Matthew Hooton is not the only columnist recently failing to provide any substantive, realistic analysis of the enormity of issues at stake in the resurgence of radicalised Maori demands, focused through an unrepresentative Maori Party which did not manage to poll even 3% at the last election.
This highly radicalised grouping of those basically antipathetic to the interests of New Zealanders at large demonstrably doesn’t represent majority Maori.
However, more concerning is that Hooton’s presentation of the present interaction between the radical activists of the Maori Party and the ever-obliging Prime Minister John Key, urged on by neo-tribal leaders all scrabbling for self-advantage, was worryingly lightweight.
His euphoric endorsement of what are in fact disastrous directions undertaken by the National Party is astonishingly naive.
No, John Key’s greatest legacy will not be “maturing New Zealand’s race relations, modernizing social services by embracing private and community providers and thereby addressing disastrous Maori social statistics.”
This is sheer bumf.
The Whanau Ora undertaking shows every sign of being yet another bureaucratic monolith, unwieldy and costly.
Maori tribal leaders themselves have long been quite capable of improving the social statistics of disadvantaged Maori, but have said that they had no intention of doing so.
I recall both Tipene O’Regan for Ngai Tahu and Bob Mahuta for Tainui (who apparently squandered a great deal of their very lucrative settlement) being questioned by reporters pointing out that now the lot of the poorest and most disadvantaged of their tribal descendants could be addressed.
Both repudiated this undertaking, O’Regan claiming it was the government’s job to do so through social welfare.
Bob Mahuta’s answer was to the same effect - the settlement money was to go primarily to the young of the tribe with a view to their education and future activism – especially to those who undertook to learn Maori and to be active in the affairs of the tribe.
The consensus seemed to be in both cases that those the reporters were referring to were essentially no-hopers and these tribal executives weren’t going to waste money on them. So much for caring for “our people”.
Then what were the hugely controversial settlements for — from the 80s and 90s onwards?
New Zealanders with their sense of fair play were prepared for genuine grievances disadvantaging Maori to be addressed, although many very much doubted the wisdom of Geoffrey Palmer’s extraordinary opening of that can of worms making it possible for tribes to relitigate their history backwards to the Treaty of Waitangi.
Even more perturbing was that there was very good evidence some of these settlements had already been very fairly fully and finally settled in the past.
Evidence to this effect was deliberately withheld from scrutiny by the National Government which followed Labour into office.
”Compensation” from the re-settlements did not go to individual Maori, and have not assisted those who most needed a hand up.
Maori who have asked for help from tribal executives have been refused, and those Maori with no particular tribal allegiance, living in our cities and often the most needy, received nothing at all.
Apparently it was Labour’s Mike Moore who decided that the multi-million taxpayer handouts should go to iwi, rather than individual Maori.
What was he thinking of ?
Had it been the other way around, given the now nearly $18 billion dollars held in Maori assets, the outcome might have been a lot more equitable.
Tribal cliques’ stranglehold on the many millions they received seems in many cases to have been to the advantage of Maori corporate executives only — including their extended families.
There are numerous instances, too, of additional grants for specific purposes to facilitate business and new initiatives simply disappearing with no accountability.
However, New Zealanders understood that the original settlements were made to advantage all Maori — not just to be creamed off by the tribal ingroups.
Successive governments’ carelessness and worse have required little or no accountability for the money taxpayers have been, and are still, forced to contribute for injustices — some real — some simply invented and/or elasticized — that took place nearly 200 years ago.
Arguably, they are not the responsibility of this generation.
Our directions have been managed for us by extremely foolish leaders.
Worse, the question of venality arises when the presence of the ongoing gravy train circling around and around taxpayers’ pockets has been very much part of the major political parties’ securing of radical Maori votes to stay in power.
Other countries have long agreed that lost land permanently alienated is just that.
Trying to address the wrongs of the past simply creates far more injustices, as we are seeing. And the greatest injustice of all has been to majority New Zealanders.
What is actually happening is a sellout of the country.
And in relation to the foreshore and seabed issue, a whole new can of worms has been opened by yet another Prime Minister with apparently little comprehension of what is actually at stake, and of how the governments of the day have continually been outwitted by far smarter tribal negotiators — ill-matched by an apparently under-researched Crown Law Office.
The latter already admitted that it was ill-equipped and shortstaffed when dealing with Ngai Tahu, this powerful, well-lawyered tribe, in relation to their third “full and final” settlement.
This was greatly aided at the time by the present Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, who is apparently generously disposed to favourably regard litigation concerning past settlements now being mounted again.
