< December 2020 newsletter

The ‘partnership’ myth - the single biggest threat to our democracy

Progressing the Treaty ‘partnership’ agenda is a key priority for the Labour government. But by doing so they are introducing divisive policies that are undermining our democracy.


Contrary to the propaganda we are constantly being fed, the Treaty of Waitangi did not create a partnership between Māori and the Crown. There is no suggestion of a partnership in the text of the Treaty, nor in the speeches made by many chiefs at the time of the signing. Nor at the Kohimarama conference 20 years later. The so-called ‘partnership principle’ is a recent invention.

NZCPR guest writer, retired Judge Anthony Willy, writes in his recent article Partnerships,

“as to the notion of Partnership it was and is constitutionally impossible for the Crown to enter into a partnership with her subjects”.

The partnership myth originated in the 1986 Maori Council case in which Justice Cook referred to the Treaty giving rise to a partnership between the Maori signatories and the British Crown. According to Judge Willy, Justice Cook was making up the law for which there was no legal precedent and trespassing on the role of Parliament the only institution in our democracy which could legislate for such a fundamental social upheaval.

In a speech back in November 2000, the former Labour Party Prime Minister David Lange also rubbished the idea that the Treaty created a partnership. He explained that the Treaty of Waitangi was a contract between the Crown and Māori, not a partnership. He said treating it as a partnership was not only “absurd” but doing so would result in the introduction of profoundly undemocratic rights and entitlements. Policy changes that are now emerging reveal the undemocratic rights and entitlements that Lange warned about.

As Dr Muriel Newman, in her latest column writes:

“The ‘big lie’ that is being perpetrated against New Zealand democracy is that ‘Maori are in partnership with the Crown’. The ambitious tribal elite driving this dangerous agenda are demanding supreme rights – the power to co-govern New Zealand”.

“Astonishingly, instead of ridiculing their greed and rejecting this ludicrous attack on our democracy, Jacinda Ardern’s Government is perpetuating the lie. As a result, activists are now gaining access to public resources and authority they would once have believed impossible”.

“New Zealand’s democracy is under attack. Masked by a propaganda campaign, most people are failing to recognise that the enemy of democracy is within”.

What can be done about the Treaty partnership myth?

Dr Newman offers some advice:

“we need to remember that this is our country too, and we should not let ourselves be held hostage by extremists. These radicals are not great in number, and but they are using the Treaty “partnership” lie to try to deceive New Zealanders – more people need to say so.”

Therefore, it is suggested we:

  • Speak up and challenge the Treaty partnership ideology whenever it arises
  • Raise awareness amongst friends and family that we are being subjected to an orchestrated propaganda campaign

Further reading: Star News Opinion: Democracy under threat

Go back to the December 2020 newsletter


Local Government update

Government plans a local government system that actively embodies the Treaty partnership. On 23 April 2021 the Minister of Local Government established a review into the future for Local Government:  “The overall purpose of the Review is, as a result of the cumulative changes being progressed as part of the Government’s reform agenda, to identify how our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years, to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities and the environment, and actively embody the Treaty partnership”. Continue reading

The cost to ratepayers of implementing the partnership principle

Photo: Penny Smart, Chair of Northland Regional Council The partnership-with-iwi provisions are creating significant cost pressures for councils. This includes large and on-going costs associated with implementing and maintaining the variety of ways Iwi/Māori are involved in local government and contribute to council decision making. Continue reading

Labour continues down race-based path - undermining equal rights, democracy

Labour’s Māori Manifesto 2020 recommits to the partnership path with Māori. They will continue to support the role of Māori Crown relations – Te Arawhiti in growing the capability and capacity of government departments and organisations to be better Treaty partners, promising to look to take even bolder steps to create change. 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

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

Government moving beyond settlement of treaty grievances – to partnership

Last year, the Government created a new agency - 'Māori Crown relations'. At the launch, Minister Kelvin Davis, announced that "The agency…will help facilitate the next step in the Treaty relationship – moving beyond the settlement of treaty grievances into what it means to work together in partnerships." Continue reading

‘Partnership’ - a way of heading off costly litigation?

Last month we reported on the Horizons Regional Council vote to create a committee of councillors and iwi leaders to come up with strategies for managing Manawatū waterways. Continue reading

What partnership?

For those who were unable to attend the public meeting held in West Auckland on February 23, at which Dr Don Brash gave a presentation on the Crown-Maori partnership ideology, you can now view it here:    Continue reading

He Puapua: The action plan to destroy democracy

Plans are afoot to progressively disrupt our constitutional arrangements and replace our democracy with a revolutionary Treaty-based constitution giving a small group of New Zealanders, claiming to represent the 17 percent of the population with Māori heritage, 50 percent of the decision-making power, and control of the vast economic resources that would accompany such a role. Continue reading

More councils adopt racially-selected appointees

Despite constituents strongly opposing separate race-based representation, as shown in referenda held in 2018, the number of councils across New Zealand which have appointed unelected members with voting rights to council committees has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. The following are examples (by no means the total number) of councils who have recently taken the obligation to consult with Māori to an undemocratic level: Continue reading

Yahoo! A double win for democracy

We end the year with the welcome news that the bill making it harder to remove the Māori seats from Parliament has been voted down at the second reading, with New Zealand First opposing the change. Only Labour and the Green Party supported the legislation. The bill cleared its first hurdle in Parliament last year with the unlikely support of New Zealand First, which opposes the Māori seats. The party wanted to use the bill as a vehicle to hold a two-part referendum on the seats, asking whether they should be entrenched or done away with altogether. But no referendum was added after the select committee stage. Continue reading