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Will Labour stand behind the revolutionary proposals contained in He Puapua – the 20-year plan to realise the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa/New Zealand?

Will Labour stand behind the revolutionary proposals contained in He Puapua – the 20-year plan to realise the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa/New Zealand?

By Chris Trotter*

"Getting ahead of the story” is one of the most important aspects of crisis management. As the PR mavens are fond of reminding their clients: “Explaining is losing.”

If Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Government is not very careful, however, it will soon find itself having to explain why it has failed to reject out-of-hand an official document which calmly anticipates the end of democracy as most New Zealanders understand it.

The Report of the Working Group on a Plan to Realise the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa/New Zealand is one of the most remarkable documents ever submitted to a Minister of the Crown. Set forth on its pages is a twenty-year plan to transform New Zealand from one of the world’s oldest and most respected continuous democracies into what would effectively be a political condominium, presided over by co-equal Maori and Non-Maori rulers. A state in which the economic and cultural power of non-indigenous New Zealanders would be much diminished, and the authority, wealth and influence of its indigenous people greatly expanded.

Entitled He Puapua, the report’s authors: Claire Charters, Kayla Kingdon-Bebb, Tamati Olsen, Waimirirangi Ormsby, Emily Owen, Judith Pryor, Jacinta Ruru, Naomi Solomon and Gary Williams; are refreshingly upfront about the scope of their endeavours. In an explanatory note on the report’s title they state:

“‘He puapua’ means ‘a break’, which usually refers to a break in the waves. Here, it refers to the breaking of the usual political and societal norms and approaches. We hope that the breaking of a wave will represent a breakthrough where Aotearoa’s constitution is rooted in te Tiriti o Waitangi and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

For most people “the breaking of the usual political and societal norms and approaches” is another way of describing revolutionary change. Certainly, it is difficult to interpret the Declaration Working Group’s (DWG) blueprint for change as anything less. It is highly unlikely, however, that when the Prime Minister spoke of “transformation”, she was referring to He Puapua’s proposed revolutionary reconstruction of the New Zealand state.

Even so, when the Minister of Maori Development, Nanaia Mahuta, presented her paper entitled DEVELOPING A PLAN ON NEW ZEALAND’s PROGRESS ON THE UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES to the 18 March 2019 meeting of the Cabinet Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Committee, it is rather surprising that her colleagues were not temporarily deafened by political alarm bells going off in their heads.

Did none of those present think to parse out the potentially disastrous political consequences of commissioning a “Declaration plan” which, according to Mahuta, “could be a national plan of action, a strategy, or some other tool that provides a map that demonstrates and guides progress across government. I expect the Declaration plan to include time-bound, measurable actions that show how we are making a concerted effort towards achieving the objectives of the Declaration.”

Clearly not, because that is precisely what the DWG presented to the Minister seven months later. Te Puni Kokiri’s response to the document was certainly not discouraging: “The DWG provided the Minister with their final report, He Puapua, on 1 November 2019. The DWG’s report was highly insightful and provided a positive starting point to guide our thinking and will be used as part of the work programme to develop a Declaration plan.”

Somewhere, however, someone decided that, on reflection, it might be better to keep the content of He Puapua under wraps. It was not until October of 2020 that Mahuta consented to the release of a highly truncated version of the report.

Unsurprisingly, given the content of He Puapua, opponents of the now decades old “Maori Separatist” agenda were not slow to recognise its radical implications for the future of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Former Act MP, and founder/director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, Muriel Newman, even managed to secure of copy of the whole 123-page document.  

Newman’s judgement of the report’s contents was savage:

“In essence, once a Treaty-based constitution is in place and tikanga is embedded in the common law, under Vision 2040 Maori separatists will control the country.

“This is not pie in the sky. It is already underway.

“There has been no public debate about the Declaration, nor was it mentioned in the Labour Party’s election manifesto.

“The only information freely available about this UN plan to replace New Zealand democracy with tribal rule – and enact the biggest overhaul of public affairs this country has ever seen – was a general announcement by Minister Mahuta in 2019, and now, a year and a half later, the partial publication of a document revealing Jacinda Ardern’s dangerous intentions.”

Are the National Party and Act aware of the existence of He Puapua, its contents and recommendations? Maybe not. In October of 2020 both of the right-wing parties were in the midst of an election campaign and its aftermath. It is just possible that they missed the importance – and even the fact – of its release altogether.

Besides, as Newman points out, it was under the Prime Ministership of National’s John Key that New Zealand signed-on to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Or, more precisely, it was Key who authorised the Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples to fly off secretly to New York in April 2010 to surprise the world with his country’s acceptance at the United Nations.

At the time this was considered something of a coup for both Sharples and Key. After all, the Labour leader, Helen Clark, had consistently refused to support the Declaration while she was prime minister. Clark, like Winston Peters, was convinced that its provisions would have dire consequences for the country’s democratic institutions. Peters’ summation was typically trenchant: “The United Nations Indigenous Peoples Declaration… is the final step on the road to separatism. This is the road to Zimbabwe.”

But if Newman is right, and National is steering clear of the whole issue out of embarrassment, that still leaves unexplained Act’s failure to respond to what can only be considered the most extraordinary political gift.

For a classical liberal party like Act, the idea that a fundamental transformation in the nation’s constitutional, legal, political, economic and cultural arrangements could be contemplated in secret, and enacted piecemeal, without the prior passage of an authorising referendum, piles anathema upon abomination.

Act’s leader, David Seymour, should be demanding from the present Minister of Maori Development a categorical rejection of He Puapua’s “roadmap”. At the very least he should be seeking a rock-solid commitment from Willie Jackson – and the Prime Minister – that the creation of a bi-cultural state, founded squarely upon the prevailing reading of te Tiriti o Waitangi and the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, will only proceed on the basis of a two-thirds referendum majority.