Almost routinely, protests from well-researched historians providing far more comprehensive analysis of these claims than the government-funded academics invariably consulted instead are simply disregarded, or ignored.
We have a situation reaching scandalous proportions where even Crown-owned land, which belongs to all New Zealanders, is being handed over to individual tribes — for their own advantage only.
Matthew Hooton is very much out of his depth in so blithely dismissing the consequences of the Key government lining us up for more trouble ahead in relation to foreshore and seabed claims.
Majority New Zealanders have already seen every opportunistic tribe that can manage to dredge up yet another grievance being able to negotiate directly with the apparently highly sympathetic minister.
In this respect, Finlayon’s extraordinary and somewhat lordly offer to iwi to simply bypass the courts and negotiate directly with him should concern us all.
Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed should never have been in question with the Treaty of Waitangi establishing over-riding sovereignty under which New Zealanders of all races were granted equal rights and access to Crown-owned land.
The recent National Party “compromise” of removing the foreshore and seabed from Crown ownership to ostensibly allow free access for everybody has shocked and angered New Zealanders.
Its fine print gives victory to the Maori Party claiming recognition of something tribes never had as a property right — the conveniently invented “customary rights”.
Touted as not a property right, these are in fact now envisaged by the Key-led government as just that, granting powers of veto, the right of commercial development, and sole rights to some minerals to any neo-tribal group which wins its claim.
Moreover, tribes will be able to veto the mining of minerals such as gold that the government holds in reserve — or come to some financial arrangement (what changes?) with a mining company.
It is simply duplicitous and utterly untrue for the Key government policy-makers to claim all New Zealanders will still have equal rights to these areas.
Allowing tribal cliques to seek through the courts recognition of what would in fact be property rights (under another name) over areas they never owned as property, sells out everybody else’s entitlement.
The National Party is no doubt chuckling at its cleverness in confining these to tribes which have had “exclusive” use of seabed and foreshore.
Their naivety is astonishing.
In every such negotiation that the government has conducted with tribal activists in recent years, it has been the government that has lost.
So New Zealanders at large have lost.
It is a rich irony, too, that it is all other New Zealanders who end up, inevitably, paying for the tribes to research these claims – claims against New Zealanders obliged to pay for them to do so!
What will become alienated land should never have been removed from Crown ownership.
For Hooton to claim that these tradeoffs for the radical Maori vote that John Key is overseeing will not jeopardize National’s re-election is Pollyanna territory.
Moreover, as an issue of fact, both John Key and Matthew Hooton need to take on board the fact that when Key declared “Maori are the tangata whenua * of this country and that we have nothing to fear by acknowledging that” they are wrong on both counts.
Maori radicals are not only deliberately promoting the dangerous doctrine of separatism, even their non-existent “soverignty” — a radicalised attack on this country — but they have hijacked this term.
*As the early historians such as James Cowan, living among the Maori reported, the now constantly misused tangata whenua, meaning “the first people”, was the term that Maori themselves used when referring to the people they knew had come before them.
It did not, and does, not refer to the (part) Maori of today.
New Zealanders at large feel betrayed and ignored by the major parties pandering to a very small minority of those deliberately using racial issues for their own benefit — not for that of the country as a whole.
Self-interest, aided by the equal opportunism of both Labour and National, directed at vote-buying, has done a great deal of damage to this country since the radicalized 1960s.
What we badly need are politicians of principle — not political chicanery and the once-over-lightly commentary being supplied by the mainstream media.
Moreover, as there are apparently no longer any full-blooded Maori in existence today today, and as it is absurd for those who are well below even 50% genetically Maori to claim to be predominately Maori – the question of unfair and inappropriate compensation arises.
Up until 1974, the New Zealand government’s definition of Maori, reasonably enough, was confined to those with 50% or more Maori genetic inheritance.
It is absurd that even Statistics New Zealand have allowed a thoroughly unscientific definition of “emotionally” identifying as Maori as good enough for what should be a non-politicised, objective census definition – especially when one signpost points clearly to lucrative, race-based advantages and preferences for those who cannot possibly be argued to be, in reality, genetically Maori.
Both major political parties have let us down.
It is time to stop the handouts, the granting of special concessions and privileges, and to provide a clear definition of who is and who isn’t Maori — particularly in view of the fact that taxpayer money is at stake.
Without this definition it is simply irresponsible of the National government to continue to negotiate with supposedly Maori representatives who are basically nothing of the sort.
The line that John Key’s weak, vote-buying government should be drawing in the sand should be clearly labelled” Crown land — for all New Zealanders.
© Copyright Amy Brooke