Waitangi Day and the quiet revolution
Whilst new Prime Minister Hipkins is keen to rebrand co-governance, Dame Claudia Orange has instead described the changes to the Treaty as 'revolutionary' in ways that the public are not yet aware.
Despite five years of a Labour government which has unashamedly placed Māori issues at the forefront of its agenda, this year’s Waitangi Day celebrations felt typically anti-climactic. Admittedly the sudden departure of Jacinda Ardern and the demotion of some members of the Māori caucus in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle may have dampened the enthusiasm of some of the main participants.
Indeed, newly demoted Minister, Nanaia Mahuta cancelled a reception and speech that she had planned to give to invited foreign guests at Waitangi, opting instead to fly to India to repair a relationship described last year as “not in good health”.
Into the leadership void stepped the freshly minted Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins. But rather than leading a day of national celebration and reflection, he merely oversaw another piece of political theatre. And rather than Waitangi Day being an exemplar of co-governance, showcasing it’s potential to the nation, the day simply served as another reminder that it’s a deeply flawed model that struggles to operate in even the most favorable of conditions.
The weekend’s celebrations began with a rocky start for the new Prime Minister when he attended the Iwi Leaders’ Forum on Friday morning during which he suggested that co-governance had been “misunderstood” by the public.
Saturday seemed to be occupied by a back-and-forth between Waitangi Day organisers and the government regarding whether the Prime Minister would speak or not, and if so, whether it would be in te reo or English. This type of stochastic behaviour only served to highlight to the public that the government’s much trumpeted partnership with Māori is totally unpredictable and dysfunctional.
Yet somehow we are to believe that co-governance of our country’s water assets and infrastructure will deliver the best possible outcomes for all New Zealanders?
The NZ Herald senior political correspondent Audrey Young stated last week that Hipkins faced a tough job explaining to the public the government’s plans for co-governance.
Commenting that this challenge was made all the more difficult by the fact that former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not do a good enough job of bringing the public along and outlining why this approach was necessary.
“I think it’s perhaps one of her biggest failures,” said Young.
But all the blame can’t be placed at the feet of the former Prime Minister. What of the other senior members of the current government? Why didn’t Davis, Mahuta, Jackson, Henare or any of the other members of Cabinet step-up and explain what co-governance means and how it will benefit New Zealand?
The answer is simple - they have deliberately avoided the discussion. The government has never had a political mandate for co-governance and the concept is nowhere to be found in the text of the Treaty.
Indeed Cabinet does not even unanimously support it. The most notable objector being the Attorney-General, David Parker, who has pushed back on co-governance in the proposed resource management and local government reforms.
Nevertheless Hipkins seems to think that by rebranding co-governance as mahi tahi or ‘working together’ the public will be placated. Clearly that is the wishful thinking of a politician in a rush who is about to face an election in nine months’ time.
The regrettable fact is that this government has embarked on a surreptitious and radical policy of co-governance that has planted the seeds for division and unrest in the years ahead. That position was underlined in an article by Audrey Young in yesterday’s NZ Herald concerning the new book on the Treaty by historian, Dame Claudia Orange.
Orange commented that changes to the Treaty are happening in both an evolutionary and revolutionary way.
“I think the general public is not aware that we are going through huge revolutionary changes in the country and in fact, we have taken that such a long way, there is no going back.”
“It’s just a question now of how the public service works to implement the policies that come through from Government.”
That is quite an admission to make but it does vindicate those who have raised concerns about the radical nature of co-governance.
The general public may however be surprised to learn over the coming months that this government has embarked on “revolutionary” changes to their country’s constitutional framework with little discussion on the matter. This radical concept is, of course, deeply embedded in the Three Waters reforms.
Christopher Luxon took some flak on the weekend for describing New Zealand in 1840 as “a little experiment”. Truth be told, our current government has undertaken a far larger and riskier constitutional experiment than anyone could possibly have imagined five years ago.
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What we are witnessing in real time is nothing short of outright treasonous.
Luxon is simply a useful, hapless bystander for the racist Labour Maori caucus and their active supporters in the judiciary, civil service and academia.
National actively supports both co - governance and co - management of our rivers, lakes, Natural Parks and DoC land while having us believing they will oppose the same in our civil service.
Totally incredulous to the voters - in my opinion.
At least Parker refuses to support co - governance with the RMA - where does Luxon stand ?
Hopefully, there will be an eruption within the wider Labour caucus to stop and reverse this traitorous policy.
Thanks to you and others the sleepy Kiwis are slowly waking up to this ruinous campaign to make us the Zimbabwe of the South Pacific.
The point is, how the public might react when they are shut out of services they have long taken for granted, or where there is favouritism for one group - or more likely (Rangatira) class. The point about revolution is that it might just easily have a counter-revolution come back the other way, and the pendulum might just swing to far the other way just as 'revolution/evolution has swung too far already.