In this week’s column, I crave your indulgence as you follow my convoluted thinking toward an agreeable alternative to the separatist plot being revealed in what we have been told so far, about this Labour Government’s He Puapua project.
I’m taking it for granted from responses I’ve seen on The BFD and on social media, that there is widespread unhappiness that Labour concealed this plan for such a drastic upheaval of the constitutional basis of governance of our country from us, and especially from its coalition partner, New Zealand First.
My concern is focused on what we’ve been told so far about the content of He Puapua and what it seeks to achieve.
So we start with the name itself: puapua – which my informative online Maori dictionary tells me has a number of meanings, the main one being “break (of waves)” leading me to wonder if this implies a break with past history and traditions? Another meaning is “vulva (the opening of a woman’s vagina)” leading me to wonder whether we want to signal to the world that we are making complete vaginas of ourselves?
Regardless of the plan writer’s motives, the title has the belittling pronunciation Hey Poor Poor (or even worse, Hey, Poo-er Poo-er). Surely, a project implying such monumental constitutional change could have had a title with more gravitas?
But what is it proposed to change from and why?
Our starting point must be that we are all citizens of a self-governing sovereign state: New Zealand. We are all indebted to the distinguished University of Auckland Professor Elizabeth Rata, who has explained this as follows:
Citizenship is the legal and political status that links each individual to the nation, and the state, and cannot be separated from them. It is impossible to have one without the other. Citizenship exists because citizens are citizens of something, that is, they derive legal status from the laws enacted by parliament (the site of the nation’s sovereign authority) and administered through state institutions. The political status of the citizen is derived from the status of New Zealand as a sovereign nation with authority over the citizens and its geographical area. Without the nation as the concept of a society’s sovereignty and the state as the organiser and administrator of that authority, the idea of citizenship is meaningless.blog.elizabethrata.com/2021/07/08/inclusive-biculturalism-exclusive-biculturalism-and-the-nation/
Prof Rata’s paper from which this extract is taken is well worth a read.
The same paper contains her explanation of “inclusive biculturalism” which exists in New Zealand today, and which, from what we have been told so far, is what the proponents of He Puapua want to convert to exclusive biculturalism by way of 50/50 co-governance between those of Maori descent on the one hand, and the rest of us on the other.
Biculturalism is complex, as Prof Rata explains in her article in respect of education:
The inherent contradictions in biculturalism that first led to the emergence of two very different strands of biculturalism point to more fundamental issues concerning New Zealand’s constitution as a liberal-democratic nation-state. Equal rights and status for New Zealanders comes from the development of the nation-state since 1852 and the subsequent granting of citizenship rights.
Despite the Graduating Teacher Standards claim that ‘(t)hese standards recognise that the Treaty of Waitangi extends equal status and rights to Maori and Pakeha alike’ (Teachers Council, 2007), political rights were not awarded by the Treaty of Waitangi – nor could they be, the treaty predates the nation-state.
That a major teacher organisation has confused the basis of citizenship is evidence of the confusion caused by conflicting political projects which underpin the two strands of biculturalism: liberal democracy on the one hand and ethno-nationalism on the other. The former awards political status on the basis on universalism, that is non-kin and non-racial criteria, the latter grants membership on the basis of historical identification, – kinship and racial belonging. Liberal democracy can accommodate inclusive biculturalism. An ethnic-based political system is unable to do so.
Then, these Labour wokesters currently inhabiting the Beehive’s Cabinet room try to scam us with claims that it is all based on the Treaty of Waitangi.
That unfounded and spurious claim has been blown out of the water by well known Nelson author/researcher Amy Brooke, writing in the Australian publication The Spectator about the immorality of Ardern’s $55 million payola of hush money to New Zealand news media:
Shockingly, the guidelines that establish eligibility for the millions of dollars available expressly invoke “actively promoting the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, acknowledging Maori as Te Tiriti partner”.
There it is in black and white, and any media wanting to question this completely inaccurate claim are hardly likely to retain their funding. The rules are the rules!
No legal or conceptual partnership was ever established by the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
It is in fact impossible for a democratic government to legally sign a treaty establishing a partnership with only one section of its people. While there are no longer any full-blooded Maoris, those opting to claim an often tenuous Maori genetic inheritance are represented in one report as 12.5 per cent of New Zealanders, not the 15-16 per cent claimed. Many, probably the majority, of part-Maori, prefer to be represented on the main electoral roll – well aware of the political machinations contrived by those seeking targeted economic advantages on the grounds of racial background – and unwilling to be part of this self-serving activism.
So where does that leave us?
In my view, it leaves all of us as citizens of the sovereign state of New Zealand, all deserving of the same rights and privileges regardless of our ancestry, in whole or in part, be it Polynesian, Micronesian, British Commonwealth, Continental European, Asian or wherever else. In particular, for those whose whakapapa traces back to the first Polynesian canoes whose seafaring occupants first colonised these islands, I am in accord with the words of the great Maori anthropologist, Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck) who wrote in his great book Vikings of the Sunrise at page 260:
“I am binomial, bilingual and inherit a mixture of two bloods that I would not change for a total of either”.
He placed as much value on his father having been born in Ireland, as he did on what he learned about his whakapapa from his maternal Maori grandmother after the early death of his mother.
So instead of the separatism into Maori and others as proposed in He Puapua, is there a single name by which we can identify ourselves as New Zealanders? Yes, there is, and it’s one already in universal use. It relates to those first Polynesian settlers who colonised our islands. When they arrived, they were surprised at the extent of the bird life, ranging from the mighty moa, too big to conceal itself from hunters and too well endowed with tasty meat to avoid extinction, down to a little, long-beaked, flightless bird, whose thin piping cry “kee wee” led to the settlers naming it kiwi. Shy, hiding its light under bushes, always trying not to draw attention to itself, the little bird showed many of the self-effacing characteristics that have come to distinguish its human fellow occupants of this land, whom the world has now capitalised as Kiwis.
This led to a search of the word kiwitanga which I was delighted to find in the Oxford Dictionary of New Zealandisms translated as “noun informal: New Zealand identity and culture.”
So there we have it, New Zealanders, from now on, we’re all Kiwis, whether we’re here by fortunate accident of birth or by choice as migrants. Let’s jettison He Puapua forthwith, and rejoice in our kiwitanga democratic freedom!
Tailpiece: With all the talk these days about “pollution”, whether by waste of plastics or foodstuffs, or whatever, or the nonsense about “carbon pollution” spouted by global warming alarmist science illiterates, what about turning our attention to the attempted pollution of our democracy and citizenship rights by the He Puapua separatists?
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