Maori Youth

May 11th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman reported:

The reform being pushed through by Tolley is perhaps the most far-reaching undertaken by the Govt and could stand as its greatest legacy if it achieves its goals. Already it has made some headway in improving the lives of Maori children who are more than twice as likely as Pakeha children to grow up in households experiencing hardship, and fare worse in most indicators.

A report by the University of Otago-based Child and Youth Epidemiology Service shows increasing numbers of Maori pre schoolers are getting early childhood education. There’s also been a halving of school suspensions for Maori students, an increase in immunisation rates, fewer young Maori smoking,and falling hospitalisation rates for Maori children for injuries from assault, neglect or maltreatment.

That’s promising.

The report is here. Some extracts:

  • A drop from 2010 to 2013 of Maori children living in relative poverty using the measure of below 60% of the contemporary median income, after housing costs
  • 17% of Maori children in “material hardship” down from 21% in 2011
  • The proportion of Māori new entrants reporting participation in ECE prior to school entry increased, from 83.6% in 2001 to 96.3% in 2013.
  • Suspension rates for Māori students falling from 18.8 per 1,000 in 2000, to 9.1per 1,000 in 2013.
  • Medical admissions with a social gradient in Māori children increased from 2000 to 2001, remained steady through to 2007, increased from 2007 to 2009, remained steady until 2012, and fell from 2012 to 2013 to reach a level similar to that seen in 2001–2007. In contrast, injury admissions with a social gradient fluctuated from year to year in the early 2000s and followed a downward trend from 2006 to 2013.
  • During 2000–2013, Māori children’s admission rates for injuries due to assault, neglect of maltreatment increased from 2002–2003 to 2008–09, and then declined
  • During 2000–2013, Māori young people’s admission rates for injuries due to assault were variable. The rate for 2013 was the lowest in the whole period.

To paraphrase Life of Brian’s “What did the Romans ever do for us except …”, you might ask “What did National ever do for Maori except ….”

Speaking but not voting rights

May 9th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Wairarapa council has approved the appointment of unelected iwi representatives, with voting rights, to its standing committees.

Masterton District Council voted on Wednesday to appoint representatives from Wairarapa’s two iwi, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitane o Wairarapa, each with speaking and voting rights, to its policy and finance, and audit and risk, committees.

They also have speaking rights at full council meetings, which ratify the recommendations from the two standing committees.

I think it can be a good thing to have Iwi representatives as non-voting members of appropriate Council committees, or even of the Council. It can be an effective way to make sure they are consulted. I think Iwi do have special interests in certain areas of natural resources.

But I am totally against voting rights. Doing so undermines democracy. You should not have unelected people voting which means a majority vote may only be achieved because of them.

New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study on why they asked the Maori special treatment question

March 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The 15 researchers involved in the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study have done a statement explaining why they have asked the questions they did for the TVNZ study. The key part is:

It is important to scientifically measure and track change in racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice over time. This is the only way to know how many people hold such beliefs, and to see if racism is going up or down over time.

The typical way that researchers measure racism is by presenting people with a set of statements of opinion and asking them to rate how strongly they agree or disagree with each statement. This is known as a Likert scale. A lot goes on behind the scenes in developing the Likert scales used in the New Zealand Attitudes and Value Study (NZAVS).

The key to attitude measurement is to have a good set of statements that measure the underlying attitude. There are a number of things to consider here. For a start you need statements that are worded in each direction, for example, “People from group X cannot be trusted” and “People from group X are trustworthy.” This is to control for something called agreement bias, where people may tend to agree with things a bit more than they disagree. Some people may read the statements in the negatively worded direction “People from group X cannot be trusted” and argue that the statement itself is offensive and hence the survey itself is racist.

If we want to do the science well, and measure attitudes validly and reliably, then we need to include statements like these in our surveys. A good metaphor for this is that a set of statements is like a ruler that measures an attitude. You need to get your ruler straight. If we can’t get our ruler straight then we can’t measure levels of racism scientifically, and in that case we can’t know whether we have a problem with prejudice in our country, or whether it is going up or down over time.

Those politicians and activists attacking the study are basically anti-science. It is part of the culture of offence where they think their right not to be offended by a question is more important than finding out if people agree with it.

Some of the critics don’t even seem to know the difference between “treatment” and “outcomes”, such as Oscar Kightley who wrote:

I can’t believe there’s a survey question that asks whether Kiwis think Maori get special treatment – of course they do.

Everyone’s at their wits’ end  over all the special treatment they get.  

Maori comprise around 15 per cent of the population; one in seven citizens, about 700,000 people.

And yet just look at our institutions, which are overwhelmed by the multitudes of Maori doctors, lawyers, professors, bankers, directors, politicians, and high-ranking businessmen and women.

They’re clearly all fed with a silver spoon and clothed in nappies of woven gold thread as soon as they begin their lives of privilege.

Look at our prisons, where there are absolutely no Maori people at all.  Mind you, one of the big drivers of crime is poverty, so it’s no wonder there are no Maori in jail.

Everything Kightley mentions (which is correct) is about outcomes. That is very different to receiving special treatment (and it is beyond dispute that Maori do – such as Maori seats).

The political issue is whether the special treatment is justified by the fact Maori have less favourable outcomes. That is a debatable issue.

UPDATE: I’m told this study is different to the TVNZ one, but the arguments are the same.

Maori businesses see TPP gains

February 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Some Maori business leaders say there are risks with the Trans Pacific Partnership, but people should look at it again to see the benefits it offers for the Maori economy. …

The Maori economy has been estimated at $40 billion and Auckland lawyer Paul Majurey, chair of the Hauraki Collective, said Pare Hauraki’s fishing and aquaculture assets would benefit and the trust was supportive of the deal.

It already exported to China and Japan and the TPP would open access to Japan where fish products faced stiff tariffs.

The agreement would also allow Maori to form partnerships with investors from those countries, as happened under the China FTA.

He said there were risks and it was natural Maori would be concerned about sovereignty and the erosion of Treaty of Waitangi rights.