Will he, though? The possibility has to be conceded that Act – along with National – will dismiss He Puapua as just one more example of Te Puni Kokiri’s magical thinking. If this is, indeed, their response, then they will be vindicating the prediction made nearly 40 years ago by Donna Awatere, author of the ground-breaking series of articles published in Broadsheet under the title “Maori Sovereignty”:

“The strength of white opposition will be allayed by the fact that Maori sovereignty will not be taken seriously. Absolute conviction in the superiority of white culture will not allow most white people to even consider the possibility.”

The likely consequences for Labour, however, if “white people” are persuaded to take the ideas and plans contained in the DWG’s report seriously, are potentially so dire that the only realistic way to get ahead of this story is to kill it – and He Puapua – stone dead.

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Muriel Newman eh, that who you are citing in reaction?
One of most anti-Left people writing in NZ.
Yes its a radical document and also, plainly, utterly unobtainable objective.
Minimum of 55% of NZ electorate is Right or centre right voting.
Lab only got 50% because of CV19 success. That will not last til next election when they will most likely get 40% if that. Since Chinese and Pakeha electorate is about 67% of voters, the whole article is a bit silly

I think you just proved his point:!!

“The strength of white opposition will be allayed by the fact that Maori sovereignty will not be taken seriously. Absolute conviction in the superiority of white culture will not allow most white people to even consider the possibility.”

All the while quietly in the background people chip away and remove one stone at a time from the wall.

Agree Labour will not reproduce a standalone majority in 2023. But equally that might mean a Labour/Greens coalition, with the latter in cabinet, forms a government. That being the case, rule nothing out that is out of left field.

I think the point of the article wooshed right over your head.

It's that Labour are, or appear to be, beginning the steps towards this 2040 vision without holding a referendum, or even plainly telling the public that they are doing this.

The cynical might suggest that Matariki public holiday is baby step #1 on this path, that Labour did campaign on in the 2020 election. The separate Maori health organisation floated as part of the DHB reorganisation could be step #2.

Garbage. The Ardern govt is not revolutionary and Matariki has nothing to do with it.

Let's see if they are 'revolutionary by stealth' or not. They've been quite successfull in incrementally implementing a trade union wish list with 10 sick days, another public holiday, minimum wage increases all brought in so far. Matariki does 'have something to do with it', IMO.

'revolutionary by stealth'

Good grief. Take a look at their backgrounds. There is nothing in there to suggest that the Labour Party is anything beyond being a middle-of-the-road populist govt who pay lip service to left-leaning ideas. If they weren't political leaders, they wouldn't amount to much beyond bureaucrats who knock off at 5 pm and wear slippers and cardigans in the office. Could you imagine Robertson in guerrilla warfare like Che Guevara? He'd last 5 mins.

Do you honestly think I was stating that various current Labour politicians are likely to be involved in an actual armed revolution?
You don't need to acheive by violent confrontation that which can be acheived by incremental change, as long as you have enough patience.

David Lange was quite revolutionary and I don't think he would have lasted even three minutes in the jungles of South America.

Incremental change as long as you haven enough patience. This I would suggest is exactly the strategy of the Green Party and if so, to be fair, they are following that strategy efficiently and cleverly. Obviously outside of government this term but when they look forward, they see certainty that Labour will require their support in an authentic coalition, if to retain power in 2023. In the meantime the Greens actually are benefitting from being on the side lines, neutral as the government’s stumbling blocks increase in both number and size. Not last time but next time those glittering prizes of seats at the cabinet table.

Just like we had "communism by stealth" in the past. Although obviously we've created massive dependency in property investment now, so maybe John Key was not talking nonsense before he also ran with it.


Having read the document, I'm not clear on what specifically about it would require a referendum at this stage of the considerations?

Key's government didn't seek a referendum when signing onto the UN Declaration. This is just progress work in relation to that UN commitment - and it's behind schedule as well.

The exploratory work in defining what co-governance might look like, and seek to achieve, has to be done. Geoffrey Palmer and others looked at a possible NZ Constitution and no one called for a referendum on his ideas;

I'm not sure why the document had to be obtained under OIA - but if that was the case, then the 'by stealth' comment has some merit.

Many of the recommendations are indeed support for actions already underway. Others are suggestions for further exploration, such as a bicameral Parliament (which the British have). One could only see the document as some kind of threat, if one doesn't yet understand/appreciate tikanga Māori; doesn't want to see Māori themselves improving on outcomes for Māori; and/or refuses to accept the bi-cultural nature of NZ's indigenous/settler history.

A bit like the US Constitution - one of the things that holds back their society is a view that society hasn't changed since the Enlightenment era. We're quite lucky here that our Constitution is made up of many statutes and conventions which allows us to be more flexible and progressive in our kāwanatanga/governance.

In addition: Labour will not get elected with inflation exceeding wage increases.

Another addition: Lab already mandated the employment matter to the RBNZ, so rightly.. when soon all those essential workers wages need to keep up with inflationary cost (driven by hidden housing cost massive increases).. then the year 2020 already shown how the experiment works, just give more to the wages subsidy. What Lab trying to do now, is to bridge that gap.. between wages on the other side and elevated surface on the other side.


Impressive that Chris Trotter has collated these facts together in an important article. I would say that the renaming of our government agencies has been Step 1, and the weak acceptance by pasty liberals will embolden the separatists. The response to any questioning has been "Ooeer....don't you want to learn the Maori lanaguage?"- a disingenuous response which fails to make a distinction between keeping a language alive and in usage, & the stark symbolism of systematically renaming our government agencies with Maori words taking primacy. As Chris states in his article, there is no public debate or discourse in advance of change, no oportunity for a democratic process: these things just now happen, with much more coming down the pipeline.

