Govt cheerleaders whoop the good news (at last) of resource management reform – but keep an eye on the Treaty’s role

Buzz from the Beehive

It was rather like listening to ministers crowing about the goodies being distributed to programmes within their portfolios before, on and after Budget Day.

It was the joyous response from a gaggle of cheerleading ministers to the unveiling of legislation to replace the wretched Resource Management Act.

Environment Minister David Parker made the key announcement and summed up its features under these bullet points:

  • The system is broken, consent fees have almost doubled, and consenting time frames increased by 50%
  • New standardised conditions will see fewer “bespoke” consents and speed up the process
  • Time to consent will shorten, and fast track process retained
  • On a conservative estimate costs will fall 19% a year ($149m) or $10b over 30 years
  • Environmental protection increases, based on new targets and limits.
  • The National Planning Framework will provide consistency and certainty
  • 100 RMA plans will reduce to 15

Continue reading “Govt cheerleaders whoop the good news (at last) of resource management reform – but keep an eye on the Treaty’s role”

Review of local government reform proposals missed out the bit which favours citizenship entitlements based on race

Tim Murphy, co-editor of Newsroom, went out to bat for the Public Interest Journalism Fund in an email to his readers at the weekend.

He acknowledged that the fund, set up by the Ardern Government to support media companies and expand important news coverage through the pandemic and economic recovery, has its critics.

But he said it has been

“… a target of much lame criticism.”

He went on to explain that the $50m over three years isn’t all extra money (this shrinks the $55m sum involved in  other reports) and said:

“It takes over many millions in existing state funding for a range of news and journalism projects funded for years by NZ on Air.”

More emphatically he insisted:

It isn’t, as some critics claim, aimed at journalism that pushes Treaty of Waitangi principles or leftie woke agendas.

Continue reading “Review of local government reform proposals missed out the bit which favours citizenship entitlements based on race”

Review team which favours privileges for mana whenua is doing what local govt wants, says Mahuta (who lauds democracy)

Buzz from the Beehive

Hurrah.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta did get around to recognising the draft report on the future of local government from a review team whose membership and mission she announced in April last year.  

The team’s proposals include the creation of a Kiwi version of Animal Farm in which all citizens are equal, but some (depending on genealogy) are more equal than others.

Point of Order had been keen to learn what Mahuta thought of the draft report, but Opposition reactions reached us first.

ACT’s press statement  from local government spokesman Simon Court said the Government’s review team proposes ‘differentiated liberal citizenships’, where people get different rights based on their cultural and ethnic background.

“Is this what Willie Jackson meant when he said, ‘democracy has changed’?

“The suggestion that people should get different rights because of who their grandparents are is anti-democratic. Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta needs to front up and tell ratepayers if she believes in this concept and if so, how is it consistent with the Bill of Rights?”

Then we received a statement from National’s Paul Goldsmith and Simon Watts headlined National rejects anti-democratic council proposals. This makes their position plain.

Mahuta’s statement on the Beehive website makes no mention of this highly contentious  element of the review team’s recommendations.

It is one of five recent posts on the website which tell us she and her ministerial colleagues have been …. Continue reading “Review team which favours privileges for mana whenua is doing what local govt wants, says Mahuta (who lauds democracy)”

Putin should have seen it coming – our Govt announces further trade bans and sanctions to squeeze the Russian economy

Buzz from the Beehive

A further slew of trade bans and sanctions has been announced by the Government to put further pressure on the Putin regime and the Russian economy as part of the Government’s ongoing response to the war and illegal annexations.

Here’s hoping we have not run out of things to sanction.  And especially we hope we can respond appropriately to punish Putin if – or should we say when? – he carries out his threat to use nuclear weapons.  

The latest measures are

  • New sanctions and trade bans on Russia and Belarus in response to Putin’s attempts to illegally annex parts of Ukraine
  • Sanctions target 51 oligarchs including New Zealand-linked Alexander Abramov and 24 Russian-backed office holders in annexed areas of Ukraine
  • New bans on exports and imports of luxury goods like NZ wine and seafood and Russian vodka and caviar, as well as strategically important products like oil, gas and related production equipment
  • Extension of 35% tariff on Russian imports till March 2025
  • New Zealand condemns Russia’s overnight missile strikes on civilians

This punitive action has been announced on the Beehive website along with news that our ministers are… Continue reading “Putin should have seen it coming – our Govt announces further trade bans and sanctions to squeeze the Russian economy”

Thomas Cranmer:  Three Waters and the vexed question of ownership


At the heart of the Three Waters debate is a question that has been contentious since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – what does ownership really mean and is it the same as rangatiratanga?

