Dear Winston –Please don’t shift your ground on a promise you made – and yes – it wasn’t an If…or a Maybe. It was an unequivocal undertaking. So many have trusted you. That’s important. So, as you know, is your integrity. So is public perception. To now reportedly hint that it would be fair enough to back off your pledge to abolish the divisive Maori seats in Parliament, because the Maori Party failed to win any, this recent election, is imply not good enough. You will be well aware that as long as the provision for the Maori seats exist, in law, they can be contested again, in a coming election.
This is an open letter to tell you how dismayed, even betrayed, so many thousands of New Zealanders will now feel if you shift your stance on your pledge to call for a referendum on at last removing these anachronistic seats in parliament. You know they are racist. You gave your pledge as a bottom line. And as far as so many of us are concerned, you were actually promising what was long recommended, so that the country can at last say – We are one – or at least strive for equality for all, under the law.
Remember the democratic principle so very conveniently sidelined in recent years – as the white-anting of our New Zealand society has undermined our foundations? This was the founding concept of modern democracy – pledging fundamental and equal rights to all people in law, regardless of colour, race, gender, or creed. Any whittling away at this fundamental principle of a genuine democracy diminishes us all.
Recent vote-buying governments, persuaded by now very wealthy and powerful iwi, have backed away from keeping their word – as National did, to its shame. This breaking of a social contract, a pledge given to voters by a party leader, was not only regarded as an act of betrayal. It also lessened even further the respect in which politicians would like to think they are held. Equally damagingly, it takes away from so many the hope that New Zealanders try to hold fast to – of a country in which they once more count, a stable, undivided, peaceful society, respecting the values of those who fought to make this a better country.
But we’re going backwards – not forwards. And retention of the outdated Maori seats, giving special advantages to those with even the very smallest part-Maori, genetic inheritance (Why?) is contributing to a growing push now towards promoting anything touching on Maori as inherently superior. Again – Why? The whitewashing of the realities of pre-European settlement country, of never-ending internecine tribal wars, of the barbarities of a ruling priestly and warrior class inflicting the cruelties of slavery, barbaric practises and the horrors of cannibalism, are no reason for regarding it as desirable that throughout the country, local government and statutory boards should be forced to kowtow to the supposedly superior insights provided by any individuals with even a sixteenth or a thirty-second genetic inheritance from the past.
You will be aware that the Auckland Council is seeking a legislative change to make an elected Maori councillor role compulsory. Incredible! Even though Auckland councillors themselves have voted 10 to five against introducing a Maori ward. As one commentator has noted, the council’s attitude now equates to (with deeply Orwellian logic…)We can’t trust the majority of the public to vote for what we want – even though we’ve relied on them voting for us – so we therefore will subvert the democratic process…”
All around the country, the opposition to forcing local bodies and government liaison committees to grant special voting rights to unelected individuals on the basis of a part-Maori inheritance has been overwhelmingly rejected, as you know. Yet not for a moment has this past National government taken any notice of the wishes of the majority.
New Zealanders are not fools, and we now have a total contradiction of democratic values and freedoms by an overbearing government, pressured by the now immensely wealthy iwi (the Maori economy now is estimated at about $50 billion dollars. Most of this has been successfully withheld by the rich tribal corporations, with their tax-free status – (Why?) – from an underclass of their own people in desperate need.
Removing the Maori seats in Parliament is a hugely important move – the very first step towards dismantling the new apartheid we have created – by which some are now more equal than others. And because of this and the vested interest these extraordinarily wealthy iwi have in promoting their own position and influence, and obtaining even more economic advantage for themselves, you will be under considerable pressure to walk away from that promise you gave the public.
You will also be under pressure because the present Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern, is trying to manipulate you into giving in to her ill-thought determination to ignore the wishes of the country and have her own way – with regard to preserving the seats.
Her attitude is inexcusable, given that able Members of Parliament of part- Maori descent are now to be found across the spectrum of political parties in Parliament. Labour itself has part-Maori members, National others. There are reportedly now 29 part-Maori MPs in total – strong proof that there is no discrimination against individuals of Maori descent winning a place in the House.
Your own credentials as leader of New Zealand First and of part-Maori descent, long recognising the damage being inflicted on the country by the retention of Maori-only seats, are considerably superior to those of Miss Ardern. She is compromising herself intellectually by refusing to acknowledge that, given a part Maori genetic inheritance is no barrier to becoming a member of Parliament, there is no possible excuse for maintaining the Maori seats. This is doubly so, given that, to date the interests of this racist party have been to wrest even more provisions from the majority of New Zealanders.