“There are issues and question marks with any international agreement that involves our sovereignty.”

He said the TPP protected the Treaty and reserved the right to protect rights to traditional knowledge and plants, according to the Wai 262 finding. …

Traci Houpapa, the chair of the Federation of Maori Authorities (Foma), said the TPP had obvious benefits for Maori exporters and businesses and that would flow through to communities.

She said New Zealand could not miss the chance to sit with global heavyweights such as the US and Japan, and hoped consultation on the agreement over coming months would provide Maori with assurances about the Treaty partnership.

“People are wanting assurances that partnership is in place and isn’t impacted by the TPP.”

She was comfortable that other trade agreements had upheld the Treaty.

“And our expectation is this Government will do the same,” she said.

She said New Zealand was the only country with protections for indigenous rights in the trade agreement.

Yep as I previously blogged, NZ is the only country that got indigenous rights protected in TPP, and the wording in TPP is near identical to the China FTA that Labour signed.

Jamie Whyte on race based law

July 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte has done a speech on the place of race in the law. Some people will react kneejerk against it and say it is Maori bashing, but I actually think he makes his points by avoiding inflammatory rhetoric, and focusing on principles and outcomes.  Some extracts:

David Cunliffe recently apologised to a Women’s Refuge symposium:

“I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man … because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

The Prime Minister accused Cunliffe of being insincere. Maybe he was.

Or maybe not. The apology conforms to Labour party thinking. Whereas we in ACT believe in personal responsibility, the Labour party believes in collective responsibility.

Those who believe in collective responsibility see people not so much as individuals but as members of groups: men and women, gays and heterosexuals, the rich and the poor, Maori and Pakeha.

For example, the Labour Party has a rule that half the people on their list must be women. This is intended to ensure equal parliamentary representation for women.

Labour believes that a man cannot represent a woman in parliament, even if she votes for him. And that a woman automatically represents other women, even if they did not vote for her or disagree with her. All that matters is group membership.

Similarly, Cunliffe believes he is responsible for sexual violence, even though has never perpetrated any, simply because he is a man.

This “identity politics” comes easily to many people. It is a way of thinking with ancient roots in mankind’s tribal history.

Nevertheless, it is ugly. It is the mindset that lies behind such obscenities as collective punishment and clan feuding.

Identity politics is one reason I could never vote left. I am socially liberal on a fair few issues, but I firmly believe in treating people as individuals, not just as members of a gender, race or other identity.

Alas, the principle that the law should be impartial has never been fully embraced in New Zealand. Even today, after any number of equal rights movements, New Zealand law makes a citizen’s rights depend on her race.

The reparations made to iwi by the Waitangi Tribunal are NOT an example of this. The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori property rights over the land they occupied. Many violations of these rights followed. The remedies provided by the Waitangi Tribunal are not a case of race-based favouritism. They are recognition of property rights and, therefore, something that we in ACT wholeheartedly support.

Good to have that stated. I strongly support them also.

Many people have opinions about what other people should do with their property. Under the Resource Management Act, how much weight your opinion carries depends on your race. If you are Maori, you have a say on these matters that others lack.

Some state run or state directed organisations openly practice race-based favouritism. I know a woman who has raised children by two fathers, one Pakeha and the other Maori. If her Pakeha son wants to attend law school at Auckland University, he will have to get much higher grades than her Maori son.

That’s a good example. They are raised by the same mother in the same household, with the same access to opportunities. But the blood line of their fathers gives one of them a privilege the other does not have.

The question is why race-based laws are tolerated, not just by the Maori and Internet-Mana Parties, but by National, Labour and the Greens.

I suspect the reason is confusion about privilege.

Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.

But, of course, in our ordinary use of the word, it is absurd to say that Maori are privileged. The average life expectancy of Maori is significantly lower than Pakeha and Asian. Average incomes are lower. Average educational achievement is lower.

Again it is good he stated this. Overall Maori are not privileged. They do worse in most areas we deem important. But just because they are under-privileged in many areas, does not mean it is incorrect to say they have some special legal privileges.

Legal privilege offends people less when the beneficiaries are not materially privileged, when they are generally poorer than those at a legal disadvantage.

Absolutely. The argument is you use legal privilege to try and compensate for the lack of privilege in other areas. But is that a good idea?

Apparently, many people do need to be reminded why the principle of legal equality is important.

It is important because, without it, society becomes a racket.

When people are equal before the law, they can get ahead only by offering other people goods or services that they value. We are all playing to the same rules, and we do well only if we “deliver the goods”. This promotes not only economic growth and prosperity but civility. It forces people to attend to the preferences of others.

Where people enjoy legal privilege, by contrast, they can get ahead without doing anything of value for other people. Because the system is rigged in their favour, they don’t need to “deliver the goods”.

Suppose, for example, that the government decided that Japanese women deserved a legal privilege. They should be allowed to erect barriers across the roads they live on. Anyone wanting to proceed down the road must negotiate with these women to get the barriers lifted.

This would provide Japanese women with an opportunity to make easy money by charging people a fee to lift their barriers. It would thereby divert them from productive occupations. It would drive up the cost of travelling around the city, as people either took longer routes or paid the fees. And it would create feelings of resentment towards Japanese women.

This may sound fanciful. But it is precisely the situation that the Resource Management Act (RMA) has created with regard to resource consents and iwi. If you want to proceed with developing land near iwi, you may well have to pay iwi for permission to proceed. That easy money diverts Maori from more productive activity, drives up the cost of developing land and creates resentment towards Maori.

This is sadly true. It incentivises some Iwi to make money from opposing developments, rather than encouraging them to be involved in their own. Of course not true in all cases, such as Ngai Tahu.

Nor does legal privilege do Maori any good over the long-run.

Allow me another analogy. Imagine that SANZAR, the body that administers the Super 15, decided that the Blues deserved a legal privilege. Whereas all the other teams will continue to earn 5 points for a try, the Blues will earn 10.

