Proposals for constitutional change are aired – and the prospects of NZ remaining a democracy look bleak

Donations of further Pfizer vaccines to Tonga and Samoa, a commendation for the people of the West Coast and their response to the severe weather of recent days, and congratulations for snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott on winning the gold medal in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle final at the Winter Olympics in Beijing were the subjects of Beehive announcements over the weekend.

The PM posted her Treaty of Waitangi speech in which she promoted the “Treaty partnership”, which (because of increasing co-governance) portends constitutional change and the diminution of our democratic arrangements.  In a separate statement she paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at the start of her Platinum Jubilee year, and on behalf of New Zealanders thanked her for 70 years of service.

Maori Party co-leaders more provocatively demanded the Queen be dumped as our Head of State.  

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer called for the removal of the British royal family as head of state and the dismantling of the country’s democratic governance arrangements to

“… move Aotearoa to a Te Tiriti o Waitangi based nation”.

The Treaty – which refers to New Zealand but not to Aotearoa – is a document which was signed in 1840 by representatives of Maori tribes and the Crown.

The Maori Party is declaring its intent to be rid of the Crown component, which raises fascinating questions about what the Treaty relationship then will look like and how the country will be governed.  

Ngarewa-Packer referred to her party’s Mana Motuhake policy, describing it (few would disagree) as a revolutionary plan.   Implementing it would include establishing a Māori Parliament and implementing all Matike Mai recommendations “for constitutional transformation”.

The Treaty Settlement process would be overhauled and land returned to whānau, hapū and iwi. 

 “The only way this nation can work is when Māori assert their rights to self-management, self-determination, and self-governance over all our domains. Our vision is for constitutional transformation that restores the tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua in this country” says Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. 

She is telling us that without a comprehensive upheaval in our constitutional arrangements, including the establishment of a Maori Parliament, we are doomed to become a failed country.

But wait. It looks suspiciously like “the Crown” in some undefined form will be expected to carry on helping Maori – by contributing lots of money? – after the dismantling of our democracy and the severing of a relationship with the descendants of Queen Victoria.  

This is to be discerned from co-leader Rawiri Waititi’s bemusing reference to a marriage break-up:

“If you look at our founding covenant as a marriage between tangata whenua and the Crown, then Te Tiriti is the child of that marriage. It’s time tangata whenua to take full custody of Te Tiriti o Waitangi from the Crown” says co-leader Rawiri Waititi 

“This won’t mean the Crown is off the hook. If a couple gets divorced, you don’t lose responsibility for your child. This will be an opportunity to reimagine a more meaningful and fulfilling partnership, between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti.”

The Crown is being regarded as the main income-earning parent and Waititi wants a hefty wad of alimony paid to someone. 

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson was also pushing constitutional and governance change:

“For me Tiriti justice requires that tangata whenua and the Crown truly share power.”

She spoke as a Minister of the Crown whose objective (will it be reached on Ardern’s watch as PM?) is to grant much more political power to a 17 per cent minority group of the population on the basis of their race:

“And I am also a Crown Minister. This highlights the responsibility of the Crown to relinquish more power while Māori wrestle back authority over our communities, lands and resources. I am not satisfied yet, but I put all the kaha I can into laying the foundations for this devolution of power in my Ministerial and political work.

“I know that not only is this the just and right thing to do under the promise of Te Tiriti but that this will lead to a more equitable country for EVERYONE. A truer partnership between government and communities, will offer us more lasting solutions for people to have what they need to live with dignity. There is no better pathway for equity in Aotearoa than to uplift the mana of Te Tiriti.

“This is the vision for constitutional transformation in Aotearoa.”

Davidson then invoked the Maori spiritualism which increasingly is being incorporated into government science policy, funding and teaching.

“We can honour Papatūānuku as we strive for good lives and justice for ALL and not just for the wealthy few.”

Here at Point of Order, we checked out Papatūānuku:  

Papatūānuku – mother earth

In Māori tradition, Papatūānuku is the land. She is a mother earth figure who gives birth to all things, including people. Trees, birds and people are born from the land, which then nourishes them. Some traditions say that the land first emerged from under water.

Creation story

In the Māori creation story, Papatūānuku had many children with Ranginui, the sky father. Their children pushed them apart to let in the light. The children had more children, including birds, fish, winds and water. They became the ancestors of everything in the world today.

“Partnership” popped up in the Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day speech, too.  

 While she and her government are implementing a programme which divides the country racially – the establishment of a separate Maori Health Authority, for example – she spoke of the need to continue to use every opportunity to “join our two worlds” and the need “to work in partnership to improve outcomes for Māori, and for all New Zealanders.”

Take a note of the language.  The PM has divided the country into “Maori” and “all New Zealanders”. 

She also has raised interesting questions about our history 

“We are a country that takes pride in our heritage. A small island nation in the Pacific with voyaging roots from both Hawaiki and Europe.  Across Aotearoa there are stories of our arrival, stories of settlement, stories of conflict and of unity, of hope and hardship. These stories are our stories. And learning, sharing and acknowledging these stories that trace back to many different shores is crucial to our connections to one another.”

If our ancestors came here by boat, they came from somewhere else. But where is Hawaiki? 

No-one knows.

Māori and Pākehā alike have wondered about the true location of Hawaiki. The actual location has never been confirmed, and it is uncertain if it is a real, physical island, or a mythical place. Some have associated Hawaiki with the Tahitian island Ra‘iātea (Rangiātea, in Māori). Like Hawaiki, Rangiātea is seen as both a physical and spiritual place.

But what – we wonder – does sailing from there to here mean for claims to be indigenous?

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8 thoughts on “Proposals for constitutional change are aired – and the prospects of NZ remaining a democracy look bleak

  1. An interesting question about Maori allegedly being indigenous posed by a commenter on Karl du Fresne’s blog:
    “The Polynesian rat [kiore], and the Peruvian kumara, which the Polynesian/Maori settlers brought with them in their canoes, are never described as being ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’ to New Zealand.
    The rat is described as an ‘introduced species from Polynesia’ which is a threat to the native, indigenous plant and bird species of New Zealand.
    The kumara is recognised as being a sweet potato, indigenous to South America.
    Why then are Polynesian/Maori settlers who came here about 600 years ago described as ‘indigenous’ to New Zealand?
    When the Polynesian/Maori settlers arrived here, they encountered truly indigenous species, such as kiwi, moa, tui, kereru, kauri, rimu etc, etc….”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The tuatara is indigenous to this country, humans are not. To describe Maori as “indigenous” here is a nonsense, they were clearly, as told by their own accounts, indigenous to Hawaiki. Ardern and her cabal are engaged in a coup against New Zealand’s democracy. There was no discussion of 15/85 per cent race-based “co-governance” in the “COVID election”, as Ardern herself proclaimed it to be, in 2020. These ideas do not enjoy the support of most New Zealanders and must be resolutely opposed.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Random impertinent question – if the Queen is dumped then so too is the Crown, so would there be any Treaty of Waitangi to consider? It would just be another quaint historical document – no?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If it is a divorce, do other children get to choose which parent they live with? And I don’t ever recall a divorce in which one sibling is required to financially support the other siblings.


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