I don't speak te reo Māori but I have come to understand that tikanga Māori is embedded in te reo Māori;

For example the word whenua/land, is also the word for whenua/placenta. This is indicative of the place of Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) being the land/placenta that nourishes us.

Hence, learning the language is fundamental to understand/appreciate tikanga Māori.

This thing about a 'democratic process' - was there a democratic process when Te Awakairangi was re-named Hutt River? No. Was there one when it was given dual name status? Yes.

Representative of a level of complexity that we are all apparently not supposed to acknowledge - as it is not a 'lens' that suits the politically enforced narrative of a homogenous Maori nation & language absent of nuance and dialects - is seems this river has has several names and that most recently it was known by Maori as Heretaunga.

The official name since 2011 is Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River.[2] Early Māori residents, such as Ngāi Tara, called it Te Awa Kairangi. Later Māori settlers named it Te Wai o Orutu after Orutu, a Ngāti Mamoe ancestor.[3][4] By the time European settlers arrived, Māori called it Heretaunga,[3][4] a name adopted by an Upper Hutt suburb and secondary school. Heretaunga as a Māori name combines here, meaning "to tie up", and taunga, literally meaning "to be at home" - the name originated with a mooring place for canoes.[3]

Yes, and that is the history that was told as a part of the considerations by the Geographic Board.

Not sure what your point is.

I think his point is that Maori have their own political tensions and disagreements, Kate. This is evident in many areas including the treaty settlement process. The tensions are occasionally so high that the occasional political leader has opined that democracy is not necessarily suited to Maori. A comment that I personally am very concerned about because of what it implies.

When I look at what Maori politics and the media are pushing in NZ I am concerned. The message underlying a lot of the politics is that somehow Maori are unable to make good decisions for themselves. I don't buy this at all. I suggest we need to stop treating Maori as if they are somehow inferior. Being Maori should not be seen as a justification for poor choices, if not least because poor choices are not unique to Maori. Much of this messaging becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.

Common Kate you are speaking above most peoples heads. BUT your input is essential to N ew Zealand Society.


Interesting and frightening. But none of this would be necessary if all our Governments lived up to their mandate from the people and ensured they acted on behalf of everyone, ensuring all get a share of the wealth this country produces. But now the colonisation process continues.

What is fascinating is that the UN is apparently not aware of the potential consequences of the processes it recommends. And Winston Peters - another reason to lament his loss to our political scene. His blunt honest, outspokenness should have been a taonga treasured by all, instead of feared by those in power.


Here is an example of what is happening in Maoridom

Jade Kake - An australian born in Australia
Her Father is Dutch. Her mother is not a full blood
Which makes her less than half-blood

She identifies all her tribal affilliations through her mother
Jade Kake (Ngāti Hau, Te Parawhau, Ngāpuhi, Te Whakatōhea, Te Arawa)
While denying her European ancestry
Her bio decries colonialism

This could be the most ignorant comment I have read here and that's a pretty high bar.

Many Maori live in Australia, their connection to Aotearoa is undiminished. Our connection to tupuna and whenua is not restricted to your definition. How long have you lived in NZ, have you ever wandered into a Marae and looked around? Look at her koro, her bloodline is strong.

Blood and soil.

.. where have I heard that one before.

I think it all comes down to aesthetics. Te Kooti is impressed by the aesthetics of Jade's koro (grandfather). Ancestral lands and the notion that tribes are fundamentally different, physically and spiritually, have a tolkienesque appeal. Such ideas are furiously suppressed for those with Western European backgrounds and are viewed as obsolete, to put it kindly.

Did you really just say I'm impressed by the fact he's brown? Being brown has nothing to do with anything other than in the context of the dips+++ who started this thread questioning her right to identify as Maori.

Denial of 75% of her ancestry

Why do you think Maori of varying degree's of ethnicity have so much more pride in their Maori lineage?

Because it can be lucrative?

Yes, being Maori has been super lucrative, I'm blessed. What you are projecting is pakeha resentment at losing power and the potential for brown people to actually get ahead.

And the Māori argument isn't even about losing power, but sharing power - as a quick read of the document Chris is talking about is testament to. Western/Enlightenment notions of acting in self-interest run deep, deep, deep. I am forever amazed at this.

Sharing power is equivalent to losing power for many pakeha Kate. They know that much of their wealth has come from stripping NZ of resources, land, the ocean and polluting waterways etc. They think Maori were incapable of exporting seafood, farming, growing produce, exporting timber, tourism - like there is some Western fairy dust we need to enable those activities.

For a race that destroyed as much of NZ's native flora as they could get to burn, then hunted their main food source into extinction before starting to eat each other, Maori conservation credentials are not that crash hot either.

But in many cases the 'brown people' are effectively denying or dismissing their 'white' Pakeha heritage, and are actively encouraged to do so.
How can you rail against the 'colonisers' when the 'coloniser' Pakeha is your grandfather, great grandmother, mother, father etc? i.e. you are part Pakeha (other) yourself.
Without that 'white' Pakeha heritage, the person doing the railing would literally not exist.
An individual with mixed Maori and Pakeha heritage should surely ackowledge that any other set of circumstances would have seen them miss out on the gift of life. So from that point of view, should the arrival of the Pakeha 'colonists' not be something to be cherished and celebrated, rather than seen as an adverse event?