This would benefit Blues players over the short-term. They would win many more games than they now do. But giving the Blues this advantage in the rules would reduce their incentive to work hard on their skills and fitness. After a while, standards of play at the Blues would decline. Fewer Blues players would be selected for the All Blacks.

Return to those half-brothers I mentioned earlier: one Pakeha who will need an “A” to get into law school, one Maori who will need only a “C”. Which one is more likely to work hard at school? Which one is more likely to make the most of his potential?

Such scheme are very well intended, but I share the concern that they do more harm than good in the long run.

Maori offending

July 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The prison system has achieved little in lowering the rate of Maori offending and a century of appalling Maori crime statistics shows no sign of abating, according to an iwi justice advocate.

That is because generally the role of the prison system is to protect the community, not lower offending. Lowering offending is important, but that involves drug and alcohol counselling, education, rehabilitation programmes and the like. Some of that can be done through prisons, but again the primary role of prisons is to keep the community safe.

A joint police and iwi justice programme in Wellington that aims to reduce Maori crime statistics was presented to the Maori King Tuheitia and his pan-tribal council Tekau-maa-rua in Ngaruawahia yesterday.

Chair of the iwi justice panel at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt, Neville Baker, said the current system had failed Maori for decades and the systems needed to change.

“Maori have been incarcerated for 100 years and we are getting worse so why would we want to continue with the prison system,” said Baker.

It’s great to see a focus on reducing offending. I would point out that the trend is actually positive. The Herald reported last year:

A progress report on the Government’s crime prevention programme shows Maori youth offending down by 32 per cent over three years.

The Drivers of Crime programme, launched in December 2009, brings together crime prevention work of the justice and social sector.

The latest report shows offending rates for Maori youth between 2008 and 2012 dropped 32 per cent.

Youth offending is probably the most important to target.

There has also been a small decrease in the number of Maori in prison – a 3.6% reduction from March 2011 (4,483) to to March 2014 (4,320).

Still a huge amount more to be done, but the solutions are not as simple as just saying less prison. If an offender’s crimes are serious enough or repetitive enough, the protecting the community comes first.

Fairfax missing some Maori MPs

June 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Fairfax says (correctly) few Maori Mps have been elected in general seats. However they miss a few out.

Elected Maori Members of Parliament in NZ, excluding Maori electorates

1993: Sandra Rose Te Hakamatua Lee-Vercoe,  Auckland Central; Winston Peters, Tauranga

1996: Winston Peters, Tauranga

1999: Georgina Beyer, Wairarapa; Winston Peters, Tauranga

2002: Winston Peters, Tauranga

2008: Paula Lee Bennett, Waitakere.

2011: Paula Lee Bennett, Waitakere; Louisa Hareruia Wall, Manurewa

They missed out Simon Bridges (Tauranga), Mike Sabin (Northland) and Jami-Lee Ross (Botany).

UPDATE: Also missed out Ben Couch (Wairarapa) and Rex Austin (Awarua off memory). Also Sir James Carroll (Waiapu).

Maori views on culture

May 8th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Some interesting data from Stats NZ on Maori culture and language.

  • 46% of Maori say engagement in Maori culture is quite or very important to them
  • 49% say spirituality is quite or very important to them, ranging from 38% for under 25s to 62% for over 55s
  • 29% say religion important
  • 89% say tribal identity important
  • 58% have been to a marae in last year
  • 75% watched a Maori TV programme and 34% a Maori radio station
  • 15% have a moko
  • 11% can speak Te reo well and and only 2.6% say it is their main language at home
  • 34% say things are getting better for their whanau and only 12% worse
  • 83% say their whanau are well off and just 6% not well off
  • 95% say whanau includes parents, children, partner and siblings
  • 41% say also includes aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, in-laws

Pleasing to see most whanau are so well off, and many improving. Also interesting how tribal identity most important, then spirituality and culture followed by religion.

No need for compulsory Maori?

April 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by Jadis

A café on Waiheke Island has come up with a novel way to increase the use of te reo and it isn’t compulsory to use it but will save you some money.

On a Sunday, you can arrive at 8.30am, right at opening time, and by 8.35am there is a queue of locals out the door, waiting for their freshly baked hot cross buns, patisserie, artisan breads and hot, steaming drinks.

And if you say “He kawhe maku”, instead of “I’d like a coffee”, you’ll get 50c off for your trouble.

Owner Patrick Griffiths says the idea of introducing Maori is to support people to learn the language at whatever level they want, and to feel comfortable about it.

He and his wife Hinemoa have been studying te reo for seven years.

“If you want to speak Italian you can go to Italy and immerse yourself in the language but there’s no place you can really go to speak te reo Maori.

“It’s one of our three official languages and is a taonga – it’s very precious.”

Sure, it is on the very liberal Waiheke Island but it sure is a more interesting and fun way to encourage people to use everyday, conversational Maori.

Dom Post on Ratana

January 27th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The only question now is: how many seats will the Maori Party lose this year? The party has lost the main reason for its being, which was the repeal Labour’s foreshore and seabed legislation. It has not really found another central cause to replace it. It is losing its two most distinguished politicians, Dr Sharples and Tariana Turia. And it has suffered the slow suffocation that all small parties suffer when they get into bed with a larger one.

The Maori Party may well lose one or even two electorate seats, but it is worth reflecting that if they lost two, then their party vote last time was high enough that they would have gained a list seat.

As the Maori middle class grows, it will produce more National supporters. At present, National’s share of the Maori vote remains small, of course, but it will rise, just as the Black Republican vote in the United States has increased. 

National picks up more support from Maori on the general roll than the Maori roll, but only post-election polls pick this up. In terms of the Maori seats, the records are:

  • 1996 – 6.1%
  • 1999 – 5.7%
  • 2002 – 4.2%
  • 2005 – 4.3%
  • 2008 – 7.4%
  • 2011 – 8.6%

So very modest increases.  But much better than the US where in fact black Republican vote has been declining (except for 2004).

