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June 2020

Welcome to the June 2020 edition of the Democracy Action newsletter. We hope you, your family and friends all survived the Covid-19 lockdown in good health, and are not suffering the ill-effects of the economic fallout - as sadly many, many people are.

With life returning to some sort of normality in New Zealand, at least for some of us, its time to get back into it. The Democracy Action working group held its regular meeting on Monday 8th June - it being the first chance after lockdown for members to discuss key issues face-to-face, and assign tasks in response to evolving issues.

At the meeting there was much discussion relating to the Government's message of unity to fight the pandemic, while at the same time promoting division and undermining equal rights upon which our democracy is based.

Throughout the lockdown the country watched as the Police condoned and supported the unauthorised and illegal roadblocks springing up around the country. Wanting to protect whānau and communities is an admirable intention, but those who are ‘woke’ to such shenanigans saw another side – as a means to promote undemocratic authority over what iwi claim as their rohe (territory), and in doing so, test the resolve of the Government. This is borne out in an opinion piece by Paul Hunt and Meng Foon of the Indigenous Human Rights Commission, who praised the roadblocks as a demonstration of rangatiratanga, saying “the authority to manage traditional territories, the right of self-determination for Māori so they can make decisions for themselves in their lands”. It is a model the Human Rights Commission would like to see replicated.

We at Democracy Action are calling for a judicial review into the failure by the Police to uphold the law without fear or favour, instead choosing which citizens must abide by the law, and which can undertake unlawful activities not only with impunity, but with their help.

The support of iwi roadblocks by government agencies is a very public example of the policy changes undertaken by the Government to advance the Treaty partnership agenda. (You can read more about this issue in the following article ‘This is how the Treaty partnership works in practise, folks’). Another, less visible example is the presence of legal experts working specifically for Māori on the teams drafting legislation, such as the Fast Track Covid-19 RMA Bill.

"And they’re not just conservative lawyers. We've got some of our more progressive lawyers like Dayle Takitimu and others keeping an eye on what the Government is up to and contributing to the formation of those laws. It's a struggle because I don't think the government legal teams are used to having Māoris come in the door and sit down with them to watch over their shoulders to say 'that's not right, it's incorrect what you're doing, what you should be doing is this,'" boasts Mike Smith, a member of the Iwi Leaders Group’s pandemic response group. See Maori lawyers cast eyes over RMA changes

Examples such as these point to an apartheid system whereby iwi have political influence and a degree of autonomy that other NZers don’t have.

Rather than unity, the government - including local bodies - are actively fostering division. Please read on for further examples, and suggestions on how you can help.

Thank you to all who made submissions on the Education and Training Bill – and a special thanks to those who made oral submissions to the Select Committee. The committee has now released their report. You can read it HERE.

Please feel free to share the information in this newsletter with your friends, family and other contacts. Also, please direct to our website anyone who may be interested in the issues we cover and would like to be added to our mailing list. Visit: https://www.democracyaction.org.nz/about

The link to the Democracy Action Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/DemocracyAction/

If you would like to become involved in the working group, please email me at: [email protected] 

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]

And please help spread the message by sharing our newsletters with anyone who may be interested. You can receive further updates by registering or joining us.

Kind regards,

Susan Short

[email protected]

Preferential treatment for iwi under proposed Fast Track Consenting Bill

We are asking for your help to fight against legislation currently being drafted by the Government which clearly discriminates in favour of iwi, while the rest of us would effectively be marginalized. The issue is urgent - the Government plans to push this legislation through by late June - under urgency and with minimal public input under the pretext of COVID-19. Continue reading

Partnership trumps good governance - the Taupō water monitoring deal

The Waikato Regional Council is planning to outsource the monitoring of the waters in and around Lake Taupo and its tributaries to the Tūwharetoa Maori Trust Board. This is despite the Council having identified the risk that it may be expected to undertake similar agreements with other iwi authorities or local authorities that may result in not being able to deliver on expectations due to competing priorities.   Continue reading

Labour boasts of roadblock partnership

Two Labour Members of Parliament have confirmed the claim by Democracy Action that the Government and Police condoned the illegal iwi roadblocks on public roads. Tamati Coffey (Labour - Waiariki) and Kiri Allan (Labour – List MP living in the East Coast) have stated that these roadblocks were “well supported” by the Government and that police “helped with the checkpoints”. Continue reading

Iwi checkpoints “show the way” for Treaty partnership

Meng Foon and Paul Hunt of the Human Rights Commission use the illegal roadblocks as an admirable illustration of the Treaty of Waitangi 'partnership' principle. It is a model they would like to see replicated. “The two treaty partners collaborated – with kāwanatanga, or governorship, represented through local councils, Civil Defence and the Police, and rangatiratanga, the authority of chiefs, upheld by hapū and iwi”.  “This relationship between rangatiratanga and kāwanatanga is ready to be used across all aspects of government during the recovery programme. The time has come,” they write. Continue reading

Royal Commission needs to investigate illegal roadblocks

Democracy Action fully supports recent calls for a Royal Commission into the COVID-19 response, and strongly suggests its remit includes an expert examination of the legality, or more likely illegality, of iwi roadblocks. Euphemistically called ‘community checkpoints’, these roadblocks purported to protect isolated communities from the pandemic but were inconsistent with legal instructions to the general public. Continue reading

This is how the Treaty partnership works in practise, folks

The partnership interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi is manifesting in a myriad of ways. The recent unlawful closure of the road to the North Cape by Ngati Kuri, with the collaboration of government agencies including the Department of Conservation, the NZ Police and the NZ Transport Agency, is but another example. Continue reading

Official complaint about discriminatory health policy by DHB

Please see below a letter to Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner, about Capital and Coast and the Hutt Valley District Health Boards' decisions to move Maori and Pacific patients to the front of their elective surgery waiting list. Since the letter was sent reports have emerged that eight other DHBs have introduced or are looking to introduce this clearly discriminatory policy. Three more refused to rule it out. This is a deeply concerning trend and needs to be stopped. Continue reading