Tom you are looking at this through a Western lens. Maori culture is so much richer and deeper, the carvings, the stories, the songs and most important of all - the attachment to land. We are shareholders in large blocks, we manage our seafood, we are raised knowing our whakapapa intricately, we know where we fit in - everybody does. We are custodians of our land and coast for future generations - the total antithesis of Western thought.

All one needs to do to witness this deeper cultural richness (which extends to all Pacific peoples) is to watch today's Parliamentary session in tribute to the late Prince Philip. I've never before cried when watching a Parliamentary session. I cried twice during that one. Watch it in full and particularly to the end.

It's a well documented phenomenon. There have been high profile cases in the US of white men and women identifying and insisting that they are people of color.

Put simply, there's power in belonging to a minority in modern society. An example of this is being able to make privileged claim to land through ancestry. If someone in a local majority made similar claims, they'd be accused of racism and nationalism.

I think claims to land through ancestry are an outdated idea at best and at worst, are dangerous. We live on beautiful lands shared with people of all ethnicities, we all have equal rights and responsibilities here.

My sister got it into her head that she had some Gypsy heritage and was quite taken with this idea. Again I go back to aesthetics which is shaped by current culture. The film Avatar epitomizes this curious phenomenon. Advertising, marketing, social engineering, politics, is all about shaping an aesthetic. Jacinda Ardern was chosen as Prime Minister simply for the aesthetics. Choosing a white, middle-aged, Christian dude would be the absolute worst aesthetics currently. We are simple creatures.

A daughter of one of my employees in the States was Italian/Irish Catholic and filtered over to a black african community and converted to muslim. no problem with any of that, a lovely girl, and talking to her in the office one day she quite candidly explained that she saw and experienced greater strength in a minority ethnicity because they had to be strong, focused and tightly bound. In other words she saw direction there and that gave her a greater sense of security.

Exactly. Total lack of understanding. Sadly, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

So you would encourage 6th generation kiwis of British descent to be loyal to Britain and have British festivals? Like diwali and lantern festival?

While we are on this topic, does anyone know where the interpretation of the treaty as a partnership or power sharing agreement comes from? All I see in the text is a reasonably strong and comprehensive right to autonomy and property rights. Certainly no right to public funding.

Depending on interpretation I think we are probably fairly close to meeting the strict requirement of the Indigenous Rights Declaration listed in the He Puapua text (this is probably why Key was OK with us signing it).

All this reinterpreting of existing text and words is Leftist/Establishment power games, raising an alarm ever-time you see one of these before the pubic see this as real is "crying wolf". If this one is defeated now there will just be another in a couple of years time. Labour are not even brave enough to bring in hate speech legislation and ACTs polling figures keep rising I don't think this attempt will go anywhere.

Maybe the reason they don't bring in hate speech legislation is not for a lack of bravery but simply desiring the people to be free from such Orwellian nonsense.

Labour is full of intellectuals who have an inclination towards political censorship (the primary purpose of all modern hate speech legislation), this includes the PM.
Jacinda has made soft promises to implement this legislation. Maybe your right and enough of the caucus rebelled once the details of the legislation would have to be were worked out but I think reelection prospects would have been the primary consideration. I don't think we herd the last of this legislation though.

Where all this is heading as CT points out is Maori separatism- A Maori health system, Maori education etc, all for 15% of the population, but funded by the whole population. Maori were separate up until they signed the treaty when they became British subjects with all the rights and obligations that that entailed. They were treaty partners before signing the treaty; they could not retain that status after becoming subjects of the other party. If the process CT refers to is allowed to run its full course, ie Maori achieve 50% co-governance it will be the equivalent to overturning the treaty. Perhaps then the Crown might be able to retrieve all the money it has paid out in treaty settlements.

I do not understand the concept or the thrust of a seperate Maori health system. Is it proposed to be at all levels in so much that Maori will only receive medical care from Maori practitioners? So consequently Maori will not avail themselves of Pakeha, or other ethnicities, qualified in oncology, orthopaedic, cardiac, neurology et al. That appears rather short sighted or alternatively, is NZ’s medical services then proposed to be cherry picked on an ad hoc basis. That seems rather subjective and selective. Can any one clarify? Quite honestly, this initiative is baffling.

FG. It's undeniable that Maori are less successful at accessing health services than other ethnicities; for a range of reasons. Our position as a country has been to say 'we have a great system open to all, it's up to you to come to us'. Problem is that too many Maori haven't and aren't. So do we just say 'tough' or try a different approach?. To propose that Maori 'will not avail themselves of pakeha provided services' is clearly not supported by the reality in NZ with its 700K identifying as Maori, a large % of whom are clearly agnostic to the ethnicity of the providers. But an unacceptably high number are also falling through the cracks.


It'd be interesting to see this come into effect. The Last time Maori had sovereignty they were more than happy to cede it to the crown, because having lived it first hand they could see the shortcomings of Maori rule and the advantages of British rule. I don't honestly believe the are many Maori who want to go back to the old ways of doing things, but I'm sure there are a few who would love to set themselves up as despots living the life of a tribal chief with absolute authority.

That's a big call to suggest that Maori could see into the future and that they saw British rule as the answer to their problems.


They weren't seeing into the future, they were living in the present with lawlessness and the inter-tribal musket wars having a devastating effect on the Maori population. When Te Rauparaha invaded another tribe's territory he certainly was applying the 'right of conquest' and had no interest in treaties. 'Right of conquest' means that the strongest party wins out, and the conqueror takes immediate possession of anothers territory by superior force of arms. Maori did it too each other without any qualms, yet when the British invaded or confiscated land we should for some reason view it as an unconscionable travesty.

You really have a short grasp on history Jack..did all Maori sign the Treaty did they?

