What Don Brash missed saying

The recent Don Brash –  Peter Sharples  debate following the ACT advertisement designed by John Ansell and addressing what is undoubtedly the maorification of New Zealand (as disturbing a process for many part-Maori as it is to non-Maori New Zealanders) was interesting for the different approach each took addressing – or avoiding – the questions.

There are issues on which, like other New Zealanders, I strongly disagree with Don Brash. And like other politicians he stood up late to be counted in this debate. The dereliction of politicians, long intent (as we are all well aware ) on buying “the Maori vote” is undoubtedly one of the reason Maori radicalism has become so entrenched and divisive. But what do the notions of principles and morality now have to do with our parliament?

However, any genuine debate must be founded on the actual evidence. Don Brash to some extent addressed the issues. His was evidence-based debate.  Pita  Sharples opted for the deeply-wounded, emotive, hand-waving, fact-dodging rhetoric which simply made him look foolish to those interested in an evidence-based debate, and sent viewers to Alice in Wonderland territory. We can recall that  in “Through the Looking Glass” Humpty Dumpty expostulates as following:

 “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

This, of course, was Lewis Carroll’s highlighting of the deceit and avoidance of fact that passed for politicized debate  in his own time. Words are a form of control, and misusing them to capture a debate by sidestepping the actual facts – the genuine evidence, where it is found to be inconvenient  or would prove that  one’s own “facts” are inaccurate – is a debating trick with a long pedigree. It relies, as did Maori Party leader Pita Sharpies’ contribution, on emotive rhetoric, on oratory, on manipulation, on sidestepping or twisting facts to elicit misplaced sympathy from the audience. And above all it relies heavily on simply repeating assertions that are in fact quite wrong. Lewis Carroll illustrated this well in The Hunting of the Snark  – “What I tell you three times is true.”

The Maori Party has got this down to a fine art – repeating assertions that are in fact not true, knowing well that something repeated often enough is usually uncritically accepted – especially in a country where the education system is weak. New Zealanders in our schools and throughout our media have been thoroughly propagandized in recent decades – schoolchildren long and culpably systematically and deliberately brainwashed in this area by a highly politicized Ministry of Education.

 In his head-on debate with ACT Party leader Don Brash, Pita  Sharples employed denial, emotive rhetoric, the  repeated assertion of quite wrong facts and an interesting new claim – that the majority of New Zealanders support the divisive directions in which radicalized individuals – demonstrably by no means speaking for even majority Maori – have been leading us these recent decades.

 I say interesting, because the wily Tariana Turia, too, apparently found her long display of antagonism, almost rabidly so, to “Pakeha” (reigned in by Helen Clark with one eye on the electorate)  eventually less than useful to her and Pita Sharples. Viewing the new honeymoon identification with mainstream New Zealanders which Sharples produced was a reminder of the smile on the face of the tiger. One can contrast the new verbal cuddling-up to the electorate at large with what the radicalized Maori Party is up to, behind the scenes. National Party leader John Key’s close personal relationship with Sharples and National’s betrayal of the country, by ignoring its undertaking to abolish the racist Maori seats, and by its extraordinary support of the equally racist Marine and Coastal Area legislation, have disillusioned many.

It’s been said that “Only in New Zealand could those who argue for equality of treatment under the law for all citizens be regarded as racist by members of a party that exists solely to further the interests of their ethnic group”. In other words, the adjective racist can here only properly belong to those advocating for Maori-only advantage. But it is craftily being used as a bludgeon against those concerned at the growing divisiveness of this country.

We need a far higher level of scrutiny of the actual actions of the Maori Party and its fellow travellers well intent on self-advantage – camouflaged by all the careful projections of hurt feeling, challenges to mana  (arguably too often equated with ego,  if not hubris ) and other smokescreens distorting the obvious. Typically, leader Pita Sharples’ press release after the debate again played the sympathy card  – “sad, negative, disturbing “ – in relation to an advertisement that majority New Zealanders would endorse  – even those who keep their heads down. Sharples was short on facts  – long on baloney – to use one of the favourite words of the brave Margaret Thatcher, who, whatever you think of her policies, had an instinct for hocus-pocus.

