Finlayson calls for a robust debate on co-governance – but then he disparages naysayers as “the sour right” and “losers”

Co-governance was aired by The Detail team on Radio New Zealand this morning in a broadcast which featured former Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, who also served as Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

Reporting on the broadcast, Newroom said The Detail had examined the question “what is co-governance?” and had found out it’s not a new concept.


Did they not know about the co-governing of the Waikato River as a consequence of the Tainui Treaty settlement, or about several similar arrangements that have accompanied other treaty settlements?

Having acknowledged the concept is not new, the Newsroom report further said

“… naysayers are being urged to get on board with it.”

But should we be urged to get on board in all circumstances without pausing to ask what purpose is being served and at what level of public administration co-governance becomes egregiously undemocratic?

Apparently not.  According to the Newsroom report:

The Government’s been under pressure to explain what it means by co-governance in the wake of its water and health reforms. 

But as former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson explains, the concept itself is nothing new. 

He says it’s time to accept it and go with the flow. 

The Detail has also talked to Federation of Māori Authorities Chair Traci Houpapa,

“.. who has borne the brunt of angry abuse.”

Not for opposing co-governance, you can be sure.

She is quoted as saying:

“People are saying to me: ‘Why do you Māori want to change things?’ ‘Why are you after power and control or funding?’ ‘Why do you think you have any right to talk about co-governance?'”  

She says if the word partnership is used instead of co-governance,

“… then maybe people will feel more comfortable about it”.

If Newsroom provided a balanced account of the broadcast, no-one was asked to articulate contrary viewpoints.

It refers only to the contributions by Finlayson and Houpapa, although Finlayson said there’s room for robust debate about the co-governance model between the Crown and iwi and hapū.

But his idea of “robust debate” does not mean discussion should focus only on the issue.  If Finlayson was playing football, he would be a candidate for a red card.

Newsroom reports:

Finlayson’s advice for dealing with the “sour right” behind the racist, resentful rhetoric: “We’ve just got to leave those losers behind and move on.

“They don’t like tangata whenua. They dream of a world that never was and never could be,” he says. 

Just a few weeks ago, referring to the idea of bulk funding iwi if that could address some deep-seated social ills, a fellow named Chris Finlayson warned that any discussions or debate should deal with principle and not include inflammatory language, adding it is not in the public interest and we need to steer clear of hyperbole.

Was it the same fellow?

Newsroom reminds us that Finlayson set up a number of co-governance arrangements during his time as a National government minister between 2008 and 2017.

Finlayson takes The Detail back to the ground-breaking signing of the Treaty settlement between the Crown and Tainui in 1995, and explains how the settlement over raupatu claims led to the formation of the Waikato River Authority. 

It became the genesis of other co-governance arrangements, giving iwi an opportunity to participate directly with local or regional government to provide advice or take part in the management of a particular resource. 

More than that, Finlayson was a key player in the promotion of co-governance.

In a recent post, Point of Order noted there had been plenty of ministerial references to co-management arrangements on the Beehive website  before  2009  – when co-governance kicked in – and in ministerial statements since then.

In December 2009, Finlayson announced the Crown and Waikato-Tainui had signed a revised deed of settlement in relation to their historical Treaty claims over the Waikato River.

He mentioned “co-governance”.

But when Michael Cullen had been Minister in charge of Treaty Negotiations in August 2008, he had used the word “co-management” in his speech at the signing of the deed of settlement with Tainui.

And a few weeks later, speaking in Parliament to move that the Waikato Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Bill be read a first time, he said

“This legislation focuses on those relationships to establish an innovative co-management regime for the Waikato River.”

But was Finlayson the first Minister to go out and bat for co-governance?

More research is required before we can give him credit for that.

2 thoughts on “Finlayson calls for a robust debate on co-governance – but then he disparages naysayers as “the sour right” and “losers”

  1. No I do not agree with co governance.
    The Treaty says the opposite. Maori. Gave soverignty to the Queen
    No where is there reference to Partnership……. some clowns in robes. Called for that…. supposed to be educated !!
    We have to stop the nonsense and realise we are all. NZ ‘ S

    Liked by 2 people

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