All but 39 did out of about 540 chiefs/rangatira. Of the 39 the two major tribes that didn't were Waikato and Arawa.

I don't really see your point? Of course not every single Maori signed the treaty. Enough of them did, and those that did, got to enjoy living under the rule of law that stopped the strong oppressing the weak, those that thought might makes right, kept on fighting. Having actually read the history as written by first hand accounts, I do actually have a pretty good grasp of the situation. I also think that a lot of people are ignorant of what the actual situation was when Europeans first arrived in NZ, it was far from idyllic.

Jack. Don't know if your comment is directed at me or frazz but of possible interest is that only 45 signed on the day. The rest of the signatures were were obtained later when the treaty was taken around the country to be signed by the other Rangatira. It's clear that signing was supported by a near overwhelmingly majority.

Thanks they are great stats, over 90% of Rangatira jumped at the chance to improve their lives.

Ah well if this government pushes this through then no complaints since its a majority government then that we voted for.

That is is. You got it in one. So should the rest of the Team of 5 Million

It is already 'baked in' to NZ common law and legal system. High Court JR's, landmark cases, criminal etc ... Policy, Business, Education etc...
The only area that needs changing is the Westminster system. A move toward a Republic is what this says, without saying it.

Whats indigenous anyway. I have no maori ancestry, and the only place I am from is New Zealand.
If you had to label me, best would be Indigenous New Zealand.
For that matter what's a 'Maori'. Those assuming that title are not the Maori of 1840.
Time to update the catagories, or better maybe to admit the labels themselves are a bit silly in 2021.

If you had to label me, DC best would be Indigenous New Zealand

I don't think so. Your comment alone suggest you're likely to be a NZer of European descent. Indigenous suggests 'native to the land before colonization'. I think Maori fit that bill easily (dumbass, ignorant comments about Moriori are meaningless).


Will those related to ancient Britons be able to make similar claims for the British Isles? I suspect that would be shouted down (quite rightly) as white supremacy.

This whole thing reeks of racism to me. Where the far-right meets the far-left.


LOL. I searched for the word 'Moriori' here JC and you are the only one who mentioned it. Are you saying your comment was 'dumbass and ignorant'?


When we talk about indigenous it is usually with regards to when a species is to be found. I would say that humans are indigenous to Africa, and have then spread around the planet and are now to be found on virtually every landmass. Dividing humans according to 'races' or 'racial characteristics' ignores the fact that 'race' has no taxonomic significance because all living humans belong to the same subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.

We should work on removing these labels. Humans are not some sort of fauna unique to a particular locality like red squirrels or something. Reminds me of those human zoos they had in the old days.

Correct, because humans have culture and animals don't, and there are cultural differences between humans that require acknowledgement.

There are also genuine physiological differences between races of humans, even though we're all one species, and this plays out in medical data (even when controlling for socioeconomic factors etc).

As someone who lives between two cultural realms, I can say "acknowledgement of differences" is way easier said than done when those different people need to live together. This is specially so under a legal system that is primarily build around "personal rights" and not around pre-determined group memberships. An old Islamic state for example, would have allowed Christians and Jewish people to live according to their faith. Internal affairs of Christians (e.g. most of their civil matters such as marriage, inheritance, allowed and disallowed food and drinks etc) would have been left to them. However this was as long as those groups acknowledge the primacy of the Islamic state and the unequal rights between Muslims and the second class citizens (e.g. A Muslim could not be prosecuted for murdering a Christian, while a Christian would surely been executed for killing a Muslim). Such system, in European Medieval time, was going to be superior for minority groups. But under the Nation-State model of modern times, we come to see these as horrendous practices.

Respecting other cultures for their food, art, clothing etc is easy. But when it comes to how people are expected to treat each other, including those not members of a group and those born into a group who do not want to conform with some or all, the story becomes very different.

My preference is Kipling. Something like - in the wild there is no right and wrong, only life and death.

Or as Sam Harris bluntly puts it; (paraphrased from memory) some are obsessed with all things natural as though nature is a beautiful harmonious environment whereas what I see is a brutal bloody abattoir.
Perhaps 'looking up at the stars, I know quite well, that for all they care, I can go to hell' - W H Auden.

True too. We have such, harness the wild, neighbours who we gather knit their own underwear. Laudable connection to nature of course, but in truth, they never look that comfortable.

We should work on removing these labels. Humans are not some sort of fauna unique to a particular locality like red squirrels or something. Reminds me of those human zoos they had in the old days.

Trust me. There are differences between humans. If you were removed from the safe confines of suburban NZ and dumped in China, I'm sure you'd soon appreciate the differences. The first difference you might notice is language.

Each and everyone of us is born as human & thus we remain, spiritually, physically. None of us regardless of colour, creed, condition or whereabouts is otherwise. Of course some humans turn out to be a lot worse in terms of natural honour of life and wellbeing, than what you might find otherwise.

The term Maori Sovereignty is a misnomer, there was no functioning Maori Nation as such only groups of tribes most of whom were engaged in frequent conflict primarily over claims to territory.

The term Maori Sovereignty is a misnomer, there was no functioning Maori Nation as such only groups of tribes most of whom were engaged in frequent conflict primarily over claims to territory.

Similar to the Native Americans. Doesn't mean that they have different culture and values to white people in suburbia. To suggest otherwise is demeaning.

Says the pakeha, through 'his' colonial 'lense'.

The nation-state is a construct that emerged in
15th century Europe. It’s not a bad thing necessarily if Maori did not have a sovereign authority, but it’s not a colonial “lens” to say that they didn’t have one.