And already we have seen a notable rise in the number of National Maori MPs in the general seats – a trend which might have been encouraged by the link between National and the Maori Party.

National’s 9th Maori MP is sworn in this week – Jo Hayes. The breakdown of Maori MPs by type of seat is interesting.

  • Maori Seats – 7 – Labour 3, Maori Party 3, Mana 1
  • List Seats – 12 – National 5, Greens 3, Labour 2, NZ First 2
  • General Seats – 6 – National 4, Labour 2

It is MMP, however, which has had the most dramatic effect on Maori representation in parliament. The share of MPs of Maori descent in the house is now greater than the proportion of Maori in the wider population. This increase is wholly good, because it means the Maori voice is better heard in the national marae. 

The proportion is now 20.7% of Parliament are Maori. This compares to Maori being 14.1% of the overall population and just 11.3% of the adult population. So that is a very significant over-representation.

Some argue that we no longer need the Maori seats as a result, and indeed the Royal Commission which recommended MMP also believed the Maori seats would not be needed.

This may indeed be true, but it may be better to put off abolition until a majority of Maori approve it. 

I agree abolition should only happen by consent, but surely it is time to start that conversation, and even have a referendum among Maori on whether they wish to retain the Maori seats, bearing in mind how over-represented Maori MPs now are in Parliament.

Always about the money

January 11th, 2014 at 9:40 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Visitors to the Bay of Islands this week were handed leaflets on the wharf at Paihia urging them not to take the famed trip to the Hole in the Rock at Motu Kokako, Piercy Island. The Motu Kokako Ahu Whenua Trust complains that the boat operators are not telling tourists the correct history of the island and its significance to Ngapuhi.

That is a legitimate complaint.

The trust also wants a payment for the attraction.

That isn’t.

Our mana is being trampled on by these operators,” said chairman Rau Hoskins.

But $3 a trip will heal that mana.

If the three companies running boats through the Hole in the Rock do not enter negotiations, the trust says, it will block the entrance in some way. “The idea that anyone can claim ownership of a natural waterway is foreign to most people in New Zealand and to its law. But it is not foreign to Maori custom, as was evident in the foreshore and seabed claim and the challenge to the sale of hydro-power companies. It is an issue the country needs to resolve once and for all.

You can’t legislate away a difference of opinion. The legal status is clear however.

When Fullers had the attraction to itself, it agreed to pay a portion of each fare to the trust. When competition arrived, Fullers made common cause with the trust and took a rival operator to court on a claim of trespass. The case failed, the High Court ruling that access to open sea could not be impeded under maritime law. Fullers then stopped paying the trust.

Fair enough.

Rather than seeking rent from the resource, they could be running tours themselves. If none of the existing operators are giving visitors the island’s authentic story in the trust’s view, the trust has a golden opportunity. Not all tourists want an indigenous cultural experience but many do. The trust could obtain a suitable vessel and offer a trip clearly different from its competitors.

That is a good idea.

Plunket on call for Maori sentences to be shorter

November 25th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Sean Plunket writes:

According to his online CV, lawyer James Rapley specialises in criminal defence litigation and has appeared as counsel in the District and High Courts on numerous high-profile trials involving serious fraud, drug, murder, sexual crimes and other crimes of violence. In May 2004, he began practice as a barrister after working as a senior prosecutor for the Serious Fraud Office and Crown Solicitor’s Office for nearly 10 years. …

He reckons Mika should get a 10 per cent reduction in his manslaughter sentence because he is a Maori.

Most New Zealanders, including most Maori, probably think that is complete bullshit.

I am sure most Maori would.

The High Court judge who sentenced Mika appeared to do so, for while he acknowledged Mika’s personal circumstances, he rejected Mr Rapley’s plea for leniency with these words: “in my view, however, the law in this country is clear that no special discount for race, culture, or ethnicity matters alone is appropriate”.

Sometimes judges can be really sensible.

But the Court of Appeal, which in legal terms is more important than, and senior to the High Court, was convinced by Mr Rapley to rehear his argument for a reduction in Mika’s sentence.

Three Court of Appeal judges considered that appeal this week and rather than reject it as bullshit as most people would, they have reserved their decision.

This may not be significant. I think almost all their decisions are reserved. My worry would be if it goes to the Supreme Court and what Dame Sian might try and convince her peers to find!

I am fairly certain that Mika wasn’t thinking about post-colonial oppression when he boosted a car and left his fatally injured passenger to die on the side of the road back in February and I’m pretty sure he was unaware of the disproportionate number of Maori in prison when he admitted his crimes in the High Court.

We can also safely assume that a 10 per cent reduction in his sentence will do nothing to reduce his chance of reoffending or encourage him to live a less antisocial life.

A 10% reduction in his sentence will I am sure be a 10% reduction in the time taken until he reoffends!

Should Maori get reduced sentences?

November 21st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Martin van Beynen writes in The Press:

Lawyer James Rapley, representing Fabian Mika, has certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest in arguing that Maori offenders are entitled to an automatic consideration of the history of the Maori people when sentenced.

The Mika argument appears to be as follows:

– Sentencing is largely governed by the Sentencing Act. The relevant section says the court must take into account the offender’s personal, family, whanau, community, and cultural background in imposing a sentence.

– The court must recognise Mika’s Maori (cultural) background.

– The cultural background section of the Sentencing Act is partly designed to address the overrepresentation of Maori in the prison population (about 51 per cent).

– In Canada, under different legislation, the courts take account of the fact an offender is from an indigenous background.

– Maori should have a special status to recognise them as victims of colonialism, displacement, high unemployment, lower educational attainment and a higher level of incarceration.

– Maori are not entitled to an automatic reduction in penalty, but the court must take their Maori background into account in a meaningful way.

– Maori do not need to show a link between their cultural background and the offending. The devastating effects of the historic and systemic discrimination and deprivation of Maori and its intergenerational effects on Maori should be a given.

It looks very much like an argument ahead of its time.

