Prebble on co-governance:

Richard Prebble writes:

Where Chris Hipkins is right is when he says there is considerable confusion over co-governance. Government delegates powers all the time, not just to Maori. Government should do more de-centralizing of decision making. In this form of “co-governance” the government retains the ultimate power.

What is concerning is co-government, the idea that government itself is a partnership.

Co-government arises from Labour’s decision to put a radical revisionist version of the treaty at the heart of all its decisions. The revisionists claim the treaty is an agreement between Queen Victoria and 500 or so native chiefs to govern in partnership forever.

To meet this revisionist treaty Labour is establishing co-government with unelected, unaccountable, self- selected, hereditary tribal elites. It is the opposite of everything Labour use to stand for.

This view of the Treaty as a permanent power-sharing partnership is embedded in Wellington – in the Government, the public service, academia and NGOs.

New Zealand has been since 1853 a Westminster parliamentary democracy. Those who rule us are under the rule of law and accountable to us, the electorate. 

Parliamentary democracy is fundamentally at odds with being governed in partnership by hereditary tribal leaders. It does not matter whether the Prime Minister calls it a partnership, co-governance or mahi tahi,(working together); it is incompatible with democracy.

New Zealand is not a democracy when one partner is accountable to the electorate and the other partner is not. 

Even if the revisionists are right and some chiefs misunderstood the treaty they were signing, it is not a reason to abandon 170 years of parliamentary democracy. 

The treaty granted rights not just to the chiefs but to all Maori. Article three of the treaty grants Maori full citizenship rights. Maori have had voting rights from the first election in 1853. To reinterpret the treaty as a partnership is to reduce everyone’s citizenship rights, including the citizenship rights granted to Maori.

No doubt it was galling to some chiefs to discover that the treaty means every Maori has an equal vote. The treaty is why no New Zealand court has ever upheld slavery. While it did not happen immediately, the treaty freed Maori who were slaves and gave them full citizenship including the right to vote. 

The Treaty was about equality.

Comments (25)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment