Anne Salmond on the Treaty and co-governance

Dame has published a series of six articles at Newsroom on Te Tiriti and Democracy. They made some very points, which I will try and cover below.

In Part 1 she notes the problem with the Cooke decision in 1987:

 In the 1987 ‘Lands’ case, for example, the judges’ framing of the Treaty as “a partnership between races” (or between “Pakeha and Maori”, or “the Crown and the Maori race”), cannot be securely traced back to the text of Te Tiriti. …

Nor is there any talk of ‘races’ in Te Tiriti. Whakapapa is a relational framing of the world as a cosmic network, with a burst of energy that generates thought, memory and desire, aeons of nothingness and darkness, the winds of life and growth, followed by earth and sky, forests, crops, winds, the sea and rivers, and people. All human beings in Te Tiriti are spoken of as ‘tāngata’ (persons); and ‘tāngata maori’ is best translated as ordinary, everyday human beings.

Instead of a racialised, bilateral “partnership between races,” then, (or between “Pakeha and Maori”, or “the Crown and the Maori race” – a framing that lends itself to ‘Iwi vs. Kiwi’ interpretations), the relationships among the parties in Te Tiriti itself are multi-lateral and non-racial – as you’d expect in a whakapapa framing.

And then in Part 2 she notes:

In very recent times, Sir Robin Cooke’s rewriting of Te Tiriti as a binary ‘partnership between races’ has been interpreted as requiring a split in kāwanatanga, or governance at level. The division of populations into ‘races,’ however, is a colonial artefact that cuts across whakapapa and is scientifically obsolete. It is not a sound basis for constitutional arrangements in the 21st Century.

I agree.

In Part 3 she looks again at the problem of racial division:

After 250 years of shared history in Aotearoa New Zealand, the lineages of indigenous persons and incoming settlers from many different backgrounds have tangled in ways that defy separation into two distinct ‘races’. In whakapapa, with its kin-based relationships among earth and sky, the winds and the sea, plants and animals as well as people, this kind of complexity is handled with admirable simplicity.

As different kinds of incoming settlers marry and have children with those who are already living in Aotearoa, they enter the whakapapa, bringing their lineages with them. These include persons described as ‘African,’ ‘Asian,’ ‘Pacific Islanders’ or ‘Pākehā’ in contemporary census tabulations. Here, where racial categories do not exist, these tīpuna (ancestors) are all described as tāngata, persons with their own origins and ancestral heritages.

Individuals may identify with the kin group of either parent, and kin groups define themselves by reference to an apical ancestor. As time passes, non-indigenous incomers may even have whānau named after them – the Manuels, the Stirlings, the Jacksons, the O’Regans etc.

In the logic of whakapapa, ideas of weaving, or binding, or currents flowing together in a river abound. The notion that these interwoven, ever-changing kin networks can be split into two distinct, timeless ‘races’ – ‘Māori’ and ‘Pākehā’ – does not fit well with this relational framing. Nor does the idea of ‘race’ have scientific credibility, as pointed out above.

In Part 5 she looks at the Rotorua bill:

Frederick Maning, an early settler in the Hokianga who lived among Māori, agreed: ‘The natives are so self-possessed, opinionated, and republican, that the chiefs have at ordinary times but little control over them, except in very rare cases, where the chief happens to possess a singular vigour of character, or some other unusual advantage, to enable him to keep them under.’

Even in war, as the missionary Henry Williams noted, “it was their usual way for each party to go where they liked, that everyone was his own chief. Without any one to direct, not only does each tribe distinct from the other, but each individual has the same liberty.”

The evidence suggests that democratic values cannot be regarded as a colonial imposition.

Democracy and democratic values do not belong to any one race or culture. They are universal human rights.

No New Zealander should be asked to accept that, by virtue of their birth, they are less worthy than any other. And the chances that if they are asked, they will agree, are vanishingly small, because to do so is to surrender their dignity as a person.

As it states in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’

No ifs, no buts, no exceptions.

Sadly thought 77 MPs voted against the UDHR and voted to end equality of suffrage.

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