Jackson explains co-governance in terms of democracy and equity – but don’t look too hard at what 50:50 means down south

Anyone bothered by the insidious spread of Treaty-based co-governance arrangements will have been enlightened if not reassured by Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson’s defence of the concept when questioned by Jack Tame at the weekend.

Co-governance is shared decision-making and partnership and it is democratic because democracy has changed, he explained.

At least, that’s what Point of Order thinks he was saying.

So how has democracy changed?

Well, under co-governance Maori would have the same representation as non-Maori on the proposed Three Waters bodies that administer the management of water services.  This would be done because Article Three of the Treaty gives Māori an opportunity in terms of an equitable right …

“That’s not a superior right, that’s an equitable right. Why would you not buy into Māori working in terms of the Three Waters.”

According to this reasoning, we should not get too excited about numbers.  Equitability would translate into a proposal to give Ngai Tahu the same clout as around 20 elected councils over the management of South Island water services.    

  • One lot of co-governors would represent Ngai Tahu, a tribal business entity that claims the affiliation of 68,000 people,
  • The other lot would represent 20 or so councils representing around 750,000 people.

Or if you prefer to use 2018 census figures, they show Maori comprise 110,301 (10%) of a total South Island population of 1,104,531

The 23 local authorities serve ALL of the people who live within their boundaries.

Yep.  This is democratic in Willie Jackson’s book of modern constitutional theory.

“This is a democracy now where you take into account the needs of people, their diverse needs, minority needs.  It’s not the tyranny of the majority any more. That’s what this democracy is set upon…   That is what co-management and co-government is all about.”

Jackson was dismissive of ACT leader David Seymour’s view of democracy entailing one person, one vote. It’s more than that, he insisted – it’s about diversity.

Tane asked:  why does the government want more co-governance?

Jackson replied that it has been beneficial, particularly in natural resource areas, and it will close the socio-economic gaps between Māori  and non-Māori;

Moreover, Jackson acknowledged, co-governance is a way for the Crown to honour its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

We should not be surprised, therefore, to find co-governance promoted in the Ministry for the Environment’s just released discussion paper titled Adapt and thrive: Building a climate-resilient New Zealand.

The draft National Adaptation Plan outlines the actions the Government will take over the next six years to respond to the priority climate-related risks identified in the 2020 National Climate Change Risk Assessment.

“Managed retreat” is one of the issues canvassed.

The paper says:

Managed retreat raises unprecedented governance issues and complex policy and funding challenges. These cannot be adequately addressed as part of other legislation. Given the scale of the issues (geographic, economic and social), these challenges also require central government involvement.

New legislation is in the offing, in other words, and officials have identified five key objectives and six principles to guide the development of this legislation.

Among the principles:

Iwi/Māori are represented in governance and management and have direct input and influence in managed retreat processes, and outcomes for Iwi/Māori are supported  

Managed retreat is described as an approach to reduce or eliminate exposure to intolerable risk.

It includes the idea of strategically relocating assets, activities and sites of cultural significance (to Māori and non-Māori) away from at-risk areas within a planned period of time.

It should be enough to talk of sites of cultural significance. But the government has created an ideological framework in which it has become necessary to explain that – in this case – both Māori and non-Māori sites are being considered.

The paper proceeds to explain that managed retreat in many circumstances will require the transfer of land.

Planning rules can stipulate that the current use of land cannot continue (for example, residential use).  But this is not likely to be sufficient.

This could create practical issues relating to access, rates, public health and ongoing management of the land (including responsibility and liability for harm caused by structures left on the land or inadequate clean-up of existing soil contamination).

It also brings the Treaty into play:

Careful consideration should be given to Māori land (as described under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act) and land acquired through Treaty settlement processes. Preventing the use of these lands could be viewed by Māori as land confiscation and a serious breach of Te Tiriti by the Crown.

Separate processes providing for Māori land and Treaty settlement land may need to be considered to ensure these unique legislative arrangements are protected and the Crown’s Te Tiriti obligations are upheld.

Discriminatory policies are portended in some of the questions presented for feedback.

  • Are there actions that would advance the role of Māori as kaitiaki in a changing climate?
  • Are there actions central government should consider to better promote the use of mātauranga Māori and Māori urban design principles to support adaptation of homes, buildings and places?
  • How do you think Māori land (including Treaty settlement land) should be treated?

Climate Change Minister James Shaw urged all New Zealanders to read the plan and make a submission, to help create resilient communities where our homes and the places we love are protected for generations to come.  It’s good advice.

5 thoughts on “Jackson explains co-governance in terms of democracy and equity – but don’t look too hard at what 50:50 means down south

  1. The thing is Mr Jackson has such a simplistic view of democracy. Perhaps he should listen to his leader and adopt a sophisticated approach to democracy. We have a sophisticated democracy where everyone has equal say and equal opportunity to participate, This sophisticated model rises above the previous models of governance that involved feudalism, participation of only a select few or a select race (or caste,) or a select gender.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “This is a democracy now where you take into account the needs of people, their diverse needs, minority needs. It’s not the tyranny of the majority any more. That’s what this democracy is set upon… That is what co-management and co-government is all about.”

    But not for white South Africans, Remember when New Zealanders were preaching about the evils of “apartheid” well guess what – now it’s your turn to bend over and take it in the “tokhes” enjoy it because no one is coming to your aid.


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