Jacinda needs to drop her born-to-rule assumption, and acknowledge that it is not up to her to decide whether or not the Maori seats should be abolished. We’ve had to put up this sort of high-handed attitude from our MPs for too long. The decision is one for the people of New Zealand – not a handful of her Labour Party insiders. It’s time for her to take that on board, not arrogantly refuse to acknowledge that the decision does not belong to a politically-motivated group completely out of touch with most New Zealanders’ objections to this racist provision.
I sincerely hope you yourself have been misreported. Because if you renege on your commitment to put the abolishing of the Maori seats to the public at large in a binding referendum, then so many New Zealanders who have put their trust in you on this issue will loathe you. They are fed up with politicians promising one thing and doing another. Moreover, your stated intention to do this will certainly have meant a rise in the number of voters looking to your party.
The feeling of anger at the maintaining of special privileges, special scholarships, special treatment given in nearly all our institutions to those with even a claimed smidgen of Maori genetic inheritance, is now widespread – with good reason.
What you were reported as saying in the National Business Review at the time will have given heart to so many. I quote: “The fact is, Maori don’t need to be told they are not good enough to be equal, or that somehow they should be handicapped, that somehow they should be pigeon-holed,” Mr Peters said.
New Zealanders have taken this to mean that this referendum will be put to the whole country. To confine it to Maori alone – as you then seemed to subsequently be considering, would hardly be logical. It would be like asking the fox to vote for the abolition of hens.
Furthermore, any move to confine the referendum to those claiming to be Maori could be challenged on legal grounds.
There is no longer any definition of Maori. The former logical definition was done away with in the mid-70s by those with their eyes to the main chance – i.e. their ability to include others in their number who were, and are, predominantly European (or of other descent) as “Maori” – in order to show a greater numerical strength – aware of the political pressure they could then wield.
But it is obviously legally possible to challenge the definition of “Maori” – when those with less than half a Maori genetic inheritance claim to be basically Maori – although they obviously aren’t – by any scientific assessment.
Canadian Judge Thomas R Berger travelled around Alaska in the late 1980s to interview the people, Indians, and Inuit, who lived in the villages. When the ANCSA (Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act) was reviewed, the cut-off point for declaring oneself of aboriginal (native) descent was a generous one. One could still be considered aboriginal (Inuit or Indian) if one had a quarter (25%) genetic inheritance. Below this, one was regarded as being predominantly not aboriginal, and therefore unable to claim this. So why are we allowing this farcical situation in New Zealand?
Many of the most vociferous claimants to disadvantage – (or, contrariwise, of superior insight) because of a purported Maori genetic inheritance – are in fact not even one-quarter Maori. Yet we have allowed them to queue up for special benefits, courtesy of the taxpayer – which is basically a rort. Moreover, the Anglican Church has been silly enough – as have others -to say that one is Maori – and is entitled to be regarded as Maori, simply- if one “feels Maori”.
This is a nonsense. If I were deranged I could possibly regard myself as an Arab – or an Australian aborigine…or even an animal of some sort. But any “feeling” I might have would be at odds with the reality that I’m none of these. .
If you change your mind, and kowtow to the present Labour leader’s claim that she will not allow the discussion in relation to your undertaking to put the future of the Maori seats to the public at large to decide (and the country had no doubt that you meant a referendum binding on all) to be part of any discussion concerning a possible coalition, then she is not only being very foolish – but you would be honour bound to reject her terms. Nor should any referendum be confined confined to Maori only. Such a proposal would face formidable legal challenges, given that there is no longer any actual definition of Maori – all of whom are now part-Maori only.
Furthermore – it is also not accurate to say that such a referendum would be relevant only to part-Maori. All other New Zealanders have been required to contribute financially to supporting the Maori seats – and so, too, the Maori Party…a prime example of the cost to the country at large of this ongoing movement to give one sector of the community special rights – at the expense of the majority.
I’m sure you personally are well aware that prioritising identity politics has been destructive and divisive to New Zealand. The only ones to benefit from it are those well and truly milking the system – at the expense of us all.
I’m afraid, Winston, that if you do not want your integrity to be doubted by those who have long supported you – because of your much-respected commitment to a unified country, it will not do for you for you to renege upon, or equivocate about, your original promise to mount a binding referendum – to be put to all the country.
Many New Zealanders have consistently supported your stated aims and defended you against your detractors. They will not want to continue to do so, if you break your word. And you would deservedly lose the respect in which many hold you for your long stand against the inherent corruption of race-based politics. We must trust you on this.
© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.
It helps a lot to SHARE or LIKE us through the social media network! https://www.facebook.com/100daystodemocracy?ref=br_tf
Help us fight for the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement!
Do help us to get our message further out by donating. See www.100days.co.nz!