The question to ask is, who wrote the Treaty Articles? Answer; the pakeha. The second question would be? Who's language was it misinterpreted 'in?' The pakeha(s).
So why didn't it work over 180 years ago and why isn't it working now? Is the third question.

There are too many assumptions that the Maori and the Pakeha were on "the same page", as it were.

There can always be different interpretations about the meaning of agreements even where the language is the same. The US Constitution is a classic example. The reason there is continued misinterpretation is because special interest groups want the interpretation that suits their self-interest. This is just human behaviour.

Given that there are two versions, misinterpretation over time is inevitable. This is made even more difficult given that Maori society did not share certain concepts with the settlers (and vice versa) and was largely an oral, not written, society. But it is very difficult to now resolve these issues in a way that is satisfactory to everyone. Many NZers are not descendants of those settlers and would find the way some settlers had treated Maori as reprehensible. It does not follow, however, that a two-channel democracy would necessarily address those wrongs and the inequities we see in NZ. Some may argue that inequities may be increased. Our current democracy is imperfect, but certainly better than the alternatives I have seen proposed.

Undoubtedly there was disparity and disadvantage for Maori curled up in that. If they had had the ability to express their own language and vernacular in writing, obviously they would have been able to formulate and submit their position and case with greater emphasis and definition. Lack of being advanced to that level certainly did them no favours. Off on a tangent but reminds me of an All Black friend who visited Wales in the 1950s, gave a nice friendly speech at a village which was translated as he went into gaelic, almost a riot, the translator completely corrupted the version.

The question to ask is, who wrote the Treaty Articles? Answer; the pakeha. The second question would be? Who's language was it misinterpreted 'in?' The pakeha(s).
So why didn't it work over 180 years ago and why isn't it working now? Is the third question.

There are too many assumptions that the Maori and the Pakeha were on "the same page", as were.

Being a Liberal today means silencing those you disagree with and against free speech. Being a Liberal means forcing people to wear masks or inject something into their bodies. Being Liberal today means banning or deplatforming those you disagree with.

That actually sounds like a traditional Conservative position. So labour and greens are actually Conservative.


Pitting race against race is already well under way. This is one of the most regulated, erratic, divisive governments in my life time.
So that's why we are being waterboarded with Maoridom. New Zealand along with the name will cease to exist.
There will be blood sadly.

Whose blood?

The witches'

Everyone’s. There are no winners in political divide and conquer.

Wow it must be an ultra slow news day/week if you have to wheel out that old chestnut “The Maoris are coming! The Maoris are coming!”

Got to keep those clicks happening for that ad money

Guess so few people see value in subscribing so you roll out this click bait.

Chris Trotter wouldn't be given a topic and instructed to write an opinion piece on it. I think you are tilting at windmills on this one.

The idea that the He puapua recommendations could be implemented by government decree, is fantasy. Trotter cites the radical Awatere's predictions that non Maori NZ would acquiesce because we are 'convicted of our own superiority' as though her utterances were credible. The country and its thinking have moved on from such arrogant 'white' attitudes in the last 40 years. 1m now live in NZ who weren't born here, many of whom are not of Awatere's 'white' tribe. What, I wonder, would they think of the dismantling of democracy and separatist agenda inherent in the He puapua recommendations? Consider the sensitivity of the government to the hate speech issue where the previous enthusiasm for change expressed by Ardern and Little has subsided as a consequence of adverse polling feedback. Tiny stuff by comparison with this big Kahuna which would generate such intense conflict that it would consume any government foolish enough to do more than pay lip service to it.

Generate such intense conflict. Indeed that is what is starting to make me generally very nervous with regard to the rapidity societal questions are being raised and dispatched. This government is such as a landlubber on a yacht, in a high sea, pulling on halyards without any idea as to what they do.

Yes, as demonstrated by the PMs recent gauche observation ( accompanied by theatrically outspread christ the redeemer arms ) that in respect of hate speech 'we know it when we hear it'. In doing so she exemplified the simplistic superficiality with which such issues are presented to the public these days. In this case demonstrating a profound ignorance (although ironically unaware she had just defined the key challenge in defining hate speech) but telegenically convincing enough to have the masses nodding in agreement.

Look I don’t doubt the sincerity, and earnestness perhaps, of our PM but mostly I have become both dismayed and embarrassed by a mawkish, gawky and syrupy dose of patronising parrying of legitimate questions and issues when thus raised. To me, my opinion only, she is now something like a Mary Poppins styled kindergarten teacher that might get to masquerading at hallowed halls such as Oxford,, still full of fluff and puff and grand gesticulations, but in reality unqualified and of no substance and about to be exposed. Kindergarten teachers, no offence intended.

A good example is the way Ashley Bloomfield’s repeated acceptance of lobbyist hospitality was downplayed as “no New Zealander would want to deny Dr Bloomfield an afternoon at the cricket”. One of the things I think John Key was good at was answering some things with humour and some things seriously (I once asked him a nerdy question about balance of payments). Clark never really did humour, but she too had the ability to deal with challenging questions with some serious intellectual grunt. I haven’t seen Ardern do this sadly (although she did try to explain fomite transmission, which was entertaining). She’s also lacked the backbone to deal with dilemmas in a way that satisfactory for anyone (e.g. Ihumatao).

We are, and always will be, the New Zealand ! Where the law is equally applied to all New Zealanders, without race, religion, ethnicity.Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless New Zealand.

More like God Save NZ.

Currently, 97 children attend the school; none of them are Pakeha.

Play the video - it will take less than 4 minutes of your life. Perhaps it will help you to accept what discrimination looks like.

