty towards Maori, "akin to a partnership". He used the concept as a simile, he did not/not assert a partnership as such existed.

But that cat is now well and truly out of the bag. Today Wellington City Council congratulated itself on establishing a Maori ward for the next elections, by a margin of twelve bien pensants to three people who had conceivably thought about the matter in more depth and were not afraid to take a stand. Like you Karl I consider the idea of race-based representation insidious and not at all desirable, and I have made my reasons for taking this view known to Councillors.

New Zealanders will eventually wake up to the fact, probably when it is too late, that tribalism and democracy do not mix. They will find their rights and status as individuals diminished in the face of a largely hereditary group acting as a civil power who are unaccountable to anyone but their own members. Perhaps the COVID tribal roadblocks can been seen as a harbinger of this?

As a footnote, one of the historical oddities of this transformation has been the significant role played by Cuba in helping set the Maori sovereignty agenda in the 1970s and in authoring the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which John Key so fecklessly allowed the Maori Party to sign for New Zealand without any public debate and under a virtual news blackout before the event.

Graham Adams said...

Excellent article. Thanks for directing my attention to it.
I imagine many of those pushing the "partnership model" would be surprised to discover who made the following statement: "The Court of Appeal once, absurdly, described [the Treaty] as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The signatories are, on one side, a distinctive group of people, and on the other, a government which established itself in New Zealand and whose successors represent all of us, whether we are descendants of the signatories or not."
It was of course David Lange in the 2000 Bruce Jesson lecture.