The PM is telling us power resides in the ownership of water assets, so we shouldn’t fret about how much muscle Maori can flex

It sounded curiously like something out of a Marxist textbook – the notion that power sits with ownership.  

The relationship between ownership and power – it seems – should be more important to us than the issue of representation in the country’s democratic institutions or the concept of one person, one vote. 

The Prime Minister might try explaining her ideas to the good people of Canterbury, after her government’s MPs enthusiastically voted in support of legislation which ends equality of suffrage in procedures for electing councillors to the Canterbury Regional Council.  All residents will get to vote for the elected councillors (so far, so good), but residents who belong to the Ngai Tahu tribe get two more councillors, appointed by tribal leaders, for reasons that boil down to ancestry.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene, speaking during the third reading debate, said the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Amendment Bill was

“… about the evolution of our treaty partnership and representation of Māori, of iwi at the local government level”.

These are ominous words, portending the bill will serve as a model for other Māori tribes in their push for the so-called “Treaty partnership” to be given tangible expression in all forms of government.

Next on the Government’s agenda – aiming for 50 per cent Māori/50 per cent Crown representation – is the government’s plan to have all local authority water assets come under the administration and management of four new structures under the Three Waters programme.

Continue reading “The PM is telling us power resides in the ownership of water assets, so we shouldn’t fret about how much muscle Maori can flex”

Ngai Tahu are given governance privileges in Canterbury and Willie Jackson gives us a rundown on “the new democracy”

Concerns about the constitutional implications of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill were overwhelmed by a tsunami of Labour hubris and ballyhoo in Parliament yesterday.  The weight of numbers against upholding liberal democratic values  in the governance of our local authorities resulted in the Bill being supported by 77 votes (Labour 65; Green Party 10;  Māori Party 2) to 43 (National 33; ACT 10).

And so – because a highly contentious interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi has been deemed to over-ride the notion that all citizens should have equal rights – one group of people in Canterbury will be spared the need to campaign for electoral support and can simply appoint representatives to two permanent seats on the Canterbury Regional Council.

As National’s Paul Goldsmith explained during the debate, the legislation allows for 14 councillors in Canterbury to be elected by everyone in the community, including Māori.  And then, after those 14 councillors are elected, Ngāi Tahu will appoint two more.

“So, this is not a question of Māori wards in Canterbury, proportional to the population and democratically elected. It is about the appointments of two councillors on top of what has been a one person, one vote election.” Continue reading “Ngai Tahu are given governance privileges in Canterbury and Willie Jackson gives us a rundown on “the new democracy””

Democracy, the Treaty and the coup that is embedding tribal rule into our regulatory and legislative framework

By Muriel Newman

Finally, the mainstream media is reporting that a coup is under way in New Zealand – by the Māori tribal elite.

Admittedly that observation was penned by former Labour Minister and ACT Party leader Richard Prebble in an opinion piece for the Herald – but the newspaper published it and Radio NZ reported it.

The on-line Herald headline read “Three Waters is a coup — an attack on democracy”.

That bold and compelling headline, however, didn’t last. It was changed to remove the words “a coup” and now reads: “Three Waters is an attack on democracy”.

The obvious question is why?

A clue comes from an article written last year by political journalist Andrea Vance, about Jacinda Ardern’s PR machine:

The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened. At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information.”

She then explained,

“And the prime minister’s office makes sure its audience is captured, starting the week and cementing the agenda with a conference call with political editors.”

So, did a member of the Prime Minister’s Office contact the Herald and ask them to change the headline? Continue reading “Democracy, the Treaty and the coup that is embedding tribal rule into our regulatory and legislative framework”

Buzz from the Beehive – Mahuta tries to mollify us about co-governance by not mentioning it in her Three Waters statement

Just when you thought it was safe to talk about water and democratic accountability…

Yep. Along comes Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta – taking time out from foreign affairs duties, promoting and protecting our interests in the Pacific – with legislation to give effect to the Three Waters programme and governance proposals which many local authorities oppose.

Her press statement is a deft piece of work. It makes no mention of “co-governance,” “partnership” or “the Treaty.”

