Ardern’s view of Maori independence, or separate government, is not new at all. The ink was scarcely dry on the Treaty when Maori chiefs challenged British sovereignty. Little good it did them because they were captured in the first article of the treaty.
“The chiefs of the Confederation and all the chiefs who have not joined that Confederation give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government over their land.”First Article of the Treaty of Waitangi (Maori translated into English)
A few years later a bunch of well-meaning settlers determined that a handful of influential Maori Chiefs should meet their English monarch and hopefully be sufficiently impressed to take home positive news that might draw recalcitrant chiefs into the fold.
“None but the chiefs of some note will be selected, as we append a list of those who have already signified their desire to be of the party. In order to benefit these chiefs, and, through them, their tribes, they will have afforded them every means of satisfying themselves on the points of England’s greatness and power, which, hitherto, to them has appeared to be “mere talk”.Article in the Nelson Examiner & NZ Chronicle 6 December 1862
It didn’t work, but it did inspire Maori chiefs to adopt the concept of a separate Maori monarchy. The perceived benefits were two-fold: resolve the divisive Maori tribal structure and unite tribes against the British. However, the Kingitanga movement established in 1858 achieved neither.
“In 1852 Tamihana Te Rauparaha, the son of the powerful Ngai Toa chief, met Queen Victoria in England. When he returned home, he sought to establish a monarchy for Maori.”TEARA
Today Maori dissidents have a new champion for Maori separatism: the highly ambitious, but dismally unproductive, Jacinda Ardern.
In the House this week, Judith Collins argued for retaining the existing government structure and requested a public debate on the matter. The Prime Minister expressed no desire for public involvement in a scheme she was already putting into practice.
Judith Collins quoted from former prime minister David Lange.
“Democratic government can accommodate Maori political aspiration in many ways, what it cannot do is acknowledge the existence of a separate sovereignty, as soon as it does it isn’t a democracy”.ODT
Jacinda Ardern responded with the argument that David Lange would support Maori separatism, saying, “I have no doubt that if David Lange had the ability to remark on what we are doing as a government, in the area of health reform for instance, he would applaud it. What the member characterises as separatism I characterise as partnership.”
Dead men cannot defend themselves, and although Lange, like many of us, would applaud efforts to lift Maori out of poverty and improve their health outcomes, it is a lie to insist he would be in favour of separate governance when he clearly stated that separatism came at the cost of democracy.
According to Prof AHM (Toon) van Meijl, (a Dutch cultural anthropologist with expertise in the Pacific region, particularly the New Zealand Maori), in his 1994 paper on the politics of the Treaty of Waitangi, Lange’s largesse toward Maori during the 1980s was stymied by economic reality.
“David Lange created the possibility for Maori tribes to seek redress for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, the judicial system of New Zealand was bombarded with a vast number of Maori land claims.
At the same time, however, following a rigorous monetary policy the New Zealand economy collapsed completely in the course of the 1980s and, as a result, it soon became abundantly clear that the country could never afford to settle even a minimum of Maori claims.
Consequently, Lange declared he had to “shift the goal posts” of the political game of reinterpreting the ever controversial Treaty’.”Paper on “Shifting the Goal Posts” by Toon van Meijl
Ardern is shifting the goal posts when she says inequality of Maori health outcomes means the current health system is tilted against Maori. Perhaps it is true but in theory Maori receive the same access to health benefits as everyone else. It certainly is true that some district health boards struggle to provide the same level of health services as, for instance, Auckland.
“It is just unacceptable, I would hope, for any member to stand by while we have a health system, or systems across the board, Mr Speaker, that lead to different outcomes for different people in NZ.
Our job as government is to make sure that we opportunity and the potential of all New Zealanders realised, and our current systems do not always achieve that.”Ardern’s response to Collins Question T1 in the House
Destroying democracy to create racial inequality is one of the most egregious ideas Ardern has come up with to date. Logically she is also arguing for the same unrealistic and unsupportable health governance for Pacific Islanders who also have below-average health outcomes.
Given that Ardern failed in her promise to remedy child poverty, build more housing, fund mental health or improve the ailing district health boards, it is reasonable to assume she will simply pour more money into another failed scheme.
Ardern cannot move forward on separatism without a public discussion. Implementing separatist Maori authorities by stealth is neither democratic nor honest.
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