Although it’s a carefully nuanced train of thought, the argument will no doubt be treated as advocating a penalty discount just for being Maori.

Which it is.

Sentencing took take account of an individual’s circumstances, but arguing that every Maori offender should get a reduced sentence due to colonialism is pretty insane.

If the Mika argument was put into practice, sentencing judges would have to start with a consideration of the offender’s ethnicity, a fairly tangled question in itself.

If Maori, the judge would then have to consider how generations of deprivation or dysfunction have shaped this individual.

Sentencing would become a lottery.

If the court makes allowances for being Maori, then red heads or left handers or gays might also have a valid case for special treatment.

Many will criticise such allowances as damaging the important principle of everyone being equal before the law.

And it would damage it massively.

Should blood determine seats?

June 19th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Listener has a lengthy article based on a submission by Michael Littlewood to the constitutional review. Well worth buying the latest issue for the whole article. A few extracts:

In the past three years, I have been tracking down my family’s roots and I now know the names and origins of all 32 of my great-great-great (GGG) grandparents. Fifteen were from England, 10 from Ireland, four from Scotland, two from Wales and one, a Maori, from New Zealand. 

The individual form in the 2013 Census, like others before it, had three questions on race. Question 11 asked: “Which ethnic group do you belong to? Mark the space or spaces which apply to you: New Zealand European; Maori; Samoan; Cook Island Maori; Tongan; Niuean; Chinese; Indian; Other such as Dutch, Japanese, Tokelauan. Please state.” Based on the nationalities of my GGG grandparents, I suppose I should have chosen New Zealand European and Maori, but I really do not feel I “belong” to those “ethnic groups”. Given that “belong” is as much about perception as DNA, I chose Other and wrote “New Zealander”. 

But ticking that box has a great effect on policies and funding.

But what would they have made of my answer if I had chosen “New Zealand European” and “Maori” as I suspect they wanted? The significance of the answer to this ques- tion diminishes over generations. It is now irrelevant and it’s time the statisticians real- ised that. If your grandparents were born in New Zealand, perhaps even your parents, you are surely a New Zealander, regardless of your racial background. It’s wrong for the census to ask me ques- tions about my feelings, which is what question 11 really does. It’s also wrong for whatever reason to slice and dice New Zealanders according to their feelings about ethnicity. I understand the wish of statisticians to continue asking the same questions from census to census so they can look at changes over time, but it’s time to stop asking New Zealanders a question about their feelings on race. 

And he looks at the Maori seats:

Given the now extremely low threshold that establishes whether a New Zealander is Maori or not, it is hardly surprising that the number of Maori MPs representing electors on the general roll significantly exceeds the number of MPs in Maori seats. In 2013, 16 “Maori” MPs represent electors on the general roll compared with just seven separately elected Maori MPs.

I think the distinctions between Maori electors and others, and between Maori MPs and others, are now indefensible. I’m not suggesting we ignore public policy issues of direct concern to Maori. We do not need a female roll and female MPs to ensure issues of concern to women are addressed; nor do we need an Asian roll and Asian MPs to address the needs of the Asian com- munity. That there are still issues of concern to Maori does not justify a Maori roll and Maori MPs. In 1840, the Treaty signatories did not directly contemplate separate repre- sentation in a Parliament of New Zealanders, but even if they had, that is no justification to continue race-based separatism in 2013.

Sadly some people do push for there to be female quota MPs, and no doubt a female roll!

Praise for Metiria

June 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Since I blogged on it weekend before last, there has been a lot of comment and criticism on Rachel Smalley of The Nation asking Hekia Parata if she is a bitch to work for, and “How Maori are you?”.  Rachel herself has said she didn’t write the questions, and felt a bit uncomfortable with them. Of course she could have refused and said I’m not going to ask any guest if they are a bitch, unless I can ask male guests if they are a prick.

Anyway Brian Edwards has blogged in defence of Smalley, and Green co-leader Metiria Turei has responded:

I dont believe that the question Rachel Smalley asked of Hekia Parata: “How Maori are you”? was in anyway appropriate. I have a huge amount of respect for Brian Edwards and have read his blog which justifies Rachel’s question on the basis that was relevant to “Parata’s childhood and upbringing in a Maori family and Maori community”; that it produced a revealing and relevant response; that she handled it well and hasn’t complained.

The last three justifications are meaningless. It makes no difference to the appropriateness of the question whether she answered well or not, whether she complained or not. As to whether it was relevant to Parata’s childhood, that issue was canvassed earlier in the interview and could have been discussed more without forcing Hekia to justify her identity.

Thats what I have a problem with: Hekia was required by the question to justify her identity. The criteria Hekia then applied to herself is the criteria Maori have been forced to use to justify ourselves for decades: blood (whakapapa), language and whanau. It is a question based on New Zealand’s assimilationist history, when the degree of a persons “Maoriness” led to more or less entitlement, when being judged as having abandoned our cultural practices and language, we were therefore more like Pakeha and so more acceptable.

It is a grotesque irony that these days Maori are asked that question so that their right to speak on Maori issues can be judged, mostly by Pakeha, as legitimate or not.

I don’t agree with most of the policies Metiria puts forward, but I do respect her for criticising TV3 for the interview, despite the fact the question was to a political rival. It’s nice to put principle ahead of politics.

The latest poll of Maori voters

February 4th, 2013 at 4:24 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curiablog the results of the latest Te Karere Digipoll.

I read a column over the weekend about how the Maori Party was basically dead and they should accept Hone Harawira’s generous offer to let him become leader and merge with the Mana Party. With that in mind it is worth looking at what the results for each party.


33.5% party vote, with party vote on the Maori roll up 3.5% (from last poll in January 2012) and on the general roll (of Maori voters) down 13.1%.

On the electorate vote, Labour are 8.9% below what they got in the 2011 election.

Maori Party

27.5% party vote, with party vote on the Maori roll up 2.7% (from last poll in January 2012) and on the general roll (of Maori voters) up 7.7%.

