Equality, fairness and comradeship? Group spends $1000s to undermine the place of Maori and the Tiriti o Waitangi

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Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 12.45.58 PM(Otago Daily Times, Dunedin by Civis 22 Jun 2013) IN recent weeks, Civis has noticed, in passing, large advertisements in the Otago Daily Times headed by a picture of a kiwi standing within a gin trap labelled “A new race-based constitution”, and the words “New Zealand, are we about to be crippled permanently?”.

Last Sunday, kept indoors by rain, Civis read the text below the heading, and found that the advertisement is for an entity called “The Independent Constitutional Review” and was authorised by the “New Zealand Centre for Political Research”.

A glance at the websites of these organisations show that the first was established by the second, and both are headed by Muriel Newman, sometime Act New Zealand MP (though both sites omit ungratefully, given that she reached the House of Representatives via the Act party list to note her party affiliation).

The ICR has been set up to oppose the Constitutional Review which the National-led Government established as part of its agreement with the Maori Party, though its supporters rhetoric sometimes wanders off message into climate-change denial unsurprising, perhaps, in view of the Act partys attitude to global warming.

The advertisement invites us to endorse their “Declaration of Equality”, which begins with a preamble “We, New Zealanders of all backgrounds, having founded and developed our society in equality, fairness, and comradeship, oppose any laws which establish or promote racial distinction or division. There shall be one law for all.”

It goes on to enunciate, under five bullet-points, what seems to be its main principle:

We reject any reference to the Treaty of Waitangi or its principles in any constitutional document”

It goes on to demand removal of references to the Treaty from existing legislation, and abolition of the Maori parliamentary and local body seats, and of the Waitangi Tribunal. So, while purporting to be rejecting constitutional review, and claiming that New Zealand has, at present, “one of the strongest parliamentary democracies in the world” (praising the “flexibility” derived from having no written constitution and no effective review of the decisions of our House of Representatives), the ICR itself proposes significant constitutional change.

Disregarding that apparent inconsistency, it is worth thinking about the accuracy and logic of the ICRs statements. To begin at the beginning, does the ICR really believe that our society was founded and developed in “equality, fairness and comradeship”?

In relation to its founding, our society derived from the disorderly settlement of Europeans among Maori iwi at various places in New Zealand, including Kororareka (now Russell) a community which became infamous for prostitution and lawlessness, and was described as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific” where William Hobson read his Proclamations, before moving across the bay to Waitangi for the Treaty negotiations and initial signings.

And although our constitutional foundation was indeed based on giving equality of access of all citizens to the “Rights and Privileges ofBritish Subjects”, that equality was dependent on Te Tiriti, as was the ceding of “kawanatanga” (though not rangitiratanga) to the Crown.

[sws_yellow_box box_size=”615″]If you don’t want theirs to be the only voice heard, tell the REAL Constitution Advisory Panel what you think! Make your official submission to www.ourconstitution.org.nz.[/sws_yellow_box]

But the good intentions of the Colonial Office, the Church Missionary Society, many missionaries, and some individual settlers, were subverted by settler disregard for the tangata whenuas intrinsic right, endorsed by the Te Tiriti, to retain “full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same”. Forcible settler acquisition of land, confiscations following resistance to such unwanted land transfers, and failure to observe the conditions of official land sales, make laughable the suggestion that our society developed in a golden glow of “fairness and comradeship”. The ICRs preamble in their Declaration is nonsense.

The ICRs rejection of reference to Te Tiriti in any constitutional document is presumably based on its belief that “democracy should be based on citizenship, not ethnicity all citizens should be treated equally, with equal rights and opportunities”, whereas Article 2 of Te Tiriti guarantees Maori their possessions, and restricts the sale of Maori land.

It is odd to see Act ideologues, to whom private property and contracts are supposedly sacrosanct, rejecting a contract entered into freely by Crown and most iwi, because it has particular provisions based on ownership and authority at the time of the agreement Irrespective of ICRs wishes, Te Tiriti is New Zealands founding and perpetual contract which, in return for iwi ceding kawanatanga and exclusive land purchase rights, does make special long term guarantees, not given to Pakeha, to Maori. A Constitution/Te Pouhere which disregarded Te Tiriti would be dishonest.

5 COMMENTS

  1. One law for all? When did we ever have that? Both law, constitution, and politics is about power, self interest, and the grouping of Kiwi tribes of all colours, religions and groupings into mainly common economic interests. Iwi is no different except that so far we are still behind. I suspect that Ms Newman and her Act cohorts want to position themselves in terms of power at the top of the economic ladder. Since when did such people believe in “one law for all” or equality under the law, and its ideological bedfellows of rampart capitalism.

  2. He Whakaputanga 0 1835 is a Legal Constituded Declared signed and Gazetted into The United Kingdom not this fake lot called National Govt.

    Sec 26 of the 1986 Constitution was set up to eliminate previous constitutions, but was announced Null and Void. We will send in our proof of documents to wipe any new ones this Govt makes up.

    Cannot do a new one without Her Majesty the Queen of England and or State Secretary Representative signed by her if not, all Constitutions here in Aotearoa are, Null and Void..kia Kaha whaanui they want to wipe all Mana Whenua Authority out..No Partnership, No Authority, no Consent to them taking our assets and Taonga and no say for representing our Mokopubna’s future..

    • Well said Paree. The Declaration 1835 Still stands and is acknowledged the world over and cannot be superceded even by the subsequent TOW 1840 which was created by the Jewish led Vatican/Westminster Banking Cartel out of London City and provoked not invoked let alone asked for by their greedy agents on the ground here at that time.

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