It takes a lot to get middle New Zealand riled up enough to protest, but the Groundswell movement has tapped into discontent with the Government over a raft of issues. The organisers were blown away by the overwhelming support they received for their ‘Howl of Protest’ action, and very pleased by the reportedly unprecedented turnouts in 55 towns and cities across the country - it is estimated 30-40 thousand people, with their tractors, utes, and dogs, hit the streets nationwide. This is no mean feat - congratulations to all involved!
One issue causing concern involves recommendations in the He Puapua report. Despite protestations from Prime Minister Ardern that it is not government policy, there is mounting evidence that plans are being enacted to progressively implement the recommendations, which includes ‘breaking’ our constitutional arrangements to replace democracy with an inequitable constitution, giving a group of citizens claiming to represent the 16.7 percent of the population with Māori heritage 50 percent of the decision-making power – or more in some cases. We are seeing this in the Education, Health, and the Three Waters reforms, and in Te Mana o te Taiao - the Government’s proposed strategy on indigenous biodiversity. This strategy document would require people at all levels - central and local government, industry, non-government organisations, scientists, landowners, communities, and individuals - to partner with whānau, hapū, iwi. This applies to all land - including private land - as well as all freshwater, estuaries and wetlands, and the marine environment from the coastline to the outer edges of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the extended continental shelf.
Author John Robinson has recently published a book clarifying the threat to the rights and liberties of all ‘other’ New Zealanders posed by He Puapua, He Puapua – Blueprint for Breaking up New Zealand. This book explains the full implications of implementing the recommendations in the report. I have not read it yet but am looking forward to finding out what John has to say. Copies can be ordered from Tross Publishing
Other recommended reading on this issue includes the paper by Elizabeth Rata, ‘The Road to He Puapua – Is there really a Treaty partnership?’, in which Elizabeth examines the concept of a Treaty of Waitangi partnership and describes the path to the policy of now including the Treaty principles in most legislation.
Last call! Two deadlines looming.
This week sees at least two deadlines for having your say on government policy.
- Public feedback on the preliminary draft of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act, (as partial replacement of the RMA), closes in 2 days’ time - at 11:59pm on Wednesday 4th August. Proposals include a plan to amalgamate each council’s district plan into less than 20 regional plans run by government-appointed planning committees. And in a move very likely to be at odds with the aim of reducing the time and cost taken to consent projects, it is proposed that the new law will "give effect" to the Treaty of Waitangi (previously "have regard to"). Finding out what “give effect” to the Treaty means will keep lawyers in clover for years. See the article below for more information, and where to make a submission.
- Another fast-approaching deadline is the opportunity to have a say on the so-called ‘Hate Speech’ discussion document, which will be considered for the yet-to-be drafted Bill. Please read more on this issue below. Submissions close Friday 6th August. (The theory is that there is a greater likelihood the public can influence policy at the discussion document stage than making a submission on a Bill. So, if you share our concerns, please give it a go!).
This month’s newsletter also includes an update on the proposed Three Waters Water Services delivery programme, with a suggestion to contact your local council to express your opinion. As the Mayor of Westland District Council explains in two explanatory video recordings, The Three Waters Journey and Three waters update: “the case for change has not been proven.”
In the wake of the removal of the poll provision on Māori wards, more changes are also in the pipeline for local government – please see the article below for info on the Government’s next steps. And, as many councils are currently undertaking representation reviews, we suggest you visit your council website to see if your council is one of them. If so, please consider having a say on any proposed options.
Lastly, a big thank you to those who volunteered to deliver flyers to publicise the petition to return New Zealand to a true democracy - blisters and all! And a reminder to those who have not yet added your name that it closes on Sunday 8th August. It is available by clicking HERE.To keep up to date with democracy issues facing New Zealand, please remember to regularly check-out the Democracy Action Facebook page, where we post opinion pieces and new items as they come to hand.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. If you have any suggestions you would like to offer, or if you need further information or help, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
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