Maori Party and Clark

August 4th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes:

There has been a slight irony in developments around the race to be UN Secretary-General this week. Over the Tasman, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd discovered he did not have support from anybody except indigenous groups thanks to his apology to the “Stolen Generation”.

Here, Helen Clark discovered she had the support of everybody except the Maori Party (and the Right-to-Lifers but let’s not go there.)

Maori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox have been hung, drawn and quartered for saying they did not support Helen Clark’s bid to be Secretary-General. Labour described it as “political hysteria”, Dover Samuels said it was utu, NZ First leader Winston Peters proclaimed it was “treacherous in the extreme”.

It seems the Maori Party missed out in the nationwide distribution of rose-tinted glasses since Prime Minister John Key and Helen Clark announced her bid.

Anyone who is surprised at the Maori Party’s position has forgotten where the Maori Party came from. It was born from protest against the very actions of Helen Clark’s former Labour Government.

This week’s debate has prodded old scabs – Clark meeting Shrek instead of the foreshore and seabed hui of “haters and wreckers”, Clark referring to the Maori Party as “last cab off the rank”. It was a reminder that the Maori Party owed Clark nothing.

Clark called them the last cab off the rank, so not very surprising they they are not enthusiastic.

Morgan Godfery also makes the case against Clark from a Maori point of view:

I was thirteen years old when Helen Clark pinched my land. She told the country my family were ‘haters and wreckers’. …

But Clark is the prime minister responsible for preventing Māori from establishing customary title to the country’s foreshore and seabed, a land confiscation in process if not name. As if the psychic harm of ‘nationalising the beaches’ were not enough, owners with private title to the foreshore and seabed could continue business as usual. It’s an exhausted truism, but property rights for some are property rights for none.

There are so many things that hurt here: the double standard between possible owners of Māori customary title and owners of private titles; blocking access to the courts, another breach of natural justice for Māori; but the moment that survives in my memory, almost twelve years later, is how Clark condemned the law’s opponents as ‘haters and wreckers’. Again, this isn’t neutral – the unspoken context is that Māori hate and plan to wreck the nation. 

This distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’, between Māori and the nation, is more than hypothetical. Māori activist and writer Tim Selwyn, who threw an axe through Clark’s electorate office window in the middle of the night as a symbolic act of dissent against the foreshore and seabed law, was convicted on a charge of sedition. Understood in this context, the accusation that Marama Fox is a ‘traitor’ takes on a sinister edge.

If racism is a private act, then Helen Clark is no racist. But if racism is a public act, something that happens through institutions and manifests in power relations, then perhaps she is. Racism works like a virus, infecting progressive and conservative hosts. Politicians, especially prime ministers, often make racist choices, whether they mean to or not. Clark’s foreshore and seabed law may lack racist intent, but its racist impact is clear: one standard for Māori customary owners, another for private – most likely overwhelmingly white – owners.

I’m sorry, but your progressive fav is problematic. #ImWithMarama

I’m personally a backer of Clark for three reasons:

  1. I think she can do the job, and would be better than the other candidates in terms of cutting costs at the UN
  2. I think NZ would benefit from having a NZer as UN Secretary-General
  3. It keeps her out of NZ for another five to ten years!

But I agree with Godfery that it is hysterical and nasty for media and politicians to insist everyone must be backing Clark or they are traitors to NZ. Absolute nonsense. She was a controversial politician and of course some NZers will not back her candidacy.

Morgan Godfery on King Tuheitia

December 7th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Morgan Godfery blogs at Maui Street:

It’s worth remembering that the Kingitanga is not an expression of power or sovereignty. The movement is an expression of and tool for unity. Tuheitia, however, appears to treat his office as if it’s a cheap imitation of the worst aspects European Royal Protocol. …

Guests are also encouraged to refer to Tuheitia as “your majesty”. Odd. I find it strange that royal protocols exist at all – Te Atairangikaahu did not keep a protocol guide. Hell, when she travelled the country she would stay at the homes of her friends and whanau. No hotels and chauffeurs, thank you very much. After all, the Kingitanga isn’t about reverance and mana does not extend to those people with less having to act towards you with veneration. 

Add to that a verbal incident that the Waikato Times reported in 2010. Apparently, in a meeting about Tania Martin and Te Kauhanganui, Tuheitia let rip against a kaumatua and Tame Iti’s sister. The King is reported to have asked the kaumatua whether he can “fucking read” and, when called on it, he told Iti if she doesn’t like it she can “fuck off”. Not the qualities you would expect of any leader, let alone the Maori King. 

Waikato-Tainui members are also asking whether this is part of a continuing campaign for more power and money. In January this year Tuheitia first voiced his desire to “take control of the tribe’s parliament” and Chris Webster reports that the Office of the King has received millions in tribal funding from 2009. Earlier this year Tuheitia penned a plea in the tribal magazine, Te Hookioi, for further funding. You have to ask whether the King’s latest reach for power, read the first and the most recent open letters, are part of a pattern.

Another cause for worry is the King’s cartel of advisors. The King maintains a large office, in comparison to his mother at least, including Rangi Wallace who admitted to beating his step-daughter and her mother, Helen Kotua. Further to that, Wallace also owed $250,000 to IRD in 2011 and Kotua owed Baycorp over $3000. Kotua, I should mention, is the author of the protocols above.  …

In one sense, the behaviour of the Maori King is simply a matter for Tainui. It is up to them. However the former Maori Queen was held in high regard by many New Zealanders and widely mourned when she died. It is a shame to see her successor act so differently.

I’m not a great fan of royalty and hereditary succession – for New Zealand, or elsewhere. However, it can work reasonably well when the monarch merely reigns rather than rules.

King Tuheitia obviously desires to rule Tainui, with his proposal that he be given the authority to both veto and dissolve the tribal parliament. Now that is a matter for Tainui, but I make the general point from history that monarchs who try to rule, not reign, generally end up serving themselves – not their people.

Responding to Morgan

July 20th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Morgan Godfery blogged a response to me on the Takamore case. He said:

There is a clash of laws. In New Zealand, and elsewhere, the common law position is that the executrix of the will (Miss Clarke) will prevail. Under Maori law, a majority opinion in the whanau will prevail. The wishes of the deceased and the deceased’ partner are, in most cases, subordinate to the wishes of the wider whanau.

The question then is, what law should prevail? In this particular case, I am comfortable with the common law position (or the western position) prevailing. Why? Well, because the deceased made it clear he wanted to lay in Otautahi (Christchurch) as did his children. However, in a situation where there is no explicit wish and the deceased is Maori, I think Maori law must prevail. These situations are rare and should be decided on a case by case basis.

I’m not necessarily against the wider whanau deciding, if there is no explicit wish from the deceased. I am very firm that the explicit wishes of the deceased should be paramount.

However I believe good laws deliver certainty.  People should know where they stand under the law, so they don’t break then. And this is where a law that say the wishes of a majority opinion in the whanau will decide, has problems. Who decides who counts in the whanau? Does an uncle or aunt count? How about cousins? Do children and partners get the same say as a second cousin? Do only Maori members of the whanau count? Does that mean the Pakeha partner doesn’t even get a vote?

If one seriously wants customary law to prevail, then you need to define it better. If you do not, then I think that significantly increase the number of disputes and potential for unilateral action.