On the electorate vote, Maori Party are 4.8% above what they got in the 2011 election.

Mana Party

5.7% party vote, with party vote on the Maori roll down 5.3% (from last poll in January 2012) and on the general roll (of Maori voters) up 0.2%.

On the electorate vote, Maori Party are 1.2% below what they got in the 2011 election.

David Shearer

They asked those Maori voters who said they would party vote Labour if they could name the Labour Party Leader. Only 34.7% could name David Shearer as Leader.

Of the 34.7% who could name him, they asked if they thought he was providing good leadership on Maori issues. Only 28.0% agreed.


Labour has gained some support on the party vote from Maori on the Maori roll, but on the electorate vote they are polling well below what they got even in 2011. Also they have had a drop off in support from Maori on the general roll.

The Maori Party has increased party vote support with Maori on both the general and Maori rolls, and are polling higher in the electorate vote than they got in 2011.

The Mana Party has almost halved its party vote support from Maori on the Maori roll, and has also dropped in electorate vote support from 2011.

Two elements of caution. Maori voters tend to be harder to poll than non-Maori, so there is a greater chance of sampling errors which can impact accuracy. Also tensions around the Maori Party leadership occurred during the polling period and may not be fully reflected.

However even with those cautionary notes, I would say that those writing off the Maori Party are incredibly premature.  The poll shows they have retained and grown support, while Labour and Mana have stagnated or dropped.

Dom Post on water claim

September 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The exact date of Maori arrival in New Zealand is a mystery, although carbon dating and Maori oral tradition point to the 13th century. About one thing, however, there is no doubt. Contrary to the impression created by the bellicose posturing of the Maori king, Maori have not ”always owned the water”.

Scientists estimate New Zealand broke away from the Gondwana supercontinent about 85 million years ago. Give or take a few hundred millennia, that means Maori have inhabited the country for about 0.0009 per cent of the time it has existed as a distinct entity. Rain fell from the skies, coursed down the hills and found its way into rivers, streams and lakes for millions of years before Maori first hauled their canoes up onto beaches, and will continue to do so long after humanity has ceased to exist. Claiming ownership of the water is about as foolish as claiming ownership of the wind, the air or the stars.

Thank you.

That is not to say Maori do not have a spiritual and emotional connection to particular waterways and lakes. They do, as do many non-Maori. Nor is it to deny that Maori may have ”residual proprietary” interests in particular streams, rivers and lakes arising from guarantees contained in the Treaty of Waitangi. The Waitangi Tribunal has ruled they do and Crown lawyers have effectively conceded the point. The argument is over the extent and nature of those interests.

However, to suggest, as King Tuheitia did, that Maori own the water in the same way that someone can be said to own a television set, washing machine or pair of shoes is nonsensical.

Water cannot be owned; water rights can be, but they are a different thing and come with lesser entitlements. Conflating the two antagonises non-Maori, raises Maori expectations to levels that cannot be satisfied and undermines public support for the settlement of historic grievances.

Exactly. The posturing of the King has damaged his own cause – significantly.


September 18th, 2012 at 2:08 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

Prime Minister John Key said Maori had more positions on water than Lady Gaga had outfits.

On his way into caucus at Parliament this morning he was asked about the unity around the water issue at the national hui last week called by King Tuheitia.

He suggested that from the media reports he had seen there wasn’t unity.

“There are kind of more positions than Lady Gaga’s got outfits.”

No race, gender, or generally any group of human beings has a common view on a political issue.

So much for that hui

September 17th, 2012 at 6:39 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Maori unity over water may already be splintering.

Forty-five of Maoridom’s most powerful leaders yesterday gathered at Ngaruawahia in the wake of a hui convened by King Tuheitia – and later made it clear they were not going to be rolled by a new pan-Maori body in any discussions with the Crown over Maori rights and interests in water.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key flatly rejected the claim by King Tuheitia that Maori had always owned the water.

“In law he’s just plain wrong; all the advice we’ve had is that the common law position is the correct position, which is that no-one owns water.”

Mr Key also rejected meeting a pan-Maori body ahead of individual iwi with water claims – and reiterated that there would be no national settlement on water.

Good. The view of King Tuheitia that all water is owned by Maori and should be controlled solely by Maori must not be accepted.

There also appeared to be overwhelming support for the establishment of a pan-Maori body representing broad Maori interests, including the Maori Women’s Welfare League, the kohanga reo movement, the Maori Council and others appointed by an eminent group, including Tuwharetoa head Sir Tumu te Heuheu.

But the Iwi Leaders Group yesterday issued a statement confirming a resolution had been passed unanimously endorsing the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and its continued engagement with the Crown.

Meanwhile, Sir Tumu said he was not even in the room when the vote was taken – and had nothing to do with his name being put forward. He confirmed that he would not be nominating anyone for such a body.

So the proposed chair wasn’t even in favour of the resolution. It looks like people were just being polite.

What annoyed me over King Tuheitia’s views is the damage it does to the generally tolerant New Zealand we have. There are genuinely divergent views on issues around the Treaty and Maori in New Zealand. That is inevitable, and will always be the case.

However many, even most, people place greater value of having relative harmony in race relations than insisting that the law must reflect their personal views. Take the Maori seats as one issue.

I personally believe it is incredibly wrong to have seats in Parliament where voters of only one race can enrol in that seat.  They were set up at a time when only property owners had votes, and was a way to allow Maori who tended to communally own property to vote. They were a well intentioned device, that should have never lasted more than a few years.

Ironically they then became a method of disenfranchisement for Maori, as they were forced to remain on the Maori roll until the 1970s.

But regardless of their history, I quite strongly feel that a country should not have electoral seats reserved for people based on who their parents were.

However I do not advocate scrapping the Maori seats unilaterally. Why? Because I respect that for many Maori, even the majority of Maori, they have become something highly valued and prized. That if Pakeha New Zealanders voted in a referendum to abolish the Maori seats, despite the desire of most Maori New Zealanders to retain them, then it would damage race relations. So I, and many others, do not advocate an abolition in the interests of a harmonious New Zealand. I would like to see the day where the majority of Maori agree to their abolition – something very different to being out-voted on abolishing them.