This article is the fifth in a series by Thomas Cranmer, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes: 

My old Māori Studies lecturer, Dr Ranginui Walker described it as the “abyss of meaning” when considering the English and Māori versions of the, Treaty of Waitangi – newly constructed words that were attempting to encapsulate old, and in some cases, nebulous, concepts. At the heart of the Treaty debate is rangatiratanga, a word which Walker describes in his book ‘Struggle without End’ as:

“… a missionary neologism derived from rangatira (chief), which, with the addition of the suffix tanga, becomes chieftainship. Now the guarantee of chieftainship is in effect a guarantee of sovereignty, because an inseparable component of chieftainship is mana whenua. Without land a chief’s mana and that of his people is negated.” Continue reading Thomas Cranmer:  Three Waters and the vexed question of ownership

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Water Services Entities

WE ARE TOLD the water services entities will be independent bodies run by professional boards – but how independent will these entities really be and who will sit on their boards?

This article is the fourth in a series by Thomas Cranmer, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation.  He writes: 

Whilst co-governance has been an undeniable source of contention during the Three Waters reforms, the Government has repeatedly reminded the public that this is only a feature of the Regional Representative Groups and will not be a feature at the operational level of the structure. When the Water Services Entities Bill was introduced to the House, Minister Mahuta reiterated this point in an interview with RNZ:

“In fact, co-management arrangements are at the strategic level – that is not at the professional board level – who will have a focus group of directors to undertake that role.”

In her speech to the House Mahuta highlighted this fact by stating that:

“… the entity boards will be made up of people hired for their expertise and skill in water services delivery.”

Sounds simple enough – but is this really the case?

As we know, the Regional Representative Groups are made up of a 50:50 split between council representatives and those appointed by mana whenua.

The RRGs are required to set up a Board Appointment Committee who collectively have expertise in relation to performance monitoring and governance; network infrastructure industries; the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi; and perspectives of mana whenua, mātauranga, tikanga and te ao Māori.

It will be that Board Appointment Committee which will prepare an appointment policy that sets out the collective or individual experience, qualifications, skills, or expertise required of members of the water services entity’s board.

In fact Eugenie Sage was more revealing in her speech to the House than Minister Mahuta when considering the boards of the water entities:

“The regional representative groups will appoint the committee which appoints the board of the water services entity. Those boards are to be competency based. Those competencies include mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori, and an understanding of Te Ao Māori.”

The risk, of course, is that this process will select only those individuals that hold the same radical views on the Treaty and related matters as the current Government and that cultural correctness will overshadow technical expertise.

Ironically, although the Bill states that in making an appointment, the board appointment committee must take into account the desirability of promoting diversity in the membership of the board, one gets the feeling that there will not be diversity of thought.

And in the case of any technical experts that are appointed to the board, the Bill also provides that it maintains systems and processes for the continuing education of all board members to gain knowledge of, and experience and expertise in relation to, the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi. In other words, everyone is going to get with the programme.

Once appointed, things don’t get any better. The Bill is exceptionally clear in requiring that anyone exercising duties, functions or powers under it (including the water entity boards), must give effect to the Treaty and to Te Mana o te Wai – the only matter that this principle is subject to is that Treaty settlement obligations must prevail over everything.

This is the foundational non-negotiable principle of the Bill – not the improvement of water delivery services which features lower down the pecking order.

Each water service entity will have a constitution – currently being prepared by the Government – which could also include additional qualifications or requirements for the directors as well as placing other requirements on the board.

Thus whilst each board of a water entity will be accountable to the relevant Regional Representative Group, they will also be required to engage with, and understand the perspectives of mana whenua which includes giving effect to the Te Mana o te Wai statements issued from time to time.

In addition, each of the water service entities will be incurring substantial amounts of debt in the international financial markets and will therefore also need to comply with the terms and requirements of that debt and manage a large syndicate of international creditors.

The Government, too, has an opportunity to periodically issue a policy statement which can set out its priorities for water services, its expectations in relation to Māori interests, partnering with mana whenua and giving effect to Te Mana o te Wai, and how it expects water services entities to take into account the well-being of communities.

Overseeing compliance, as the service regulator, will be Taumata Arowai – and specifically the sister of Minister Mahuta, in her role as Chair of the Maori Advisory Group.

There is currently consideration being given as to how economic and consumer regulation of the entities will be structured.

Lastly, and somewhat forgotten in this legislation, are the consumers and ratepayers upon whom all of the risk of this structure falls and who will have their own set of expectations by which they will measure the boards. There will, rightly, be intense public scrutiny of the performance of the water entities boards.