Kate, this is truly terrible. And State must answer why school is in such dire condition. There really is no excuse for school buildings to be so unfit for purpose. Surely schools must be evaluated yearly for being fit for purpose. The problem is not necessarily discrimination. It is that fact that when state is providing a service, they are not accountable for its quality or outcome. You are completely and totally at their mercy. Obviously the more affluent citizens always have the resources to do what the state is not capable of doing. I assume the whole decile system is to acknowledge this fact and to direct more resources to lower deciles. A state failure does not equal to discriminations though.
You should really ask the Labour government why they let the school to operate as it is. This is not a discriminations story, this is a story of how incompetent Government can be at providing services and how unaccountable, untouchable and irresponsible it can be. Any private school would have been bordered up, owners taken to court 10 years ago.

A state failure does not equal to discriminations though.

Thanks for commenting and caring. I'd question if the State is not discriminating against the poor (as you suggest) - then, what is it? Purely coincidental? Purely incompetence?

To say the State is merely incompetent is excusing the State for its discrimination. Our disadvantaged communities are ignored; swept under the carpet; blamed for their own predicament. Until we all recognise this as discrimination, sadly the inequity will continue and worsen.

While the Ministry of Education and other government departments are underfunded - successive governments are elected on the basis of "no new taxes". It comes down to New Zealanders needing to understand that paying taxes, particularly taxes that you can well afford, is an honourable thing and tax minimisation initiatives are a curse; a disgrace.

We've got to collectively get mad and vocal about inequality.

Not discrimination, just useless. Public sector officials by their very nature are probably the most useless people ever to inhabit the earth. Nothing ever gets done which is exactly why you end up in this situation. The residents of this area vote for this type of uselessness. They are actively supporting it, and then they get this obvious result and complain about it. I get that people in this area may not have the resources to help out, but that is beside the point.

In the area in which I live, the school pool was destroyed by the earthquakes, an indoor heated swimming pool. It lay in ruin for years, while the ministry of education argued about whether it would be replaced when and how. and how many meetings were necessary, would it be indoors, outdoors whatever. Nothing happened. In the end, the community raised all the money to rebuild the pool, with cash. The result, NOT ALLOWED. Now we have to have meetings and approve the design and oh we are not sure whether you are actually allowed to build a pool by yourself etc etc etc. Just useless incompetence. Eventually the community pushed and pushed and pushed them and were allowed to go ahead with the build.

Was that discrimination ? No, it was uselessness and stupidity and incompetence. Not the same as a mouldy school, but exactly the same approach to a similar problem.

“ not accountable?” fair enough. but believe our bureaucrats & suchlike, prefer to use & be unaccountable.

I've noticed a "god of the gaps" type argument often employed by those on the extreme left. Where an obvious explanation can't be seen, it must be racism or discrimination.

Perhaps the school is poorly run?

I note that the tax payer is funding a $700,000 re-roof of the school. This doesn't seem like discrimination to me. I doubt this is being funded from local revenue.

Re-roofing a (largely) 1975 built structure already riddled with toxic mould - a structure that was never built as a permanent one in the first place.

No the school is NOT poorly run - nor is the community lacking in support and capability. A new, permanent-built school was needed 30 years ago - but efforts by the school community were thwarted at every turn;

Since then its been tack on after tack on for the students of this neighbourhood. And meanwhile students elsewhere are complaining about muddy floors on their over-crowded school bus;

I worked as an in-home nurse in the neighbourhood in the early 1980s. Discrimination is in many ways too mild a word.

PS. I also worked as an in-home nurse in the "projects" in the city of Chicago before coming to NZ. And NZ's poor definitely lived in far worse accommodation.

Poorly run? At what level? The teachers, board, principal, or the ministry in charge? Or the minister in charge of the ministry?
But lets just say poorly run. And that is enough to turn our backs on these kids and their community.

"The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members."

NZ Society is surely becoming something I'm less and less enthralled with looking at real life examples like this one.

It is unacceptable at any level for state school structures and equipment to be below a set minimum standard. If this school's facilities are as poor as claimed then arses need to be kicked. But investment in kids is a two lane road. We can bleat about the state supposedly 'turning its back on these kids' but too many have little or no parental investment. A niece of mine teaches at a decline 1 school and has one pakeha kid in her class. The majority are maori and pasifika but also multiple ESOL migrant kids. She loves them dearly, there is plenty of state funding for food, teaching aids etc and the school has very dedicated, supportive leadership but her main and ( she has concluded) insurmountable problem - parental indifference. The distressing impact of seeing the neglectful home environment kneecapping so many of her kids futures has worn her down to a point that she is considering moving to a higher decline school.

I'm a bit lost with your reasoning here.
It feels like moving on from the school might be in its current state due to being poorly run to, if kids don't choose their parents wisely, then they will have to lie in the bed they made?
Should the state of that school (or any school) be somehow conditional on an audit of the parents?

Kudos to your niece. That would be draining. I'd bet wherever she ends up, their will be former pupils out there somewhere thankful to have crossed paths with her.

Thanks Hamish. Yeah she's a star. Same for most of the staff at her school. The decile system (and Hipkins replacement deprivation index grading system that's not, apparently, a grading system) is a de facto 'audit' of parents economic status which is claimed by progressives to be a proxy for those parents capacity to 'invest' in their kids academic progress. My nieces experience only partly supports that claimed causation, with some of her kids enjoying the close interest of their poor parents in their kids academic progress. Ingrained cultural barriers, including unease at kids exceeding the educational standards achieved by their parents, are her primary brick wall battle.

The distressing impact of seeing the neglectful home environment

By "seeing", do you mean that she visits the students at their homes on a regular basis?

