You could dismiss co-governance critics as racist – or you could consult Thomas Cranmer (and see how it has worked for Tuhoe)

To challenge the Government’s promotion of co-governance, to share power between Maori and public authorities and agencies, is to invite accusations of racism.

An example: this article by Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog headed Luxon’s race baiting hypocrisy at Ratana.

The article was triggered by National leader Christopher Luxon, speaking on the Ratana marae, claiming the co-governance conversation has  become “divisive and immature”.

Bradbury counters:

I’m sorry, who has made this debate divisive and immature?


The manner in which the Right have feverishly whipped up a conspiracy that a silent Māori coup is secretly taking over NZ via co-governance while Socialist Cindy is held hostage by WEF Communists who are implementing mass fraud using Climate Alarmist Hoaxes really highlights how fucked the political debate in this Nation over race relations has become.

When you consider the toxic bile spat at her and her family by an ungrateful nation, you understand why Jacinda quit yesterday.


Co-Governance is the EXACT model that National and ACT developed, to now decry it because post covid stress has exacerbated economic anxieties isn’t leadership, it’s gutless capitulation to the lesser angels of our nature. What I find most hilarious is those screaming that Māori are taking over can’t name 3 councillors on their own local council.

3 Waters was an attempt to serve two maters, the Waitangi Tribunal ruling into water ownership triggered by Key selling 49% of the hydro assets and the need to find a way for Local Councils to fund water infrastructure. The way it has been manufactured into a racial smear on Nanaia Mahuta and her family DESPITE DECLARING ALL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST is proof positive that the angry and confused trump any attempt at rational debate.

What is most egregious is how these small attempts at creating basic consultation between the dominant culture and the indigenous culture they signed a Treaty with is now portrayed as a giant attack on the values of Democracy!

National and ACT are being disingenuous in the extreme when they whip up the worst angels of our nature over co-governance because once you coax that anger out, you can’t ever stuff it back into the bottle.

Part of this is on Labour, they never explained what co-governance is and isn’t! Chippy must now articulate what co-governance is and I believe move it towards co-operation instead.

If Labour can’t tell Kiwis what cogovernance is and isn’t, then the Right will continue to whip up claims of a secret Māori coup to take over NZ.

For National to front at Ratana and claim a model of management they themselves had created is now suddenly divisive and immature is just outrageous race baiting hypocrisy.

Part of this is on Labour, they never explained what co-governance is and isn’t! Chippy must now articulate what co-governance is and I believe move it towards co-operation instead.

True, co-governance was introduced on John Key’s watch as prime minister.  It was intended to enable tribal leaders to share in management decisions regarding natural  resources in some parts of the country as an element of Treaty settlements.

The Labour Government has made the concept contentious – particularly in its second term in office, when it was no longer held in check by New Zealand First on Treaty issue– by applying it much more widely.

If Chris (Chippy) Hipkins can explain what co-governance actually means and its full constitutional implications, he would do the country a big favour.

He would also risk exacerbating the public’s anger and vitriolic response.

Co-governance hasn’t been explained for a reason. Even the little they know has already convinced most voters they really, really dislike it.

If people can’t wait for Hipkins to explain it, however, they might usefully read this article by Thomas Cranmer – and note (for example) how it has worked in Tuhoe country.  Badly.

Luxon talks co-governance at Rātana Pā

The National Party leader kicked off the political year with a speech at Rātana Pā that sketched out National’s approach to the controversial topic of co-governance.

On a beautiful summer’s day yesterday, National’s Christopher Luxon joined other politicians on the annual pilgrimage to Rātana Pā to celebrate the birthday of T. W. Rātana, the founder of the Rātana Church.

Notably, Luxon used his speech to address “the big topic of the day and of the last few years – which has been that word co-governance”. And despite some criticism from Carmel Sepuloni and Marama Davidson for raising the issue yesterday, it was undoubtedly the right time and the right forum to broach the topic.

Luxon observed that, “I think it has been quite a divisive and immature conversation over recent years, and I personally think it’s because the government hasn’t been upfront or transparent with the New Zealand people about where it’s going and what it’s doing.”

“We believe in a single coherent system – not one system for Māori and another system for non-Māori – for the delivery of public services. Things like health, education, and justice, and critical infrastructure like three waters.”

