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When National Bill Gets It Wrong

Howard's End

When National Bill Gets It Wrong

By Maree Howard

The National Party revealed over the weekend that it had uncovered a string of official Government papers that refer to the Treaty of Waitangi's "phantom Fourth Article" about Maori religious rights and freedoms. It also revealed that Government departments were spending $6,000 a day on courses to learn about the Treaty. But we don't have to go any further than the freely available Draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to learn these aspirations are universal among indigenous peoples. Maree Howard writes.

Opposition Leader, Bill English, really seems to have thought he was on to something when he issued not one, but two, press releases alleging taxpayers money is being used to teach civil servants about Maori separatism and the phantom Fourth Article of the Treaty of Waitangi referring to the 1840 spoken assurance about Maori religious rights and freedoms.

He says the Government has acknowledged that the Fourth Article of the Treaty does not exist and asks the question: "If that's the case, why have we found references to it in a series of public documents."

"These documents show that New Zealanders have every right to feel uneasy about Labour's secretive constitutional agenda." he said.

C'mon Bill, get real.

What part of Article Four of the 45 Articles in the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples doesn't Bill and his Party understand:

" Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, economic, social, and cultural characteristics, as well as their legal systems, while retaining their rights to participate fully if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State."

It's been around a while Bill. Those indigenous rights are also in Agenda 21 documents, the ILO Convention 169 and the UN Convention of Biological Diversity. And wasn't it the National Government who was in office at that time?

Our Bill is in for the main chance and seems to be trying to agitate the public mind and inflame public passions without cause of justification - maybe he is trying to gain a bit of desperately needed political mileage - who knows?

The full 45 Articles text of the Draft Declaration is available at

Not to be outdone by his Leader, National MP Murray McCully then waded into the argument with the headline grabbing statement that it was political correctness gone mad when departments such as Industry New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand wasted money on Treaty training which had no use in their business."

Bu the Dominion Post newspaper then revealed that an organisation run by a prominent National Party candidate Hekia Parata and her husband Wira Gardiner, a former high-ranking party official, are among those racking in the cash from Government departments.

The $10,000 and $12,000 cost of attending its two-day courses includes venue hire, koha, travel and the facilitator's fee, the Dominion Post reported.

What strikes me as truly amazing is that supposedly wise Chief Executives of the Government department's concerned would, seemingly without question, authorise that kind of daily spending of taxpayer funds when the unique universal rights of indigenous peoples are already freely available on the Internet. It seems to me that if we compare those rights with the media reported Maori aspirations they run parallel and in synch.

In fact, there are more rights for indigenous peoples in the Draft Declaration than there are for Maori in the Treaty of Waitangi. Phantom Fourth Article rights in the Treaty of Waitangi or not - they are in the UN Draft Declaration.

Just a thought! You don't suppose that some people might be uplifting the rights out of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and using them as Treaty rights simply in order to create an expensive "course" gravy train for themselves - do you?

Now that would be a story!

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