Praise for maiden speeches

December 10th, 2008 at 7:13 am by David Farrar

All_your_base at has a very generous post on the maiden speeches of Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and .

I’ve just watched the first part of the Address in Reply debate which included maiden speeches by two new National Party MPs – Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Melissa Lee. They were impressive. This in itself should provide some cause for concern for Labour but more ominous should be the signal that while this year’s election is over, National’s campaign for 2011 has already begun.

I doubt very much that Sam and Melissa’s names were drawn from a ballot.

They were not. It is a rare privilege to move and second the Address in Reply debate, and the honours normally go to two new MPs whom are judged by the party leadership as having bright futures ahead of them.

In their speeches both made much of the changing face of the National Party. If I heard her correctly, Ms Lee will be New Zealand’s first Korean MP and the first female Korean MP in the world outside of her mother country. Mr Lotu-Iiga scored a convincing victory in the previously Labour-held Maungakiekie electorate. Both MPs spoke confidently in english, in their native tongues, and in Maori. If Labour was ever becoming complacent about the continued traditional support of the nationwide ethnic community, the approach National took today should be a wake-up-call.

Both speeches were excellent. I blog some quotes below.

Finally, I may have missed something but it would have been nice to see even a few of the members of the Labour caucus cross the floor to congratulate the new National Party MPs as did those from other parties (including the Greens). You don’t have to like it, but for the time being you might just have to suck it up.

Yeah maiden speeches are generally a time to put party differences aside.

NZPA reports on parts of Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga’s speech:

Education, family and faith mean a lot to new National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga.

The Samoan-born MP was the first to give a in the new which opened today.

He recalled a childhood in Mangere, where extended family at times swelled the numbers in the household to 16, and sacrifices his parents made.

“My parents suffered and endured a great deal just so us children could live better lives. We were not a wealthy family but we were rich in spirit, resourceful and determined to succeed in this country.”

While he thanked his wife Jules and family, several watching in the audience openly wept. His own voice broke when he talked about his late daughter who he was sure could hear his words. “I miss you and I love you.”

Sam’s family has had huge challenges this year.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said he was raised with strong family values, Christian principles and a strong work ethnic.

“I was taught at a young age that education was the key to a successful future.”

Educated at Auckland Grammar School Mr Lotu-Iiga went on to study at Auckland University to attain BCom/LLB and MCom(Hons) degrees. He also holds an MBA from Cambridge University (Queens College).

I’ll link to the full speech once I have it.

Melissa’s maiden speech was also very personal and moving:

It is with great honour that I deliver my maiden speech not only as the first MP of Korean descent in New Zealand, but also the first Woman of Korean descent to become an MP outside of Korea. It is indeed humbling. It is truly a sign that the world has come of age in a global sense. It’s also a step toward realizing our Prime Minister’s and the National Party’s vision, to make our parliament more diverse and truly representative of the population that now make up our country.

I am also very pleased to be giving my Maiden Speech in this House, at a time when New Zealand has chosen to say NO to a party, whose policy gained support from people who “dislike” people like me – simply because of my ethnic heritage. Call it irony or just a fortunate turn of events that with the exit of that party, comes the first minister of Asian origin in the Cabinet. New Zealand has come of age it seems by saying we have no room at this inn for racists. It is the dawning of a new era, and it is my privilege to be a part of it.

NZ First did run shocking campaigns targeting immigrants based on their race. I actually don’t think Peters himself was racist, but think he did set out to appeal to people who believed in a white only immigration policy, such as his Deputy Leader appeared to.

KA MIHI ATU KI TE TANGATA WHENUA,.. OTIRA KI NGA WAKA HUHUA KATOA I WHITI MAI I TE MOANANUI A KIWA, MAI I HAWAIIKI NUI, KI AOTEAROA.
I pay homage to the tangata whenua … To all of the canoes that crossed the Pacific Ocean from Hawaiiki to New Zealand.

NA RATOU TE ARA I WHAKATAKOTO, OTIRA, NA RATOU TE OOHAAKI I EA AI TE KORERO, HE IWI KOTAHI TATOU.
They paved the way, and they initiated a unity that has made us who we are today.. We are one people.

PERA I A RATOU.. I HAERE MAI AU KI KONEI MA RUNGA I TETAHI WAKA I TE TAU WARU TEKAU MA WARU.
Like them, I too arrived on a waka in 1988.

ENGARI KO NGA HOE O TOOKU WAKA, HE PARIRAU KEE… A, I TERE AKE TE HAERE I TERA O NGA WAKA A NGA TUUPUNA.
The only difference was that my oars were replaced with wings and it travelled much faster than that of the ancestors.

