< June 2023 newsletter


Proponents of the campaign to embed separate race-based systems at all levels of government in New Zealand  - whereby tangata whenua govern themselves and the Crown govern the others - as suggested in the Matike Mai and He Puapua reports - came one step closer to realising their goal by having the Crown entity The NZ Human Rights Commission state that it is proud to publish a report which makes the preposterous claim that that the elimination of racism will not occur without promoting race-based constitutional change and co-governance with Māori. 

The Tangata Whenua Caucus of the National Anti-Racism Taskforce (2021-2022) and Ahi Kaa, the Indigenous Rights Group within the Human Rights Commission, worked together on the development of a report intended to inform the Commission, the Ministry of Justice, and the New Zealand government on the matter of racism from a tangata whenua perspective. This group came up with the provocative name of Maranga Mai! for its report - which means Rise Up! 

Maranga Mai! The dynamics and impacts of white supremacy, racism, and colonisation on tangata whenua in Aotearoa New Zealand, a racist rant which the Human Rights Commissioner praises as remarkably constructive and hopeful, outlines a litany of suffering allegedly because of white supremacy, racism, and colonisation, leading “the authors [to] believe the elimination of racism will not occur without constitutional transformation and co-governance with Māori.” (p.25). They urge the government to commit to what they say is this much needed change.

According to the Report, “the vision of tangata whenua [Māori] is one where they have the rights, freedoms and rangatiratanga [authority] as exercised by their tīpuna [ancestors] at the time Te Tiriti o Waitangi [the Treaty of Waitangi] was signed. This is an Aotearoa where tangata whenua [Māori] govern themselves and the Crown govern tangata tiriti [everyone else].

The Report continues: “Rangatiratanga [Māori] and kāwanatanga [the Crown] would exercise mana [status/power] and authority within their spheres of influence, with a joint space for debating matters of mutual concern.” (p. 107).

This concept is illustrated by two independent governments/parliaments, one for Māori (rangatiratanga sphere) and one for everyone else (kāwanatanga sphere), with a ‘relational sphere’ where the parties will work together in partnership (p. 100).

However, the report writers do not envisage this radical new constitutional arrangement will be enough to eliminate racism in New Zealand on its own. It goes on to say that: “The principles of reconciliation would underpin this vision, and be articulated through an anti-racist agenda, and direct action in response to racism and white supremacy.” (p. 107)

It explains direct action as: “We try and influence the political system, and if that doesn’t work, then [our recourse is to] direct action – which has been a key form of resistance and tino rangatiratanga. Parliament is a Pākehā institution. There is a lack of implementation of Te Tiriti in the law, and when those laws fail us, those institutions of white supremacy, then our last hope is to band together and jump on this platform and try to resist.” (p. 104).

Besides informing and guiding the Commission, the Ministry of Justice, and the New Zealand government on the proposed National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR), this report is also for the consideration of politicians, central and local government, public sector officials and policy makers, when making or reviewing current legislation, policy or services which impact on Māori or affect their interests.

Main contributors to Maranga Mai! include former deputy chief executive and Māori advisor at the HRC, Tricia Keelan, and leading Māori sovereignty activists - Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Tina Ngata, Hilda Halkyard-Harawira, Dr Rawiri Taonui, Kingi Snelgar, and the late Dr Moana Jackson. The report was reviewed for publication (read, given the go ahead) by the Pou Tikanga of the National Iwi Chairs Forum – Professor Margaret Mutu.

Where does the National Iwi Chairs Forum fit into the picture? 

The Iwi Chairs Forum is working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice in the development of the proposed action plan against racism. Additionally, as we pointed out in Human Rights Commission partners with Iwi Chairs’ Forum, (DA news April 2023), the Human Rights Commission also has a very close relationship the Forum. Undoubtedly, a case of co-governance in action!

Main recommendations of Maranga Mai! 