Everything the Maori Party hopes for – continued funding (which, we  know, does not get through to Maori at large who are most in need); continued self-importance; the media microphone held in front of aggrieved faces; and now, of course, far greater political power and advantage  – depends upon fomenting the continued divisiveness of centre-staging a now part-Maori only population, two centuries, seven, eight, or more generations removed from their first Stone Age encounter with Europeans and their subsequent intermarriage with other New Zealanders of varying genetic inheritance.

In this respect, it is no accident that there is never any recognition from now part-Maori that they have an equally, and even arguably far more important colonial genetic inheritance from those who brought civilisation to this country – with all the very real benefits that ensued to these constantly warring peoples with no original title at all to their lands. What is in fact a highly politicized move, immersing  young part-Maori in te reo schools and learning, not so much for the children’s own benefit – given the realities of the 21st century world – but as potential tribal recruitment and  to increase tribes’ political strength – should be vigorously questioned.

Underlying all this debate is the Treaty of Waitangi, now distorted and manipulated well past its original intent. Unquestionably this was that New Zealanders should live as one people, equal in status with equal rights to all under the authority of the Crown. 

However, tribal executives realized in recent years, as the very question of who today is  Maori was obviously going to assume greater importance (given the lack of any reasonable definition following the well-engineered  1974 removal of  the definition of an at least 50% genetically-Maori requirement), that they had  more prospects for increasing their power, for  both personal and financial advantage, by challenging the obvious intent of the treaty. Contesting the wording would muddy the waters and sow confusion.

That they should ever have succeeded to today’s extent  can be laid at the door of our highly compromised parliament – and the vote-buying with which we are well acquainted. So unscientific and nonsensical now are our census requirements that even a mere smidgen of Maori ancestry, i.e. “emotionally identifying” with Maori, allows  individuals to classify themselves as Maori. This is palpably ridiculous, and dishonest. The result is that most of Maoridom’s most strident activists are more European than Maori. There is something very wrong here.

Things went rapidly downhill in the field of race relations, from the mid-80s,  in Geoffrey Palmer’s time as Minister of Justice, when in the view of many, he was responsible for the feel-good folly of setting out to address  conflicting and problematic tribal claims right back to the 19th century time of the Treaty of Waitangi.  What was ignored was that from this time, in spite of the fact  that from the signing of the treaty, and continuing right down to the 20th century,  funding had been consistently directed to every possible area which might benefit Maori and assist their needy and disadvantaged, especially those moving from the maraes to the cities to obtain work. Special scholarships; all kinds of trade apprenticeships; prior placings in universities; special consideration and grants available in housing, in welfare, in education through the former Department of Maori affairs – every possible door of opportunity was provided  in conscience and goodwill to advance Maori interests in particular. As the push for special privileges, quotas, agencies, commissions and departments took off , correspondingly nepotism, tribalism, and racism began to flourish. Many able Maori were welcomed into the professions – some into law to climb on board the treaty gravy train – others into well-paid organisations like the Fisheries Commission or the Crown Forest Rental Trust.

 There was no recognition whatsoever of this in Maori Party leader Pita Sharples’ misplaced rhetoric constantly complaining about part-Maoris’ so-called disadvantage – and this was an area where Don Brash’s contribution to the debate fell down. Had he been far better informed, he would have been able to point out that today’s $37 billion Maori economy was largely built on the efforts of non-Maori New Zealanders, and, far from being earned by the tribes now craftily claiming it isn’t enough – was largely handed over by the people of this country to address genuine grievances and to settle them for all-time. It was also meant to advantage the most needy, not the tribal executives who have managed to appropriate the settlements for their own politicized aims, for tribal development, and to finance young part-Maori into key areas of education  – e.g. with regard to treaty issues in our schools, universities and media placements (only provided that these will advantage the tribe – as specifically stated by Robert Mahuta – when leader of Tainui).

 Similarly, Ngai Tahu leader Tipene O’Regan was reported at the time of the highly controversial and indeed apparently quite wrongly endorsed  Ngai Tahu settlement as saying Ngai Tahu had no intention of addressing the needs of the poor and disadvantaged  of his tribe. Suggesting it was a waste of time to help these people, he handed the problem back to “the government “ – i.e. expecting, as indeed does Pita Sharples, all other New Zealanders to provide ongoing social welfare for Maoris whom the tribal leaders were, and are, ignoring.

Although the settlements were meant, in the eyes of New Zealanders, to benefit all Maori, those many thousands not affiliated to nor registered with any tribe have had their needs ignored by the tribes. While the Maori Party leaders invoke all Maoridom, and sanctimoniously talk about “our people” they have by no means ensured that all Maori shared equally, according to taxpayers’ expectation. On the contrary.