KA AWHI AU I A AOTEAROA, KA AWHI MAI A AOTEAROA I A AU, I TENEI RA KO AU TENEI KUA PUAWAI.
But as I embraced New Zealand, it embraced me back, and nurtured me into what I have become.

I TENEI RA,KA MINAMINA AU KI TE KII.. NOOKU ANO HOKI TENEI WHENUA, NOOKU HOKI TENEI TURANGAWAEWAE.
Today I can honestly identify myself as being a New Zealander, and Aotearoa being my home..

I love the symbolism of a Korean born MP, speaking in Maori, to explain how she has become a New Zealander.

The full speech is over the break.

Address-In-Reply – seconder – Maiden Speech – 9th December 2008
MELISSA LEE (NZ NATIONAL):

Mr Speaker, I second the motion that a respectful Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in reply to His Excellency’s speech.

I’d like to begin my maiden speech by congratulating you Mr. Speaker, on your election to the chair, and wish you, your deputy and assistant speakers my very best. From a journalist’s view of how this House operated in the past, your job is one that requires the patience of a saint. And if the little time I’ve spent speaking with you in the past few weeks is an indication – I have no doubt we will benefit greatly from your vast experience in parliament.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge The Honorable Anand Satyanand, our Governor General. It is an honour to be giving my maiden speech under your watch.

I’d like to pay tribute to the Hon. John Key, our Prime Minister, for delivering such a fabulous result for the National Party and New Zealand. You are indeed the Fresh Leadership the country has demanded and I’m privileged to be a part of the future you envision. I’d like to acknowledge the members of the National Caucus and other parliamentary colleagues – it is indeed my great honour to be here with you all and to call you my colleagues. I’d like to particularly acknowledge our very first Asian Member and now the first Cabinet Minister of Asian origin, Honorable Pansy Wong, who has encouraged and supported me. You have my gratitude. I’d like to pay tribute also to the National Party President Judy Kirk, who has shown me that a powerful woman need not lack grace or style. Thank you for your guidance and love.

I’d like to also thank National Party Northern Regions Alistair Bell, Alan Towers, Kate Graham and Peter Keiley who were there to help me with a friendly ear and ready advice whenever I needed it.

I’d also like to acknowledge the former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Helen Clark – who has been a great supporter of the television program Asia Downunder and the Korean Cinerama Trust over the years – Thank You.

It is with great honour that I deliver my maiden speech not only as the first MP of Korean descent in New Zealand, but also the first Woman of Korean descent to become an MP outside of Korea. It is indeed humbling. It is truly a sign that the world has come of age in a global sense. It’s also a step toward realizing our Prime Minister’s and the National Party’s vision, to make our parliament more diverse and truly representative of the population that now make up our country.

I am also very pleased to be giving my Maiden Speech in this House, at a time when New Zealand has chosen to say NO to a party, whose policy gained support from people who “dislike” people like me – simply because of my ethnic heritage. Call it irony or just a fortunate turn of events that with the exit of that party, comes the first minister of Asian origin in the Cabinet. New Zealand has come of age it seems by saying we have no room at this inn for racists. It is the dawning of a new era, and it is my privilege to be a part of it.

KA MIHI ATU KI TE TANGATA WHENUA,.. OTIRA KI NGA WAKA HUHUA KATOA I WHITI MAI I TE MOANANUI A KIWA, MAI I HAWAIIKI NUI, KI AOTEAROA.
I pay homage to the tangata whenua … To all of the canoes that crossed the Pacific Ocean from Hawaiiki to New Zealand.

NA RATOU TE ARA I WHAKATAKOTO, OTIRA, NA RATOU TE OOHAAKI I EA AI TE KORERO, HE IWI KOTAHI TATOU.
They paved the way, and they initiated a unity that has made us who we are today.. We are one people.

PERA I A RATOU.. I HAERE MAI AU KI KONEI MA RUNGA I TETAHI WAKA I TE TAU WARU TEKAU MA WARU.
Like them, I too arrived on a waka in 1988.

ENGARI KO NGA HOE O TOOKU WAKA, HE PARIRAU KEE… A, I TERE AKE TE HAERE I TERA O NGA WAKA A NGA TUUPUNA.
The only difference was that my oars were replaced with wings and it travelled much faster than that of the ancestors.