Seems to me teachers have been loaded up with a tremendous amount of social responsibilities beyond simply educating children. Therefore one supposes, there must have been simultaneously a fair degree of training, they are virtually being asked to be watchdogs. We have in extended family husband & wife primary school teachers, retired in the last five years or so. They had and still have an almost impulsive instinct to observe and determine the persona of a child and that includes the child’s likely background, and quite honestly we find it a bit disquieting, but nonetheless this is how they have been conditioned. It is not right, teachers are not psychologists any more than they should be social policeman, and as we see far too often, things for both teacher(s) and pupil(s) outturn poorly as a result.

I have made a lengthy comment on this post at Bowalley Road, the nub of which is "The ..(colonial) regime can claim legitimacy either through Hobson's Declaration of Sovereignty, which would be to openly admit that it is a colonial power, or through the Treaty of Waitangi, which is to commit itself to the kind of political folly that underlies "He Puapua".
So this is the insoluble political dilemma of the Realm of New Zealand. Damned if they do and damned if they don't.
The answer to the problem, while radical, is simple. We have to accept that the colonial regime lacks legitimacy and return to the Whakaputanga of 1835. Move on from there with an end to British sovereignty over Aotearoa and a truly indigenous constitution which allows for no privileged ethnicity or class.

For those unfamiliar with Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Niu Tīreni;

Problem for the Geoff Fishers in New Zealand, with a simplistic answer to go back in time where we have indigenous and colonists, is that many many generations of "colonist" no longer consider themselves as such.
They consider themselves born of this land (tangata whenua), their DNA is in the land. Many count up to 10 generations. Asking them to go back and be considered "colonist" is an insult to the very fact they are Tangata Whenua (born of this land). They will not consider a return to a guilt trip that they are "colonist" and why should they? And this is not just English settlers, but settlers of every creed and colour. There is no going back to what is suggested, neither politically not culturally.

I am not Pākehā, I'm tauiwi (a first-generation foreigner who has settled here). My husband's family (he was adopted in Auckland) are Pākehā. Other members of his adopted family have researched and written books on their ancestor's pioneer journey to NZ and development of industry on arrival. This is his heritage and he understands where and how this adopted family were early exploiters of NZ's natural resources and of their dealings with tangata whenua. They became wealthy land and capital/business owners in what is now NZ's poorest region (the Far North). The other side of his adopted family were seafarers (one ancestor being the first Harbourmaster of Manukau Harbour) and merchants with early businesses in Queen St, Auckland. Again, becoming wealthy, educated and involved in many of NZ's earliest feats of engineering.

And we accept that this is his Pākehā background - privileged well beyond what their Māori countrymen could ever obtain at the time, and often at the expense and on the back of same. Exploiters of both land and people. Sure, they brought progress but settlement was never an even game. This is what it means to be Pākehā, but you have to find yourself - your own ancestral story - to appreciate it; to grieve for the injustice of it and to accept why and how you are part of both the good and the ugly of NZ's history.

I think the more important question is. Have we reached peak "Maoriness" and are people turning off (politically and culturally) all things Maori?

Are the 85% non Maori getting to the point where Maoriness becomes, Meh. Off no interest? Despite the best attempt by the MSM (funded by $110M of tax payers hard earned dosh) to push Maoriness at every opportunity?

Sure we pander to requests right now but in the future? How long will it be before Maori themselves stop want to be "the special people" and needing hand holding like children?

Perhaps a thought to democracy and the notion that one person-one vote, cannot be maintained under a proposal of two separate governing structures based on race.

I recognise your lens/frame, Gerrit. I would be interested in your story of ancestry/whakapapa - where you come from and what framed your way of thinking. We often express opinions in these forums, but are reluctant to expose our own history.

I hope as a society we are only really beginning our journey into new awareness and understanding. Indigenous ethics have so much to offer by way of an alternate lens from which to view our collective problems and common future.

You both make very good points and Kate you have a rare maturity in your acceptance of the past. Gerrit, I have been critical of the RBNZ for using a lot of Maori symbolism yet no still no sign of any senior Maori staff at the RBNZ (and there are plenty of experiences and capable bankers with Maori heritage). The cynic in me see's our culture being used by Pakeha exec's to virtue signal.

Ms Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson
Tainui, Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi
M.M Māori, B.A Māori, AFInstD

RBNZ Board of Directors

Tania was there pre-Orr, I am referring to staff.

Thank you, Te Kooti! I had to read a lot and think a lot in order to understand and then connect to te ao Māori. I liken the learning/knowledge as having been obtained by 'standing on the shoulders of giants' - NZ has many giants :-).

That's awesome!!

Kate, On all four sides of our ancestry we recall the linage back to pre Roman times. We have Baltic and North Sea trader's, cattle breeder's and farmers and manual labourer's DNA in our blood. But that DNA is supplemented by other traits coming in as intermarriages occurred.

As a Tauiwi myself, I consider my children, grand children and great grand children to be Tangata Whenua (born of this land and having formed a relationship with it). .In fact they consider themselves to be Tangata Whenua with their own personal unique relationship with their particular whenua.

Am I less an indigenous citizen having arrived in a big steel waka then someone that arrived in a wooden waka before me?

People dont use a lens to see settlers in that light. For them we are "colonist" second class citizens andd evil personified. A convenient scapegoat to heap all ills on. That is why peak Maori has been reached. We are not responsible for the ills that befall other indigenous society members.

Where are the statistics that support your claim of being treated as a second class citizen? The evidence actually supports the contra. Your peak Maori is nonsensical, in all area's of worthwhile NZ life other than parliament we are under-represented. Look at the utter s***fight to get local authority representation, why are Maori wards so contentious? Because Pakeha do not want to share power

How would you feel if a more powerful force arrived here and took you land, a few generations and they would be tangata whenua?