But not mentioning sharks does not mean our waters are free of them. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – Mahuta tries to mollify us about co-governance by not mentioning it in her Three Waters statement”

Chris Trotter: Nanaia Mahuta’s super-narrative and the blind eye of our mainstream news media

 The Ardern Government risks the emergence of what political commentator CHRIS TROTTER calls a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. Here’s what he posted on  his Bowalley Road blog ….  

 

WHETHER NANAIA MAHUTA followed the conflict-of-interest rules set out in The Cabinet Manual hardly matters. A dangerous political narrative is forming around the appointment of, and awarding of contracts to, Mahuta’s whanau in circumstances that, at the very least, raise serious questions about this Government’s political judgement. Enlarging this narrative is the growing public perception that the mainstream news media is refusing to cover a story that would, in other circumstances, have attracted intense journalistic interest. The conflation of these two, highly damaging narratives with a third – the even more negative narrative of “co-governance” – has left the Labour Government in an extremely exposed and vulnerable position.

The Government’s failure to adequately prepare the New Zealand public for what Labour clearly regards as the inevitability of co-governance hasn’t helped. The party did not campaign on the issue, and kept He Puapua, the controversial “road-map” to full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – i.e. co-governance – by 2040, under wraps. Similarly unheralded was the Government’s determination to establish a separate Māori Health Authority. And the application of co-governance principles to Mahuta’s deeply unpopular “Three Waters” project has done nothing to allay public fears that the country is being changed, in fundamental ways, without the electorate’s consent.

The apparent failure of the mainstream news media to follow up on the story is being attributed to the extraordinary conditions attached to the Public Interest Journalism Fund administered by New Zealand On Air. In essence, these conditions require media outlets in receipt of the Fund’s largesse to subscribe in advance to a highly contentious series of propositions concerning the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly to the Waitangi Tribunal’s claim the Māori never ceded sovereignty to the British Crown, and that this “fact” requires the Fund’s recipients to accept and support the “partnership” model of Crown-Māori relations. The fear expressed by independent journalists is that the net effect of these conditions will be unquestioning mainstream media support for co-governance.

Since the widespread assumption among Pakeha New Zealanders is that co-governance and representative democracy are fundamentally incompatible, Labour’s willingness to be presented as co-governance’s friend runs the risk of being cast as democracy’s enemy.

Of even greater concern is the inevitability of this anti-democratic characterisation being extended to an ever-increasing fraction of the Māori population. Statements from Māori leaders appearing to discount the importance of, or even disparage, the principles of democracy have done little to slow this process. Neither have the intemperate statements of the former National Party Minister for Treaty Settlements, Chris Finlayson. His comment to the online magazine E-Tangata, describing those opposed to co-governance as “the KKK brigade”, merely reinforces the widespread public perception that the slightest public opposition to the proposed changes will bring down accusations of racism upon the opponent’s head.

The problem with this willingness to indulge in ad hominem attacks on people holding genuine reservations about the Government’s proposals is that more and more of them will decide that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and embrace the very racism of which they stand accused. In this context, the revelations that some members of a Māori Minister of the Crown’s whanau have been the recipients of Government funds, and appointed to roles not unrelated to the furtherance of the Minister’s policies, will be taken as confirmation that all is not as it should be in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

What began as an anti-co-governance narrative, and then merged with an anti-mainstream news media narrative, risks joining with a much older and more deeply entrenched narrative concerning the entire Treaty settlement process. This is the narrative that identifies the primary beneficiaries of Treaty settlements as a collection of Crown-assembled tribal elites, along with their legal and commercial advisers. Over the past thirty years these “Neo-Tribal Capitalists” have been accused of investing hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer dollars in what amount to private tribal corporations, over which the intended recipients of these funds – hapu and whanau – exercise only the most indirect authority and receive only the most meagre of rewards.

The result could very easily be the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. In this super-narrative, the structures set forth in He Puapua to secure tino rangatiratanga, will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power. The only positive consequence of which will be a common struggle for political and economic equality in which non-elite Māori and Pakeha will have every incentive to involve themselves.

The painful irony of this super-narrative scenario is that Labour will have positioned itself as its cause – not its remedy. Rather than repeating in the Twenty-First Century the fruitful political alliance between the Pakeha working-class and the victims/survivors of the deals done between the Crown and the Māori aristocracy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth, Labour will be seen to have facilitated the creation of a Treaty Partnership that not only undermines democracy, but also exacerbates the inequality between Māori and Pakeha, Pakeha and Pakeha, Māori and Māori.