KA AWHI AU I A AOTEAROA, KA AWHI MAI A AOTEAROA I A AU, I TENEI RA KO AU TENEI KUA PUAWAI.
But as I embraced New Zealand, it embraced me back, and nurtured me into what I have become.

I TENEI RA,KA MINAMINA AU KI TE KII.. NOOKU ANO HOKI TENEI WHENUA, NOOKU HOKI TENEI TURANGAWAEWAE.
Today I can honestly identify myself as being a New Zealander, and Aotearoa being my home..

NO REIRA KUA TAE MAI TE WAA HEI WHAKAUTU KI TE MOTU I TAANA I HOMAI AI KI A AU.
Therefore the opportunity to give back to New Zealand what it has given to me has come to hand

New Zealand is indeed a land of many people of diverse cultures and heritage. And I’m proud to be representing the third largest Asian population in New Zealand. It was reported before the elections that only two percent of the 40,000 Korean population voted in previous elections. If the support I received during the campaign is any indication – I’d say 100% of the Korean Kiwis – aka – Kowis – voted on November 8th and I’d like to thank them regardless of which party they voted for. Because voting is the ultimate realisation that we live in a democracy.

The Korean settlement in New Zealand isn’t long and often I’m confronted by people’s misperception of Korea formed out of ignorance and often by television programmes like MASH. And when people have preconceived ideas of what you’re like – settlement into New Zealand can be paved with tears.

I remember a Korean migrant who had a visit from the police when the stench from dried cuttlefish – a Korean delicacy – raised the curiosity of her neighbours who jumped to the conclusion that she must have killed and buried her Kiwi husband to have produced such a foul smell.

But now, when I look around our cities I am pleased to see restaurants offering food from different cultures. And it isn’t just us black-haired people who frequent these premises. I’ve even been told by our Prime Minister that he likes KimChi – which is literally – fermented BokChoi – full of chilli and garlic – and according to one of my European friends – smells like sewage. Which is rather strange, as it smells comforting to me.

I am grateful NZ’s taste buds and sense of smell is evolving. The variety we have now makes us much more interesting than the era of big boil-ups. Thankfully, it’s not only our taste buds that have evolved.

When my parents left Korea more than 30 years ago to provide my brother John and I a brighter future, it took a lot of courage – the pioneering spirit New Zealanders value. And Courage was what ultimately brought my family to Aotearoa in 1988. Through failed businesses and lost opportunities, my parents worked harder than anyone I know to provide a good life for my brother and me. Never once did they complain about not getting a handout, nor did they ask for one from the government or anyone else. They took the personal responsibility for our family. It is something we learned from our childhood, and are in turn instilling in our own children to value.

I still remember our early days in Auckland. My day at the Sunday News as a young reporter would finish around 5pm, and while others went to the pub, I headed for my parent’s dairy in Grafton. We’d all work as a family till the shop closed at 11pm and then have supper together and drive home. A strong family bond was always fostered and maintained through my mother’s strong leadership. My story isn’t unique – it is the story of thousands of Asian migrants who have come before me and who will come here in the future. Who now make up about 10% of New Zealand’s population.

Family is also the foundation in which NZ was built. As a mother raising a 10 year old boy – I’ve become frightened for all children growing up in NZ in the past decade. I wish there were more parents like mine who would go the extra distance. But New Zealand has had a shameful record when it comes to our children and there have been some pitiful examples of parents and caregivers.

I was overjoyed to hear of the convictions of Wiremu and Michael Curtis at the Rotorua High Court recently for the murder of 3 year old Nia Glassie. And of the conviction of Nia’s mother Lisa Kuka. No child should have gone through what Nia did, and no child should ever in the future.

More shocking than the abuse and the murder of Nia was the fact that neighbours, friends, family who knew what was going on, turned a blind eye to the horrific abuse this innocent child suffered at the hands of these monsters. It is indeed a sad indictment on our country.

It was also very pleasing to read about the arrest made for the killing of Octogenarian Madam Yang who died in her home earlier this year. What she must have gone through… the fear, the violence and her eventual death, I can only but imagine. As a victim of a home invasion myself who was confronted by two men wearing balaclavas with a gun and a hammer – I don’t feel safe in my own home, let alone on the streets.

More than 10,000 people took to the streets to march against violence in South Auckland earlier this year – it is my hope that their voices are heard and repaid with a tougher stance against criminals in this country. It is not right that Madam Yang had to die in her own home where she should have had her safety guaranteed. It is not right that little Nia Glassie died at the hands of people who should have protected and cared for her. It is our duty as a nation to provide safety in our homes and in our communities. It is a priority that we must deliver as law makers – in my view.