Nothing has changed- except that things are getting worse. That the boorish, foul-mouthed Hone Harawira  in whom the standards of civilized, reasoned debate are absent, should attract enough votes to actually be in parliament is an indictment on all those who have so indefatigably worked to worsen race relations these recent decades, and the folly of those who have continued, through misguided paternalism, to regard Maori as “special”, simply because their immigration preceded that of the colonists – although not of the people before them whom Maori themselves recognized as having preceded them,  calling them the  tangata whenua – the first people – the phrase now wrongly appropriated by activist Maori to gain special advantage.

What has happened to this country with regarded to radicalized Maori seems to have developed as a kind of mental illness linked to a spiritual malaise, fostered by self-importance, an eye to the main chance, a lack of respect  for democratic principles of equality before the law, and a refusal to acknowledge the enormous benefits that colonization brought to this country in housing, health, clothing, agricultural, educational,  technological and scientific advantages of which Maori activists, while calling for separatism,  have by no means been reluctant to avail themselves. The sheer nonsense of activist Maori claiming compensation for any use of New Zealand’s indigenous flora  – while not correspondingly being charged for the use  of European-derived discoveries as basic as aspirin, or as important as antibiotics, is in essence, incredible.

With Maori wealth now very considerable,  the thinking at large among New Zealanders as a whole has turned towards the need for Maori activists, including the Maori Party,  to use their own resources given to them for this purpose – to take care of all their own people. $37 billion directed towards the needs of a population based on a 50 % Maori genetic inheritance would go a very long way.  Instead comes the untruthful and repetitive accusation that past governments “have not done enough for Maori”.

Following Geoffrey Palmer’s disastrous opening of Pandora’s box,  the claims settlement process is now a major industry, some genuine, many opportunistic, and recently arguably fraudulent with the revisiting of claims already apparently genuinely settled  in the past and now resurrected, reinvented, with  what were actual facts now denied or contested. Although the Maori tribes are now well able to fund for themselves enterprises and undertakings in connection with the protection of their language, their culture, with taking care of their own poor and disadvantaged, they continue as of right to attempt to raid the pockets of majority New Zealanders with their continuing emotive hard luck tales. What Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia are still demanding is, essentially even more targeted and damaging Maori welfare – in areas where the Maori Party itself, tribal executives and various political leaders, should be taking responsibility.

But at least in 2005, as National Party leader, Don Brash stood up to be counted on these issues and was immediately brayed down by a thoroughly biased, equally activist media. However on actual facts, as opposed to the Sharples brand of rhetoric, Brash had the right of the debate.

If indeed as the evidence suggests, today’s hands-out-as-of-right-you-owe-us mentality is in fact a form of at least psychological malaise, it needs to be dealt to and repudiated- rather than being consistently appeased by bestowing more and more of what we can call a virtual Danegeld.  The newest weapon to hand is Maori language week. The move to attempt to compel teachers to learn te reo  – of no interest or relevance whatsoever to those with degrees or interests in physics, chemistry, mathematics, other languages and disciplines – is basically fascist.

 What is also at stake here is an activist push against the so-called “linguistic imperialism of English,” a splenetic sentiment straight from the textbook of Marxist ideology. However, what we are being browbeaten over is the promotion of a language which was interesting and unique in its own right but is no longer authentic, with many thousands of new, pseudo-Maori words added to it, in the pretence that it can take its place, multinationally, alongside languages which have naturally evolved over the centuries.

This of course is untrue, and neo-Maori  constant centre-staging is not only tedious, but costly and extravagant, arguably insulting to the majority, whose Euro-New Zealand culture is based on English. Arguably the world’s most useful and richest language, it is far more important in today’s world for young part-Maori needing to be competently taught standards of excellence in what is also their heritage – a language and culture rich in its history, mythology, poetry, its creative and imaginative writing which benefited from those other great civilizations which contributed to this legacy which we have inherited.

The current insistence on trying to force young part-Maori, many of them far more predominately of European genetic inheritance, into the straightjacket of a reinvented te reo, is not ultimately to their best advantage, focusing them towards a myopic, balkanized view of the world in which they are inappropriately centre-staged – instead of being regarded as one of many ethnic groups whose traditions can be appropriately respected. But this should not be to the extent of expecting the majority culture to pay a kind of ritual obeisance to them.  Matariki, for example, is now being given a highly politicized media presence each year, as if central to our culture – ignoring the fact that the rising and falling of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades star cluster were part of European and far older civilizations’ patterns of observance – rather than being a special Maori discovery.