Now this tolerance and desire for harmony should go both ways in my view. As someone born in New Zealand, who has no other country they call home, I get upset when the Maori King advocates that I have no rights to water in New Zealand – that Maori should control, manage and allocate water. And a hui is held to seemingly advance this view.

And I am not alone in getting upset, when such claims are asserted. The vast majority of New Zealanders find such a claim repugnant, and the impact of such posturing is to diminish the pool of goodwill that exists. It will create a climate where support for settling historical grievances will evaporate, where tolerance of the Maori seats will diminish.

Tolerance is a two-way street.

A view that I will never accept

September 14th, 2012 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

I’m pretty liberal on issues to do with the Treaty of Waitangi, customary rights, common law rights, historical settlements. I’ve said I accept some Iwi have some rights around some water.

However I will never accept this view:

King Tuheitia said Maori had always owned the water.

Sorry, no you do not. You get certain rights from having moved here 600 years or so before the rest of us, but you do not get to claim ownership of all the water in New Zealand. We do not live in a country where the first wave of immigrants get all the rights, and the second wave get no rights over essential resources such as water.

The power to manage and control water and allocate water rights should rest with Maori, rather than the regional councils, he said.

This would make all non-Maori an inferior class of citizen.

If those who attended the hui wish to assert they own all the water in New Zealand, and that Maori should have total control of water management and allocation, they of course have that right. But they are risking a huge backlash that will dry up the considerable good will that exists in this country and allows settlements such as Tuhoe to have broad political support.

It would be relatively easy to get 300,000 signatures on a CIR on the topic “Should Maori own, manage and allocate water rights in New Zealand”. It would be an ugly divisive campaign, and set race relations back considerably. But it would get a record turnout, and a record no vote.

Now not all those who attended the Hui share the view of King Tuheitia that Maori own all the water in New Zealand, and should manage, control and allocate water rights. Ngai Tahi saud:

Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon said Maori all agreed on a collaborative approach toward settling water issues.

“From a Ngai Tahu perspective we don’t believe the asset sales will affect the rights and interests of Maori from reaching an agreement.”

The issue of whether or not asset sales impact any water rights that Maori do have, is one the courts will decide, so I’m not too worried about that particular issue.

The issue that worries me is having the Maori King assert ownership of all water in New Zealand. I do not believe that view can be left unchecked. I hope media ask Labour’s Maori MPs if they agree with that view. Ask the Greens also – in fact all Maori MPs in Parliament.

I also do not think that would be the view of the majority of Maori living in New Zealand.

Peters say we should all be Maori

September 5th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

New Zealand First is suggesting all New Zealanders pretend to be Maori to get special privileges under the law.

The party wants the Government to define who is and isn’t Maori before offering deals to iwi over water rights, after delaying the asset sales programme. 

Winston Peters says anybody could be Maori under the law.

Heh only Winston could suggest that.

For the 2nd time this week, I am partially agreeing with him.

I don’t think Maori should have special privileges under the law.

But I do think Iwi do have common law rights. I have no problem with saying that Iwi have customary rights in certain areas.

So the issue for me is not about rights for “Maori” but rights for “Iwi”. I don’t think you need to define who is or is not Maori, but rather the Crown needs to recognise Iwi, and Iwi have lists of their members.

This is why a national settlement on water rights is not desirable. Any rights belong to specific Iwi in specific locations – not to Maori generally.

Some will say Iwi have no special rights at all. I disagree. Just as property owners in a certain area may get rights of objection or compensation for developments that impinge on them, so do Iwi.

MRP sale delayed

September 3rd, 2012 at 4:29 pm by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

The partial sale of Mighty River Power has been delayed until next year, Prime Minister John Key confirmed this afternoon.

Mr Key said the sale would now take place in the period from March to June and would be followed by the partial sale of either Genesis or Meridian later next year.

This is a significant decision. While MRP will still be floated, the chance of having all five sales before the 2014 election is diminished. National would ideally like them all completed so that 2014 is not about any further asset sales, but other issues. So Labour will be happy with today’s decision. They will also be more likely to get the signatures for their petition completed in time, so that the petition is validated before the first sale. They will then use that to call for a further delay (which of course will not happen).

I guess the Government wasn’t confident that if they did not delay, that legal action wouldn’t force a delay anyway. So this is probably a case of making a virtue out of necessity.

This is also a win for the Maori Party. They will use the delay as proof that being constructively engaged with Government, is better than total opposition to everything as Mana does.

One possibility for the Government is to only sell minority stakes in three SOES, not four (Air NZ is not an SOE), which could still be done before the 2014 election. There is a case for the time being very bad for Solid Energy, and also a case for not selling Genesis (which I will blog on later this week). Both of these companies are pretty small compared to the others.

The treatygate campaign

August 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Ansell has blogged on the treatygate campaign, as reported yesterday by Critic. His plan is:

  1. Launch Colourblind New Zealand, and set a goal to lock in one law for all by December 2014.
  2. Raise a $2 million fighting fund so the politicians know we’re able to embarrass them.
  3. Petition for a referendum at the 2014 election. Question: “Do you want New Zealand to be a Colourblind State, with one law for all, and no racial favouritism of any kind?”
  4. How to make the PM obey the referendum result? Run lots of bold Treatygate ads telling voters just who has been conning them, and how.
  5. If media refuse to run these ads, use rival media to expose them as part of the con.
  6. Bombard government MPs with instructions from their voters to obey their will.
  7. Support local body campaigns on Maori wards (typically attracting an 80% NO vote).

For my 2c I have long said I think NZ would be better off without the Maori parliamentary seats, and that having race based seats on local bodies is definitely not heading in the right direction..

However I differ from John in terms of how I view the Treaty of Waitangi. I think the settlement of historical grievances is a very good thing, and I do not have a problem with the Treaty of Waitangi having legal recognition – but the Treaty itself, not the more nebulous “principles”.