Our children are our future. But instead of teaching them to become achievers, we are teaching them it’s okay to be losers. Instead of teaching them the value of hard work and the satisfaction that comes with it, we’re teaching them not to bother because the government is always there with an opened purse – promoting government-funded dependence. Instead of reporting unspeakable crimes like that inflicted upon Nia Glassie, people are cowering behind closed curtains for fear they’d be accused of meddling. Instead of celebrating our New Zealand identity, our children are growing up lost between American, British and Australian television programmes which dominate our airwaves because we’re too frightened to put a stake in the ground to say “this is who we are”.

As a child, when I needed to find some information, I turned to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Now, children turn to Google. We must use technology to foster the New Zealand Identity our children so lack and need. We must use television, radio, and the internet, to empower them– to make them understand who they are and where they stand in the world; to make them stand proud to be Kiwis – regardless of what their ethnic heritage may be.

There must be a mandate to provide and support local programming to foster these identity issues. Because without it, our children will never be empowered. Take a look at South Auckland. It seems absurd to me that people who should feel proud of their Pasifika and Maori cultures should feel proud to display the ghetto culture of America.

New Zealand is a young country compared to the country I was born in. Korea has a 5000-year old history – but it doesn’t mean we New Zealanders can’t feel proud of our heritage. I may not have been born here, I may not even have been brought up here. But, I’ve made a commitment to become a New Zealand citizen, and am a proud carrier of a New Zealand passport. That is a privilege. And I proudly call myself a Kiwi.

But not all New Zealanders would accept that I’m a Kiwi – because of my skin colour. I will forever be a foreigner. This must change. We are far too small a nation to be divisive. We must work together to decide who we are as a nation and work together to achieve where we want to be in the future.

We’ve had some brilliant moments in history where we’ve led the world. NZ was first country to give women the vote. It was New Zealander Ernest Rutherford who split the atom. And the late Sir Edmund Hillary ….We’ve also produced bands and actors over the years– some of whom Australia insists are theirs.

There are many others. Film directors, Peter Jackson, Andrew Adamson, Vincent Ward – far too many to mention – all working hard and placing NZ on the world map. We should not only applaud their successes – we should celebrate it. And build a nation these global Kiwis would feel proud coming home to.

Many people have asked me why I put my name forward to be selected by the National Party. As a journalist of 20 years, it wasn’t possible for me to show my political leanings, although close friends and family have known for a long time.

The reason I decided to come out – so to speak – was because I felt the need to have a say in shaping the future of New Zealand. With my 20 year career in journalism and business – I feel I come equipped with some life experience.

To close, I’d like to thank some very special people in my life. My mother, Min-Ja LEE – thank you for always encouraging me that there isn’t anything I can’t achieve.

My dad, Peter LEE – for your hard work to give John and me the best opportunity in life.

To my son Ethan Chul Hawke – Your campaigning impressed me – when I didn’t asked you to. I want to work hard so I can become a good role model for you. I hope I’ll make you proud.

뉴질랜드 한국 교민 여러분 그리고 전 세계에 계시는 동포 여러분 – 그동안 저에게 보내주신 성원 감사드립니다. 그동안 저에게 보내주신 격려는 저에게 피는 물보다 진하다는 것을 새삼 느끼게 해주셨습니다. 이제 최초의 한국계 뉴질랜드 국회의원으로서 조심스럽게 첫 발을 내딛으면서, 제가 5,000년의 역사를 가진 대한민국의 딸이라는 사실과 한국 교민 공동체가 제 뒤에서 저를 응원해 주시고 계신다는 것을 항상 기억할 것입니다.

(translation = To the Korean community in New Zealand and Koreans all around the globe – thank you for your support and encouragement. Your emails and phone calls of support came simply by virtue of our shared heritage and I am humbled. I’m grateful that the Korean community is always behind me to support me, as I take my baby steps as the very first New Zealand Member of Parliament of Korean heritage.)

Last but not least to my God. I know you are always beside me to guide me.

Mr Speaker, it is a great honour, and a privilege, to be in this House as a Member of Parliament and I pledge to do my very best.

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18 Responses to “Praise for maiden speeches”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Video of Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Video/Politics/tabid/370/articleID/83539/cat/67/Default.aspx#video

    And of Melissa Lee:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Video/Politics/tabid/370/articleID/83537/cat/67/Default.aspx#video

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  2. Frank (320 comments) says:

    Most impressive and some home truths bang on target

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  3. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    Re Labour members not crossing the floor to congratulate the speakers – if Labour wishes to continue in such a vindictive and confrontational way – fine by me – it will help them remain on Opposition benches in 2011. However I do hope National MP’s and especially Ministers do not catch the bug – but it can be hard to shake off when one has been exposed to it for the last nine years.