Moreover, many New Zealanders find it insulting that newly-coined Maori language, for example, should take precedence on formal occasions such as in the singing of our national anthem – at the expense of their own culture – and in naming new places, ships, and so on. Many visitors to New Zealand find it highly irritating that they have to endure lessons on the newly politicized version of the Treaty of Waitangi. They find Maori place names confusing and over-similar.

Instance after instance these recent decades has been reported of politicized Maori welfare groups criminally appropriating money specifically set up to address the problems of those who have not by one whit benefited from what now amounts to the wealthy Maori economy. How many criminal charges have been laid? When concerned Maori themselves have expressed disquiet and anger at these tribal and/or in-groups simply appropriating very large sums of over-freely granted taxpayer money for their own and their whanau’s benefit, no court action is taken – as would happen in any real justice system – or in any other circumstance – (except in parallel cases of highly wealthy, well-placed non-Maori corporate individuals who have also managed in recent years to profit from what have been essentially taxpayer rip-offs).

The consequences have been either non-discernible  – or risibly inadequate. The fact that both these circumstances  have presented our recent governments with political hot potatoes to juggle no doubt accounts for their curious lack of interest in sheeting home accountability to those concerned. Nor, given the considerable wealth of the tribes, should the Minister of Education be continuing to hand out taxpayer funds of millions of dollars for te reo immersion schools – as she is continuing to do. There are very obvious reasons why so many Maori children do not perform well at school, some because of parental attitude, activist propaganda, and a now second-rate education system. However, the current trend of treating part-Maori students as different, basically inferior, needing special help and a less demanding education is no part of the solution. Highlighting the academic success of  Maori achievers, indeed Maori heroes, and Maoris manifest ability to prosper worldwide, without demeaning special aids, would be far more helpful.

What we are seeing today is the heritage, traditions and culture of all New Zealanders – the majority descended from our colonial ancestors and united under the treaty of Waitangi – now being swept aside in the forelock-tugging  attitude  to Maori triumphalism. It is a shocking indictment on Nelson College for example, that while boasting of its links to Lord Rutherford, one of the world’s scientific geniuses, it actually sold a unique portrait of Rutherford and other memorabilia related to this prestigious former pupil to fund a whare for pupils of Maori and Pacific Island descent. Ironically, Nelson College boasts of storing the school’s taonga –  including fishhooks, stone adzes, and a number of taiaha – regarding them as treasures. The contrast in the treatment given to these endowments of the college is utterly inappropriate and shameful. The palpable disrespect shown to the school’s precious Rutherford inheritance simply in order to give the Maori and Pacific Island students “more of a status” and to provide “the next generation of leaders for the tribal groups” could not be more ill-judged.

We do not need the continuing fomenting of separatism, the fostering of divisiveness and of specialness – essentially an inappropriate projection of superiority by our ethnic minorities – in particular by activist Maori extremists over Euro-New Zealanders whose forefathers brought to a primitive, warring peoples the opportunities of a new world hitherto completely closed to them.

What is essentially taking place in this country is a kind of internal war waged by highly skilled Maori radicals using every politicized weapon at hand to continue to divide the country for self-advantage. Moves to frame a new constitution based on an utterly untrue,  legally and historically untenable “treaty partnership” are well underway – and not one of the political parties can be trusted to recognize this as fraudulent, if it disadvantages them to do so. Yet most New Zealanders would overwhelmingly agree that race ought to have no place in any constitution – not in a genuine democracy.

But then we demonstratively no longer have a genuine democracy  – hence the only practical way to the future  – our 100 Days – Claiming back New Zealand movement – www.100days.co.nz  – now spreading throughout New Zealand, and gaining growing support from expats overseas, deeply dismayed at what is happening to this country.

We are not served by the duplicity and evasiveness of politicians promoting ethnic separatism and avoiding the real issues which should be up for genuine debate – in favour of sympathy-gathering and false rhetoric. We should demand that any future media-sponsored debates are based upon the presentation of actual facts, rather than the avoidance of these in the propagandizing of the usual opportunists.

 ©Amy Brooke