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.
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