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  4. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    David’s post really said it all ….. and after them we were ‘treated’ to Phil Goof. Increasingly he reminds me of that character in Allan Durys excellent series of novels on US politics ….. “Slightly Unctuous” but others may have more apt descriptions of him.

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  5. Inventory2 (10,339 comments) says:

    Outstanding speeches from two outstanding new MP’s – let’s not just place too many expectations on them in their first week though.

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  6. daveski (87 comments) says:

    I noted on The Other Channel that AYB’s post was a worrying development – IMO the Left had failed to constructively analyse the reasons why they lost apart from blaming the MSM conspiracy. Hey, no one makes you buy the NZH but we all pay for National Radio ;)

    National has done a great job of trying to broaden its supporter base. The example of these two new MPs along with the constructive relationship with the Maori Party are reasons why National got elected.

    Let’s just hope The Other Channel returns to blame mode rather than thoughtful analysis!

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  7. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    I’m sorry people, I just cannot join in this celebration of “racial diversity”. I think it is going down the wrong track. I think it shows an incorrect focus. I think it is PC nonsense. I congratulate any MP who makes it through the election process and into Parliament. Good on everyone on both sides of the house. As for your race, I couldn’t give a stuff. I just want you to do your damn job.

    Preferably to cut taxes and reduce the size of government.

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  8. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    I’m cheering on Melissa Lee.

    Asian immigration has been a blessing for this country.

    Google “Antony Young”. This guy is one of the best New Zealanders I know. He is one of many Asians who refer to themselves with pride as “Bananas”; yellow on the outside, white on the inside. They held a conference in Auckland a couple of years ago, called the “Going Bananas” conference.

    They work hard, take responsibility for themselves, achieve, bring up kids to do the same, their marriages stay intact, almost none of them are a net drain on the country’s finances, they assimilate into our culture, they do not agitate for special treatment for their own culture, they left that behind, and they don’t WANT the stuff they left behind to follow them here. Contrast the attitude of the great majority of Asians here, to the attitude of the great majority of Muslims in all the European nations where they are a mounting problem now.

    Not that we haven’t got a whole lot of Cultural Marxist white ants in our institutions who despise our own culture and badly WANT immigrant cultures to rock the boat; the Asian “bananas” are a severe disappointment to them.

    I wish the “bananas” a resounding victory in the culture wars that are being played out in our society.

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  9. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    # Redbaiter (4730) Vote: Add rating 2 Subtract rating 2 Says:
    December 10th, 2008 at 10:47 am

    “I’m sorry people, I just cannot join in this celebration of “racial diversity”. I think it is going down the wrong track. I think it shows an incorrect focus. I think it is PC nonsense. I congratulate any MP who makes it through the election process and into Parliament. Good on everyone on both sides of the house. As for your race, I couldn’t give a stuff. I just want you to do your damn job.

    Preferably to cut taxes and reduce the size of government.”

    I agree that “diversity” is going down the wrong track but I presume, Redbaiter, that you would agree with what I just said above. The willing assimilation into our culture on the part of the greater majority of Asian immigrants, and their energetic and positive contribution to our social strength, is like a victory for humanity. Melissa Lee’s speech is just incredible, tears to the eyes stuff as far as I’m concerned; here’s a recent immigrant telling us how she feels about crime and murdered kids. It’s not the culture she and her parents moved to this country to partake in the blessings of, that has brought these shames about, and she does well to make a cause celebre of it.

    And what’s more, if I was a betting man I’d put money on it that a whole parliament of NZ Asians WOULD give us much smaller government and lower taxes along with getting tough on crime and the causes of social breakdown. A whole parliament of NZ Asians would do a whole lot better job than the wishy washy apostates that run NZ, they’d actually restore our culture…..

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  10. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Phil, I’ve always said that NZ could benefit greatly from a few years under Lee Kuan Yew.

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  11. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    OK, Redbaiter, we’re on the same page…….

    Sorry, I forgot to make the point before that CUISINE is an exceptional, perhaps the only, area in which “multiculturalism” is a “plus”. I’d hate a world of meat-and-3-boiled-veg evening meals, weetbix breakfasts and cut-bread lunches.