All of this gives one the impression that the boards will be pulled in many different directions at once. It would appear that their skills will need to include multi-tasking, people-pleasing and pulling rabbits out of hats.

For the headhunters it will be a tough (but presumably profitable) gig to fill the board seats although I’m sure Minister Mahuta will have a few suggestions.

To anyone considering taking a seat on one of these boards my advice is to remember Homer:

If you serve too many masters, you’ll soon suffer

Oliver Hartwich: State funding of the news media and an Orwellian distortion of journalism

David Farrar alerted us in a Kiwiblog post to an article about the state funding of the mainstream news media published in The Australian

The article, written by  NZ Initiative executive director  Oliver Hartwich, highlights the issue that should dismay the public about this funding:  the $55 million is conditional on media organisation’s agreeing with the Government’s contentious view on the Treaty of Waitangi.

Farrar comments:  

This is repugnant. Polling by Curia has shown a massive 59% think the PIJF undermines the independence of the media. Only 24% of Kiwis support retaining the PIJF.

I hope the next Government will scrap it entirely. However there may be a case for funding reporting on court cases and local councils. But this would need to be done with no conditions around the Treaty and through some sort of neutral body not appointed by the Government of the day.


An Orwellian distortion of journalism

According to a quote sometimes attributed to George Orwell, “journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.”

Whether Orwell actually said it or not, it is a useful definition.

There are whole armies of PR and comms people trying to make you swallow their predetermined messages. Continue reading “Oliver Hartwich: State funding of the news media and an Orwellian distortion of journalism”

“Voodoo economics” is among Seymour’s objections to public holiday – Waititi’s grouches are rooted in a sovereignty challenge

Have all members of Parliament taken the day off, on this  Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day?

We ask because there were some objections to the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day Bill, when all stages were passed under urgency into law last Tuesday.

The legislation created a one-off public holiday to mark the end of the 70-year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The holiday is taking place today, the day of New Zealand’s State memorial service for the Queen.

When a party vote was called for on the question that urgency be accorded the Bill, Labour (64 votes); National (33); the Green Party (10) and Gaurav Sharma voted in favour.

ACT (10) and Te Paati Māori (2) voted against. Continue reading ““Voodoo economics” is among Seymour’s objections to public holiday – Waititi’s grouches are rooted in a sovereignty challenge”

The PM is an unambiguous champion of all Kiwis having votes of equal weight? Not if the Treaty is tossed in to perplex her

The Prime Minister failed to unambiguously champion the democratic ideal that all citizens should have equal rights as citizens, when she was questioned on Q + A a few weeks ago.

She flunked the test again in Parliament this week.

On Tuesday, ACT leader David Seymour asked:

Does she stand by Minister Willie Jackson’s statement that “‘one person one vote’ is but one value within … [democracy], not the only value.”, and, if so, what does she say to Victoria University professor of political science Jack Vowles, who wrote in reply to Minister Jackson that “everyone having a vote or votes of equal weight to elect those who represent them is not just one value [of democracy], it is a foundational principle. As such, it is recognised in the Bill of Rights”?

Here was an opportunity to assure the public she believes in a liberal democracy of the sort with which Kiwis are familiar.  One person, one vote – that sort of thing.

Jacinda Ardern simply had to acknowledge she agreed with Jack Vowles. Continue reading “The PM is an unambiguous champion of all Kiwis having votes of equal weight? Not if the Treaty is tossed in to perplex her”

Professor Elizabeth Rata – In defence of democracy

PROFESSOR ELIZABETH RATA gave this address – ‘In Defence of Democracy’ – to the New Zealand ACT Party Annual Conference, in Wellington and Auckland, last month. Although the address was given at a political party event, she says she was a guest speaker and the ideas she presents are her own.

Professor Rata is a sociologist of education in the School of Critical Studies, Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland where she is Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU).  Her main research areas are in knowledge in the curriculum, knowledge politics, ethnic revivalism, Māori education, research methods, and the history of New Zealand education.


Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

My talk ‘In Defence of Democracy’ is for those of all political persuasions who are deeply worried about New Zealand’s descent from democracy into a tribal form of ethno-nationalism.

I want to talk about democracy – about what it is we are in danger of losing and what we need to do to retain our nation’s remarkable 170 year legacy of democratic governance.

Nearly forty years ago the 1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act set in motion a radical constitutional agenda. The aim –  to shift the country from democracy to tribalism. In that time a corporate tribal elite has privatised public resources, acquired political power, and attained governance entitlements. Activist judges have created treatyism – a new interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi as a ‘governance partnership’. Intellectuals have supplied the supporting racialised ‘two world views’ ideology. Continue reading “Professor Elizabeth Rata – In defence of democracy”