What lies ahead, as the institutions of co-governance take shape, is the coming together of two very privileged birds of a feather: the Pakeha professionals and managers who have taken command of the society and economy created by Neoliberalism, and the Māori professionals and managers created to produce and operate the cultural and economic machinery of Neo-Tribal Capitalism.

This, ultimately, will be the spectre that arises out of the controversy swirling around Nanaia Mahuta. The spectre of the worst of both the Pakeha and the Māori worlds. Worlds in which the powerful trample all over the weak. Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques. And where the petty advantages of separation are elevated above the liberating effects of unity. Where “Aotearoa” creates two peoples out of one.

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.

Really?

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

Why the public distrust the news media – it’s a matter of suspecting state subsidies have turned their watchdog into a muted mutt

The BFD blog has posted an article in the name of Family First today headed “Public  not happy with govt funding of media”.

And how did Family First find out about the level of public dissatisfaction?

Not from the mainstream media, you can be sure.

No, they learned it from the Taxpayers’ Union, an organisation which has been admirably informative in telling us how much money has been dispensed to which news media for what purpose.  Its tracking of grants paid from the Public Interest Journalism Fund can be found here.

The Taxpayers’ Union, moreover, can tell us what the public thinks about the consequences because it commissioned a poll to find out.

It then reported the troubling results: Continue reading “Why the public distrust the news media – it’s a matter of suspecting state subsidies have turned their watchdog into a muted mutt”

Cost of living accounts for some (maybe much) of the shrinkage in support for Labour – but is co-governance a factor, too?

Latest  polling  has  underlined  how  support  for the  government has  eroded  almost  as  fast  as inflation has hit  New Zealand  households.

Both polls  have  National  ahead  of  Labour.  The  difference  is  that the Roy Morgan poll (for  the  fifth time  in a  row)  points to  a  change of  a government  while  the  Newshub-Reid  Research sampling   has  National  only two  points  ahead  of  Labour.

This means that  even with  ACT’s  support, the Nats are still  trailing  parties  of the  Left.

But what stands  out  starkly in  both polls is  how  far Labour’s  support  has  fallen since  it  swept  the  deck in the  last  election.

Equally,  the  polling  underlines  how  well Christopher  Luxon  has  done in  re-energising National  since  he  took  on the  leadership, despite  his  relative inexperience in Parliament and  the  critical exposure   he  gets in  the  state-subsidised  mainstream media.

Here are  the  details  of  the two  poll results  (as  reported  by that expert pollster David  Farrar): Continue reading “Cost of living accounts for some (maybe much) of the shrinkage in support for Labour – but is co-governance a factor, too?”

Mahuta and Robertson are flushed with enthusiasm as they pump revised Three Waters plans back into the political pipes

The Labour Government is again using a Friday while the Prime Minister is on leave to dump information, ACT Leader David Seymour claimed in a press statement today.   

He referenced an announcement on Friday last week setting out the  next steps on He Puapua, the government’s programme for extending the meaning of “Treaty partnership” and discriminating in favour of “indigenous” people as “special”.

Today, the government has released its decision on Three Waters.

Just one thing.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson certainly have announced the Government’s Three Waters plans.

But when Point of Order checked The Beehive website at 3.30pm – well, it still wasn’t there.

In his statement, David Seymour noted that Three Waters and He Puapua involve major constitutional reform.

“They are issues that deserve sunlight and proper debate,” he said.

“It’s frankly pathetic from Labour to try to quietly release these on Friday while Jacinda is unavailable for interviews.” Continue reading “Mahuta and Robertson are flushed with enthusiasm as they pump revised Three Waters plans back into the political pipes”

Buzz from the Beehive – nothing yet posted about Three Waters but you can be sure Nanaia will sting her critics any minute

The Point of Order team was awash with expectations that something big would be showing up on the Beehive website.

But no – not yet.  Just two fresh announcements had been posted at the time we checked, neither of them related to Three Waters.

The big news about Three Waters and the Government’s intentions was embargoed to 11am and we checked around 11.10am.

We will keep you posted.  Our money is on co-governance remaining a controversial feature of reforms to be translated into legislation thanks to the Government’s Parliamentary majority.

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