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July 2021

Reading the Government's press release ‘Social Cohesion Programme To Address Incitement Of Hatred And Discrimination’, which heralds the proposed changes to the so-called ‘hate speech’ legislation, I thought we must be in Wonderland, having joined Alice in falling through the rabbit hole into a fantasy world. Our country is increasingly awash with policies that entrench racial separatism, promoting division and discord, and undermining democracy - and yet this Government speaks of social cohesion! Is there not at least an inkling within government of how hypocritical this is?

The Government is forging ahead with policies that are destroying the unity of our nation by setting one group of citizens above others. It appears no opportunity is lost to establish arrangements whereby representatives of just 17% of the population share equal power with representatives of the other 83 percent. Currently we see this in education and health reforms, and in Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s water reforms, which would mean mana whenua have equal rights alongside councils in governing water assets. Please see below for an update on the Three Waters Reform Programme, which is shaping up to be another Trojan horse for constitutional change.

The social cohesion of the country is also being threatened by other race-based entitlements not available to other New Zealanders. One such example of this is promoted in the Government's strategy to revitalise the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. This plan allows for iwi to have a greater say and greater rights than other citizens. Instead of all of us working together to restore the Gulf, the proposed 11 high protection areas will allow ‘customary take’ rights exclusive to iwi, and at their discretion. Another element of the policy includes plans for 50/50 co-governance arrangements with tangata whenua, which in practice means iwi control - we need only to look at the actions of the Tupuna Maunga Authority (TMA), a co-governance arrangement over Auckland’s maunga, to know that this would be the case. The TMA have made it clear that cultural restoration takes precedence over ecological restoration. Taking the Government’s strategy document into account, it appears the same principle will be applied in the Marine Park.

In another shock decision, despite the far-reaching implications of tikanga taking precedence over the common law, the Government has decided not to appeal the recent ruling made under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act, granting customary marine title and protected customary rights to several Bay of Plenty hapū. Instead they will act as an intervenor. Appealing this decision has been left to private groups. See more about this in the article below.

Such decisions and policies are evidence we are well along the path towards a nation divided on racial lines. As Professor Elizabeth Rata at University of Auckland explains in her commentary published at the Democracy Project

 Ethno-Nationalism or Democratic-Nationalism: Which way ahead for New Zealand?

“The acceptance of ancestral membership as a political category, rather than a social identity, has huge implications for national cohesion and democratic government”.

Elizabeth writes that with sudden emergence of the revolutionary report He Puapua, it is clear New Zealanders are at a crossroads. She urges us all to read the report then freely and openly discuss what type of nation do we want - whether we want our future to be that of an ethno-nationalist state or a democratic-nationalist one.

Even the way the government is dealing with UNDRIP and the He Puapua report is divisive. Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson announced this week that the first round of consultation is to be confined to iwi and Māori organisations over the next six months, before the wider public can have their say. He added that although He Puapua is not government policy, the recommendations could be, and that the Government is not ruling anything out. Jackson says that the findings of both phases will help form the Government’s plan to honour UNDRIP, which will be ready by the end of 2022.

But let’s not wait to be asked. Labour commands a strong majority in Parliament, so whatever the government decides to do cannot be stopped – except by the strength of expressions of public opposition. Therefore, it is very important that we all speak out - and continually do so. It is only when there is a groundswell of opposing voices that the politicians and the establishment will start to listen. Consequently, we urge you to contact your MPs - phone their local office, and/or email them. Phone Parliament - 04 817 9999 - and ask to be put through to the MP or leader to whom you wish to make your views known. Send letters to editors, call talkback radio, discuss the issues with friends and family. Please take every opportunity to do so.

A big thank you to those who are already taking action - like those who have volunteered to deliver flyers publicising a petition to restore our democratic rights - Return New Zealand [Nu Tirani] to a true democracy. This petition has been organised by a group of citizens incensed by the Government’s draconian fast-tracked legislation to abolish the right for New Zealanders to petition for a referendum on Maori wards. The petition closes on 8 August. If you would also like to help, please let me know at: [email protected]

Other ways to have your say:

Local Government representation

At least once every six years Councils are required to undertake a review of the current representation, and many councils are currently doing so. This is a chance for the community to put forward suggestions on how they want wards, community boards and elected members arranged. Please visit your local council website for directions on how to have your say.

Proposals to alter NZ’s hate speech law

The government is seeking feedback on the recently released discussion document. For a persuasive argument against the Government’s proposed legislation see the Chris Trotter commentary: I understand why you want to do it, Jacinda – but don’t. Submissions close on August 6.

The NCEA curriculum changes

As part of the NCEA Change Programme the Ministry of Education is proposing changes to the New Zealand Curriculum subjects available in schools. You have a chance to have a say on the NCEA curriculum levels 2 & 3 until August 11. See article below for more information.

Thank you to all who made submissions on the draft NZ histories curriculum. We have repeatedly asked the Ministry of Education if the submissions can be viewed online, but so far without success. We will keep trying.

Another place name change

It is becoming increasingly obvious there is a determined campaign under way to replace Pākeha place names with Māori names, including that of our major cities. In many cases this is being done without reference to the public. In some areas there may be a good argument and even public support for doing so, but let us follow democratic process rather than having change imposed through indoctrination. One of our members has brought to our attention the proposal to alter the official place name Maxwell, a township on the outskirts of Whanganui, to Pākaraka. If you would like to voice your opinion on this name change, you can make a submission by clicking HERE. August 30 is the final day to have your say. 

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 democracyac[email protected]

Kind regards,

Susan Short
Secretary
[email protected]

Three Waters Reform – further constitutional change by stealth

In another step in what the Government terms ‘partnership-based reform’ Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta last week released further information on plans to move the ownership and management of water infrastructure from local councils into the hands of four multi-regional water service entities across New Zealand. This information includes the proposed boundaries of the four water providers, and further details on the proposed water services entities - including governance arrangements, how they would be regulated, and the role of iwi. Nanaia Mahuta stated: “The Government will continue to work with the sector, iwi and industry on some of the details to give these transformational reforms the best chance of success. We will be making further announcements in the coming weeks, including a three waters reform support package for councils and their communities’’. Continue reading

Crown not appealing foreshore and seabed decision

The decision last month by Justice Peter Churchman is the first major case under the foreshore and seabed legislation, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, which replaced Labour's foreshore and seabed law. The decision awarded customary title in three parts of Eastern Bay of Plenty to six hapū of Whakatohea.  Justice Churchman’s decision elevated the status of Maori “tikanga” above the common law tests in the Marine and Coastal Area Act. This means that unless the judgement is overturned, it is likely to have a significant impact not only on the claims process, but on New Zealand’s legal system as well. If this judgement is allowed to stand, it is likely that hundreds of claims for customary marine title – involving most if not all the coastline – will succeed. The Crown considered lodging an appeal against this decision, but has decided not to. Instead, the Attorney-General has applied to appear as an intervenor to assist the court. Any expectation that the government would act in the interests of the rest of New Zealand have been dashed.  Lodging an appeal has been left up to a self-funded private group to act in the public interest. Continue reading

‘Māori-Crown Partnership’ features strongly in revamp of education system

During 2018 the Government announced a three-year work programme to bring about significant changes to New Zealand’s education system, from preschool to university. The reforms include a complete overhaul of the Ministry of Education, a review of Tomorrow’s Schools, and NCEA, and a programme of change for vocational education.  Continue reading