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