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  12. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Lee Kuan Yew, bloody hell, all those Nat socialists would be upset :-)
    Well done to that lass for having the confidence to speak in Maori in the house.
    Amusing how few native born MPs bother even trying.
    Of course being a miserable old bugger I have to ask why none of them used our third official language.

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  13. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    well said Philbest Another post right on the button We freedom fighters can now speak up and speak out and celebrate the Asian people who as you say work so hard, maintain their culture but also fit in with us.

    yes sadly the contrast with the ‘others” is stark. No contribution hands out dispise our culture and demand we change to meet their demands

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  14. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    All very good, worthy stuff. Nevertheless, I wonder how Melissa Lee would reconcile National’s long-held goal of getting rid of the maori seats, with

    “the National Party’s vision, to make our parliament more diverse and truly representative of the population that now make up our country”?

    [DPF: National with seven Maori MPs has shown how you can do it, with no need for race based seats]

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  15. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    More partisan dribble for the Standard. Christ why do these munters even bother. Credibility = zero

    [DPF: If you read what they said, they were in fact not being partisan, which was nice]

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  16. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    It’s a race-based country, with a race-based history. Who were the parties at the Treaty of Waitangi?

    Criticising the Maori seats as “racist” is all very well from a libertarian point of view, but to do so you have to pretty wilfully ignore the history of this country and the very definitely race-based wars and power struggles [and land thefts] there have been.

    [DPF: And we see Fiji as an example of what happens if you continue to divide seats by ethnicity. You also fail to understand the massive difference between Maori self-organising voluntarily as a party such as the Maori Party do, and between the state having separate electoral rolls for NZers based on the racial makeup of your ancestors]

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  17. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    DPF: “You also fail to understand the massive difference between Maori self-organising voluntarily as a party such as the Maori Party do, and between the state having separate electoral rolls for NZers based on the racial makeup of your ancestors”

    No, I don’t. I so, SO don’t!
    I would say we are very lucky here in that the examples of Fiji, Nazi Germany et al simply don’t seem to apply here. Foreigners I know are always telling me how lucky we are to have a country where there are distinct racial groups, but we have (their words) “no racial issues.” You just don’t see violent separatist ideals or racial hatred being espoused here, do you? I don’t understand why this is. But after watching an episode of Bro’Town you feel like you almost know.

    And look at the kinds of protest action we have seen from Maori groups, from Parihaka right through to modern times. Look at Bastion Point or the way the foreshore & seabed Hikoi was organised. Look at the way the Maori Party conduct themselves, with their consultation Huis amongst their voters. Look at the way young Maori radicals are always kept in check by their elders who are content to play a longer game using the (English-derived) legal process that they know they signed up for with the Treaty. No bombs. No guns. No internet beheadings. What we have would be utopia in a lot of people’s eyes.

    In this sort of climate, the Maori seats cost so little, and appear to mean so much to Maori. Why risk upsetting the apple-cart? Because it offend Don Brash’s idea of what a democracy should be like? Please. I like the guy but I don’t believe our democracy is so weak that having 7 Maori seats puts it all at risk.

    Or maybe it’s just that (in the words of an American I know) everything’s cool here because the stakes are just so much lower” :-)

    [DPF: Yes we are lucky to have so many good things about our country. But race based seats remain an inappropriate way of organising our electoral system. The Royal Commission on MMP had a superior way of looking after Maori representation]

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  18. calendar girl (1,232 comments) says:

    “I don’t believe our democracy is so weak that having 7 Maori seats puts it all at risk.”

    While I’m in favour of eliminating the Maori seats within a realistic timeframe, I could almost accept your statement and live with the compromise of principle to avoid the inevitable angst if it weren’t for the inexorable increase in the number of Maori electorates. It was until only a short time ago (mid-1990s) that the number was fixed at four. Now we have a population-based formula that adds extra Maori electorates from time to time.

    However, enrolled voter numbers in the Maori electorates are flawed, based as they are on choices of people who “identify as Maori”, i.e. it can be an entirely subjective matter unrelated to any Maori heritage or any material / minimum proportion of Maori blood. That is about as logical as my being able to enrol in the general electorate bordering the one in which I live, based purely on my professed “identification” with that alternative electorate. Both sets of circumstances could lend themselves to manipulation of elections.

    So I remain with the basic principle, that all NZers should be treated equally. We should be enrolled as voters, with neither privilege or disadvantage, to be allocated to electorates corresponding to our places of residence. Presently it is wrong that most people have no option as to their allocated electorate (unless they move home!) whereas others can chose at whim between two different electorates.

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