Also while I think NZ would be better off without the Maori seats (race based seats can only be divisive in the long run), I don’t think it is wise for the majority to remove something which has taken on huge significance with many Maori. The majority of New Zealanders who are of Maori descent have chosen to enrol on the Maori roll, which is significant. This may be partly tactical of course though.

So my preference is to convince Maori that they would be better off to do away with the Maori seats, and instead implement what the 1986 Royal Commission implemented of no threshold for Maori parties contesting the party vote. That of course is not entirely colour-blind – but I think both a better solution for Maori, and a less divisive one for New Zealand.

Critic on Treatygate

August 13th, 2012 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

An exclusive from Critic:

Critic has obtained documents from controversial race campaigner Louis Crimp, setting out a plan for a $2million campaign aiming to make New Zealand a “colourblind” (racially neutral) state. The campaign will be split into two distinct “brands”, known as “Treatygate” and “Colourblind State”.

‘Treatygate” is the “attack brand”, and will involve a series of brief, hard-hitting advertisements designed to incite “anger” in “hothead” voters. Treatygate aims to “expose the 40 year state brainwashing campaign that has distorted the history of Crown-Maori relations”.

Speaking to Critic, John Ansell, the advertising guru behind the campaign, described the planned advertisements for Treatygate as “short sharp little messages with one piece of evidence in each one”, such as that “Maori companies pay 17.5% tax, [while] others pay 28%.”

According to Ansell the primary goal of the Treatygate campaign is to “expose the bias and enrage the public”. “You have to make the public mad… otherwise we’re the passionless people, we won’t rouse ourselves to oppose the politicians unless [the public] have the information.”

The Treatygate campaign is likely to kick off before the end of 2012, dependent on funding.

After the public have been fired up by the Treatygate campaign, “Colourblind State” aims to harness this anger to get 80% or more of the public to vote in favour of a referendum question along the lines of “Should New Zealand be a colourblind state, with no race-based political representation, policies, or funding?”. Ansell intends to submit his referendum question by the end of August, which will give Parliament three months to approve it. After that, Ansell and his fellow campaigners will have one year to gather the more than 300,000 signatures required to trigger a citizens initiated referendum.

I wonder which CIR may gain more signatures – the asset sales one, or this proposed one? I guess the Greens will not be using taxpayer funding to hire staff to colect signatures for this one!

But Labour and the Greens are insisting that a CIR trumps an election mandate. So if this CIR does happen, and gets majority support, will they adopt it as policy?

For Ansell and his supporters, time is of the essence – the Constitutional Advisory Panel, which was set up in 2011 to review NZ’s constitutional arrangements and draft a set of recommendations, is due to report back in September 2013. Ansell believes that the panel is “stacked” in favour of what he describes as “Griever Maori”, and that the panel is likely to recommend that the government “impose a Treaty-based Maorified constitution by 2014”, which would be “the end of NZ as we know it”.

The Treatygate campaign will involve TV and print advertisements, dependent on funding. However, Ansell says: “The NZ media are pretty gutless so they probably won’t run the ads, so we may have to find other ways of getting them to the public – putting them in letterboxes, dropping them from planes, whatever it takes.”

As well as whipping up public sentiment in favour of a colourblind state, Ansell hopes his campaign will “turn people around from the belief that if you say one thing against this rort then you’re a racist. It’s a tough road, because in America you’re a racist if you wear a white hood and want to lynch black people, and in NZ you’re a racist if you want racial equality.”

Funding is the biggest roadblock standing in the way of Ansell’s campaign so far – although he is aiming for a “political party-type budget” of $2 million, several of his donors have bailed out on him, including one “patriot” who had originally pledged $250,000. Despite this setback, Ansell remains hopeful that funding will trickle in over time. “Hopefully we can start with something small and it’ll snowball. I will be putting out my prospectus to as many people I can think of as possible, with deep pockets, who might be prepared to help, and to ordinary people.”

Note John has commented on the articles in the comments below it.

No banning body snatching is not cultural genocide

July 16th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Yvonne Tahana at NZ Herald reports:

The contested burial of Christchurch father and Tuhoe man James Takamore goes to the Supreme Court tomorrow but an academic says a decision overriding customary Maori law is akin to “cultural genocide”.

Mr Takamore died in 2007 in the South Island, where he lived with his partner Denise Clarke and children.

In a move described as “body snatching”, his wider whanau took him from Christchurch for burial according to Tuhoe custom at Kutarere in the Bay of Plenty.

Ms Clarke’s fight to disinter the remains was upheld by the High Court and Court of Appeal based on her rights as executor and spouse. However, Mr Takamore’s sister Josephine has appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ms Clarke told the Herald she expected to succeed in the latest round of litigation. “They’re not willing to compromise, they’ve made that clear.”

Associate Professor Nin Tomas of the Auckland University law school has researched customary and common law: the first emphasises rights held by whanau, the second holds that executors or spouses have the final say in burial matters.

Neither should have the final say. The clearly expressed wishes of the deceased should have force in law, and if necessary it should be a criminal offence to act against them (so long as they are legal and practical).

In the absence of clear directions in a will, then the order of precedence should be:

  1. Executor
  2. Spouse or partner
  3. Children
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings

Miss Takamore’s wishes should be well down the chain.

Professor Tomas said the Takamore case “is a conflict-of-laws situation and the court needs to look at the overall custom and its importance to the society it supports”.

“To dismember [tikanga], or to outlaw it as a system, as the [courts] have done, is cultural genocide.”

The law needed to change to better accommodate customary law.

There may be a clash of laws. I have no problem at all with saying a law which respect the wishes of the individual deceased and then the person that individual chose to marry should trump a customary law which robs the deceased and their chosen family of their rights to decide place of burial. Of course in a cross-cultural situation, individuals should try and compromise to agree on something palatable to all – but if agreement is not achieved, then the law should be followed and there should be penalties for body stealing.