“It doesn’t mean that we don’t want Māori involved in decision-making and partnering with Māori, we have a principal objection because New Zealand has one government: it’s elected by all of us, it’s accountable to all of us, and its public services are available to anyone who needs them.”

This is an entirely sensible point of view, and is one which is consistent with the terms of the Treaty. Whether it goes far enough, however, is an open question.

Co-governance has largely been confined to the management of natural resources and has usually been part of a Treaty settlement process. More recently, however, it has begun to expand into local government and public services.

But even within natural resources, co-governance has had mixed success at best.

The obvious example is Te Urewera which has been in the news recently due to friction between Tūhoe and Te Uru Taumatua (TUT), the Tūhoe governance body for Te Urewera, over the destruction of hunting huts. The disagreement has also revealed that the relationship between TUT and the Crown has entirely broken down, with almost no communication between the parties over the last two years.

The people of Tūhoe feel utterly let down by the current state of affairs. As part of these co-governance arrangements, iwi usually form a Post-Settlement Governance Entity (PSGE) which enters into the governance arrangements with the Crown on behalf of the iwi. In the case of Te Urerewa, the PSGE was TUT.

But as one Tūhoe elder recounted during last year’s protests, what has happened is that a small number of tribal elite that make up the majority of the board of TUT have ignored the wishes of the iwi on a number of issues and have decided to act as they please. Any concerns raised by the iwi to the Crown have been rebuffed as it only wants to deal with the PSGE. As a result, iwi members feel just as disenfranchised as they did before the co-governance arrangements were put in place.

In this sense, co-governance can be seen to only benefit the tribal elite and not iwi members. If that is the case, then the question needs to be asked whether co-governance is the most effective means to manage natural assets and whether the Crown’s Treaty obligations to Māoridom can be better satisfied with different arrangements.

Without doubt, the Treaty does not, by its terms, require co-governance to be utilized in any scenario. Some will disagree with that assessment but if that’s the case, then honest and respectful debate should be encouraged about the meaning of the Treaty.

The concept is actually a relative newcomer to Treaty interpretation. Co-governance was certainly never mentioned in the three years that I spent in the Māori Studies department at Auckland University in the 1990s, nor at Law School during the same time. Sovereignty was the hot topic of the day that excited Ranginui Walker and Jane Kelsey.

By contrast, co-governance has become more prominent since New Zealand became a signatory to the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Treaty academics have looked to other countries for examples of constitutional arrangements with their First Peoples.

One country that has been cited at least twice in Cabinet Papers by Ministers Mahuta and Jackson as an example of a model constitutional arrangement is Bolivia. It is of interest to New Zealand Treaty academics because Bolivia has instituted what is described as a ‘pluralistic democracy’ which allows for self-determination of their First Peoples within their tribal lands, and which includes legal pluralism.

Bolivia, of course, is a very different country to New Zealand but there is a feeling that we are importing governance frameworks from overseas and then employing very strained and tenuous interpretations of the Treaty in order to find justification for them. We obviously should resist any such efforts.

Rather than replicating another model, we should be clear about what the Treaty requires, and discuss in an open and transparent manner how best we think New Zealand should be governed.

My previous articles on the current breakdown in the co-governance arrangements relating to Te Urewera are the following:

      • Te Urewera is Not co-governance is here (31 October 2022).
      • Tūhoe vs Tūhoe – the Rumble in the Jungle is here (10 November 2022).
      • ‘We made a National Park disappear’ is here (14 November 2022).

4 thoughts on “You could dismiss co-governance critics as racist – or you could consult Thomas Cranmer (and see how it has worked for Tuhoe)

  1. Now I know for sure that Martyn Bradbury is totally mixed up because he’s now talking out of his arsehole. The poor man needs to be placed in mental hospital, in a padded cell, in a straitjacket. And that is just to protect him from himself.


  2. Co-governance as set out in the 3/5 Waters legislation means control of all water by the iwi elites. See Te Mana O Te Wai directives, which are binding on water services providers and which only Maori can issue, and the disproportionate 50 percent representation by iwi and the 75% majority requirement for decision-making. I would call that a coup in that vital assets have been seized from the communities who built them and given over to control by one ethnic group with little accountability, either to the public or Parliament.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.