  1. The principal recommendation of Maranga Mai! tasks the government with committing to constitutional transformation and establishing co-governance as recommended and articulated by the Matike Mai Aotearoa and He Puapua reports. 
  2. A ‘Truth, Reconciliation and Justice Commission’ be established for a three-year period. The report states that this commission would hear and document tangata whenua's experience of colonisation, racism and white supremacy and recommend meaningful pathways towards reconciliation and justice by 2040. This is to be a separate process from the Waitangi Tribunal, which is primarily concerned with claims bought by Māori in relation to breaches of Te Tiriti. 
  3. Establish an independent body or bodies to develop and deliver constitutional transformation within Tiriti processes and with tino rangatiratanga partners.
  4. That the government urgently appoint a full time, permanent, Indigenous Rights Commissioner to strengthen indigenous and human rights.

The report also includes a list of ‘secondary’ recommendations, aimed at supporting the achievement of constitutional transformation. These include embedding Te Tiriti into central and local government systems and processes, a review of the Treaty Settlements policy, and the reform of central and local government legislation and policies to return ‘dispossessed land’ to iwi, hapū and whānau, and improve access and use of Māori whenua. The report recommends:

  • Strengthening the Human Rights Act 1993 to better protect Māori and Indigenous rights and give full effect to Te Tiriti. Amendments to the Act are needed to reflect a co-governance arrangement for the Human Rights Commission, and to include definitions of racism, institutional racism, and white supremacy. (p. 104)
  • Support the Human Rights Commission to become Tiriti-based and hold a stronger mandate to uphold Te Tiriti, Māori human and Indigenous rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to eliminate and report authentically and fully on racism.
  • Reform central and local government legislation, systems, and policies to include recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to eliminate racism, (p. 104).
  • Review and reform central and local government legislation and policies to return dispossessed land to iwi, hapū and whānau and improve the way that whenua Māori owners can access, develop, and live on their land.
  • Review the unilaterally forced “full and final” Treaty Settlements policy as inflicting continuing injustice on tangata whenua Māori.
  • A comprehensive review of the justice system to abolish prisons by 2040, reviewing criminal legislation to align with Te Tiriti and te ao Māori values and tikanga. 
  • Establishing a Mana Ōrite justice partnership to share governance and decision-making at all levels of the justice sector and embedding kaupapa Māori approaches across the court system.
  • To establish a stand-alone Māori Education Authority to undertake a Tiriti-based legislative and policy review of education to strengthen tino rangatiratanga and enable tangata whenua to regain mana motuhake [self-governance] over the education of Māori education systems and ākonga [students].

The Human Rights Commission is not supposed to be a political battleground

The role of the Human Rights Commission is to uphold and protect human rights, promoting equality, justice, and dignity for all individuals. One of its primary functions under the Human Rights Act 1993 is to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society. Its role does not include promoting the ideological and political transformation of our nation, nor the fostering of racial hostility. Yet, this is exactly what the Commission is doing as it promotes Maranga Mai! with its radical recommendations that would result in the undermining of the sovereignty of the NZ people, the dismantling of democratic governance, and the establishment of a governance model whereby citizens would be awarded participation rights based on race.

As Peter Winsley* writes in his blogpost The Human Rights Commission needs to do its job and stay out of politics

“History shows that race-based societies fail. No tribally based society has ever succeeded in the modern world. And yet New Zealand is rapidly racializing and tribalizing its system of central and local government and other institutions. 
It is time for the HRC to return to its core statutory obligations.”

*Peter has worked in policy and economics-related fields in New Zealand for many years.


Push back against the recommendations of Maranga Mai! Write to:

Remind them of their duty to uphold the rights of all New Zealanders equally, as outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which New Zealand committed to upholding. Article 21 states:

 The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” 

Further reading 

Peter Winsley: The Human Rights Commission needs to do its job and stay out of politics


Media coverage

RNZ: Reports highlighting racism and colonial legacy call for structural changes
Newsroom: Reports on racism raise challenges in election year

Go back to the June 2023 newsletter


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