CASSANDRA’S LEGACY: WE HAVE LEARNT NOTHING FROM 1995
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by Amy Brooke
As Bertrand Russell once commented, pragmatism is like a bath full of warm water heating up so imperceptibly you don’t know at which point to start screaming.
However, in embracing pragmatism, New Zealand’s political parties, including Labour and National, have abandoned a vital principle of government: even-handedness. Reacting to continual pressures, successive governments have parted company with New Zealanders as a whole, outmanoeuvred and intimidated by radicalised activists. Not only is their agenda prioritised: law and order are no longer adequately maintained.
In 1995, an article in The Economist described New Zealand as having embarked on “ethnic favouritism”, although colour-conscious programs are polarising, promoting disaffection and resentment. Yet, a succession of part-Maori activists, programmed into a deliberately nurtured grievance culture in Marxist indoctrination camps overseas, set to, spreading disaffection among their vulnerable young.
The result has been that not only young part-Maori but the country itself, including our MPs, have been sold an orchestrated litany of lies.
The deliberate promotion of fanciful misinterpretations of a long-ago Treaty of Waitangi is having tragic results. The ongoing attack on the nearly 200-year-old treaty – which unmistakably established equal rights for all, both earlier Maori immigrants to this country and the later colonists – has been deliberate. Its provisions granted to the Maori tribes important legal title to their lands held at the time – with protection against predatory buyers – and for their material possessions – their taonga.
However, the word “taonga” was stretched by the flagrantly partisan Waitangi Tribunal, described by respected media commentator Brian Priestley as “a Star Chamber”, to include pre-European, Maori ownership of airways, radio frequencies, rivers, coastal foreshores and sea beds – ludicrous claims nevertheless to some extent favoured by our governments, always with their eye on the Maori vote.
It would be hard to find today an agreement whose meaning is more inexcusably misinterpreted as a “living document”, constantly reinvented to contrive even more advantages for a small minority of part-Maori extremists. On the basis of, in many cases, a tiny percentage of Maori genetic inheritance, they conveniently overlook their far larger European ancestry while promoting resentment against colonialism and ignoring its enormous benefits.
So opportunistic have been many of the claims, that even Maori Judge Eddie Durie, long-time chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal, cautioned tribal hierarchies against withholding payment from researchers if they did not agree to suppress information querying such claims. One brave historian, in a subsequent book, confessed to removing relevant material that undermined a tribe’s claim: he was refused payment otherwise.
What is happening in New Zealand is, as elsewhere, the deliberate corruption of democracy. Destabilising activism produces a counter-culture of resentment. Preferential treatment – and the never-ending raiding of taxpayers’ pockets by well-lawyered revisionist extremists – is white-anting our once far more peaceful country.
Moreover, resentment at a prevalent bias easily slides into anger. New Zealand’s now ongoing ethnic and cultural grandstanding, for financial and political ends, ensures funding for separate institutions and provisions that our MPs effectively endorse, ensuring a basic divisiveness. The Economist well argued in 1995 that, “to the wellspring of the principle that separates church from state, another should be added. That is, the separation of race and state.”
The lesson governments should have learned from history is that appeasement does not work. In dealing with a bottomless well of inherited and induced grievances, we face not so much social but spiritual problems: of rage, hubris, envy; resentments so deep that the conflagration, inflamed by unreal expectations, cannot be contained.
If there is a need to be meet, it should be met, regardless of race. Suggestions that taxpayers should continue to fund Maori-only cultural organisations are untenable.
Thanks in part to a majority compelled to pay for never-ending claims, the Maori economy is estimated at $40 billion. So, the ongoing requirement to fund Maori television and other special benefits is inexcusable. The tribes are well able to pay for these themselves. Especially given that wealthy neo-tribal corporations devoted to self-interest pay no tax, claiming charitable exemptions.
We are slow learners in this country. The Economist quotation I recently rediscovered from 25 years ago, its findings reported in a 1995 column I wrote for The Dominion, our capital-city newspaper. What were then facts remain facts, though the situation today is even worse. The promise that all multimillion-dollar tribal claims against the government (meaning, all other New Zealanders) would be settled decades ago has long been abandoned, and the treaty gravy train rolls on, and our culpable politicians are not facing the issues.
Cassandra’s legacy is apparently part of the human condition – especially in relation to the obtuseness of our hierarchies. Due to their long inaction, the flight from reality and reason – fanned throughout Western democracies by this same grievance mentality – has also gained ground here, spreading malice, mischief and misinformation throughout what was once called the Paradise of the Pacific.