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Letters To The Editor: Don Brash & Waitangi Marae

Scoop Letters To The Editor: Don Brash and Waitangi Marae


Dual Sovereignty

In the last 24 hours I have been hearing opinions from a range of Maori spokespersons, all considered mainstream or moderates, making a range of threats and statements to the effect that that if Dr Don Brash implements his policies outlined in his Orewa speech, there will be political and civil unrest in this country.

Dr Bruce Gregory essentially threatens Dr Brash not to talk politics at the Waitangi marae on our national day, due to the likelihood of "inflamed tensions" becoming "physical".

The Chairman of Muriwhenua, not exactly a "Ken Mair" figure, essentially insists that Maori will never let go their ambitions to establish a "dual sovereignty", with separate Maori and Pakeha "Upper Houses" governing New Zealand.

What absolutely astonsishes me is that no-one, but no-one in our PC-obsessed national media asks the simplest of questions of these people. Why for example is it acceptable for a Maori to threaten civil disobedience and violence, but the same actions from any other New Zealander would likely be labelled "terrorism".

Why is it that a Maori spokesperson imply that the Leader of the Opposition (a role of some stature in our democracy) should keep silent lest he be manhandled? Surely a white skinned person making such a statememnt would be inviting immediate police attention?

And what precisely do Maori tribal leaders mean by "dual sovereignty" and how do they envisage such a thing operating in practice? And if so, what cultural basis or precedent can they offer to show that such an arrangement might work? A moments' contemplation throws up inumerable questions about the details of this proposal; and in such details lie all the devils. Just one "for instance":

Assume now we have two "Upper Houses". Who determines how the members are chosen? Presumably Maori cultural practice is that those with the "whakapapa", the "upper class browns" would self select from among their number. Why would any of the rest of NZ accept the legitimacy of a House so constituted?

Or would they conduct elections, and who would be eligible to vote for it? For example, I have no Maori cultural identification, yet due to the fact that my grandfather served and died in the Maori Battalion in WWII, on racial grounds I qualify as well as any other of my browner skinned cousins as Maori. Am I then to be compelled to vote in a "Maori plebiscite" in which I have no desire to participate, or do I get to choose which sovereignty I vote for, and can I swap sides at my whim? The same dilemma of mixed racial and cultural identity would afflict huge numbers of New Zealanders. We may not have been "one people" in 1840, but we are rapidily becoming one now.

At the outset we would be told that the two Houses would operate in the "interests of all New Zealanders", but of course there is no point to a seperate Maori legislative House, unless it did promote Maori interests ahead others. With time the distinctions between the two cultural groups would accumulate, and it begs of course the question, where do you draw the line?

Ulitmately one might postulate two sets of laws, two set of taxes, seperate sets of government institutions for each race, a "pakeha police" and an "iwi police". Separate court and prison systems, hospitals, schools (oopps we have them already). What if the Maori and Pakeha governments enacted different traffic laws? One legal regime applying to those those identified as "Pakeha" and the another for those culturally identifying with a tribal iwi, is of course an economic and social absurdity, but if a "dual sovereignty" is the goal of Maori tribal leaders, how else do they think to give effect to it? If Maori leaders have a more sophisticated vision for the future of New Zealand than this, then surely they would not mind explaining it to us. Iif they think it is such a good plan... why are they not pressing it forward for public scrutiny?

Just a few months ago almost everyone imagined the Crown held undisputed authority over the foreshore and oceans. Now we are told this is not so, and that Maori tribes owned it all along.

Recently the Wellington based "Tenths Trust" proudly displayed a map which in a pink colour embraced almost all of the Wellington region as land the tribe still regarded as "theirs". Of course the spokeperson was quick to assure us that the land they are currently seeking restoration of, is only some much smaller blue coloured patches of now very valuable public real estate; but how long then before Maori become bold enough to assert ownership to all their pre-1840 tribal territories as per their "indigneous rights", regardless of whether it is now in Crown or private title? So far non-Maori have been allowed to draw the assumption that privately held title will not be ever claimed, but so we thought of the foreshore and seabed...until just a few months ago.

Philip Wilkie - NZ


At last we have a Opposition Leader who can raise an issue and keep it alive in the media, who can win over New Zealanders with rational and articulate argument and who is sufficiently able to think on his feet to hold his own against Kim Hill.

Don Brash has my vote.

Yours faithfully

Michael Williams – Auckland, NZ


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