Dr Brian McDonnell says one standard of citizenship for all

Dr Brian McDonnell says one standard of citizenship for all

A New Zealand academic of Maori, Irish and French descent believes the pendulum has swung too far in redressing Maori grievances.

Dr Brian McDonnell, a senior lecturer in film studies at Massey University, says New Zealand’s “polite middle ground has become too fawning and the government too accommodating to the shrill cries of extremists”.


“Maori people have certainly been marginalised in the past and there are specific wrongs to be righted, but it’s time to draw back to the centre.

“In an effort to be nice you can be seen as a soft touch, so who can blame Maori groups for asking for the stars when the government and the Auckland Council seem ready to grant power and funds while ignoring democratic processes.

“It has been the move to enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in a written or more formalised constitution that I feel should be the ‘bridge too far’ for well-meaning, reasonable, moderate people, both Maori and Pakeha, to say ‘enough’.

“I would certainly place myself among their number and for me it is not Maori bashing to say so.

“I am part-Maori and I want success for all Maori people, but I think dependence on a Treaty-burdened constitution will not help Maori, as its advocates claim.”

Dr McDonnell believes such a constitution will trap Maori in a “suffocating self-definition as in need of special pleading and a special status”.

“True equality comes with being treated as responsible adults who shoulder responsibilities as well as crying out for rights.

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Kapiti News Article 22/6/16

Kapiti News
From the Kapiti News 22/6/16
(All New Zealanders should read this)

In his June 15 letter, entitled “Confusing”, Fred Te Maro made a number of errors that require correction. He labelled me as being anti Maori. This is completely untrue, I am most definitely pro Maori. I am standing up for the ones who have no voice, the ones I grew up with in Cannons Creek and are forgotten in the money scramble they call Treaty settlements.

But I am anti Maori leaders. They have done nothing for their people except create an atmosphere of entitlement based around false interpretations of our history and Fred’s letter is the perfect example of it. He starts out by painting a dark picture of colonisation and calls his people victims, yet they have come from the Stone Age to the space age in a little over 150 years. They have a preferential status in New Zealand and more than equal opportunity to be whatever they want to be. Something unheard of before colonisation.

However, Fred tells his people this is what it feels like to be a victim. He then states that because initially only individual land owners could vote, this dispossessed Maori of their land. However, voting was something no Maori was able to do before colonisation. He forgot to mention or doesn’t know that greedy chiefs had sold over two thirds of New Zealand’s land mass to speculators before 1840. It was the colonisers land courts which nullified these deeds and returned the land to the chiefs, incidentally without them having to give back the purchase price.

Post the Treaty the chiefs promptly set about selling it all over again. Only about four percent of the land in New Zealand was confiscated because of acts of war, most of which was soon returned. Maori chiefs sold the rest. He forgot to mention that in 1853 European men and all women who didn’t own land could not vote either, not just Maori. He also forgot to mention that in 1867 all Maori men aged 21 or over were eligible to vote, Maori men achieved universal suffrage 12 years before European men. I don’t hear European men crying out as victims though.

Wi Parata was claiming back land gifted to the Anglican Church, not the Crown. He was using the Treaty as a means to try to get it back and quite rightly he was told the Treaty was a legal nullity, which it remains today. The Treaty has no independent legal status and the government are not legally bound to do any-thing because of the Treaty. It chooses to, usually in return for Maori votes, this is scandalous.

Fred has the opportunity to read the same history as me, be positive and encourage his people to be proud of their achievements. He can project himself as a role model, particularly for the poor that need his obvious standing in the community. Alas, he prefers to look at the dark side, project it through our papers and hold his hand out because of the apparent “many breaches”, thinking that this will help his people. Statistics show it hasn’t in the past, it won’t in the future and his people will continue to be the major part our underclass if their leaders do not change their dark and greedy sense of entitlement.

Until they do I stand as an advocate for positive Maori who are proud of their achievements, don’t have their hand out and love their country, many of whom are my friends and family.
Raumati Beach

Call to treat Kiwis equally


Decisions should be made by local government elected by all citizens

“Several decades ago . . . we started the nonsense of imagining that the Treaty contained ‘principles’ that nobody has yet been able to find in the document itself.”

IN THE Wanganui Chronicle of May 20, Whanganui MP Chester Borrows made a number of assertions, including about me, which require a reply.

First let me say that I have long admired Mr Borrows. He has a genuine concern for the well-being of all our citizens, especially those who have had a tough upbringing. I was delighted when he became a Member of Parliament in 2005 when I was leader of the National Party.

But in my opinion he is quite wrong on Maori issues. He accuses the “same old culprits — Don Brash, Muriel Newman, Winston Peters, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all” — of having “not a shred of evidence” for claiming that “the Government is about to sign away to Maori the ownership of water”.

But the consultation document which the Government itself issued makes it abundantly clear that, if the proposals in that document are adopted, iwi will have a significant say in the allocation of water.

What is ownership if not the right to decide what happens to an asset? To date, decisions about the allocation of water have been made by local governments, elected by all citizens regardless of race, and that’s how it should be. The Government’s proposals envisage a radical change in that arrangement, with iwi “able to participate in decisionmaking about fresh water in their rohe”.

The consultation document notes that proposed amendments to the RMA provide for so-called “iwi participation agreements”, which will “require councils to invite iwi to discuss and agree on how iwi may participate in planning” [my emphasis].

The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori rights over the property they owned in 1840. Some of that property was sold by Maori, some was taken unfairly by the Crown — and for this reason compensation has been paid more than a century later. And that’s appropriate. But at no time have Maori claimed to own water, and even had they made such a claim, the Water and Soil Conservation Act of 1967 made it abundantly clear that water is owned by nobody.

Mr Borrows quotes a comment I made in a 60-second conversation we had as we met very briefly a few weeks ago, and notes that I want to take race relations back 40 years ago. What I was trying to assert was that for most of our history successive governments have taken seriously Governor Hobson’s statement as Maori chiefs signed the Treaty that we are now all one people.

Several decades ago, in the late 80s actually (so 30 years ago), we started the nonsense of imagining that the Treaty contained “principles” that nobody has yet been able to find in the document itself, nor to adequately define. We started to pretend that the Treaty really involved a “partnership” of equals between Maori chiefs and their descendants on the one hand and the Crown on the other.

But the very first clause of the Treaty states that “the chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes and the other chiefs who have not joined the confederation, cede to the Queen of England forever the entire sovereignty of their country”. Doesn’t sound like a partnership of equals — or any other kind of partnership — to me!

In defending the proposal to introduce Maori wards in New Plymouth, Mr Borrows asserts that “wards have been part of New Zealand democracy forever”. But those wards were never based on the ethnicity of one’s ancestors except in the case of the Maori electorates in Parliament. And those Maori electorates, established in 1867 for five years, have long outlived their relevance. There are just seven Maori electorates but more than 20 Maori Members of Parliament.

Mr Borrows protests that “no Maori has ever won a general seat campaigning on Maori issues”. But what, pray, are “Maori issues”? For most Maori, I suspect the issues they most care about are the ability to access healthcare when they need it, the quality of the local school, and the ability to afford adequate housing — exactly the same issues which everybody else is concerned about.

Bill English committed a future National Government to scrapping Maori electorates. I agreed with him then and I agree with him now. It’s well past time when we should be treating all New Zealanders as equal before the law, and dealing with need where required, not on the basis of the race of one’s ancestors.

By Dr Don Brash

Wanganui Chronicle 7/616