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Peters Speech: Race Relations -- What Has Changed?

18 April 2002

State of the Nation Speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First, to the Rotary Club of Taradale, Taradale Town Hall, Lee Road, Taradale.


Race Relations-- So What Has Changed?


14 years ago I spoke to you on the subject: “Race Relations—the Last Chance for Change”. Reviewing that speech over the last few days has been an alarming experience. How true some of the predictions made back then have become.

Jim Bolger later said that the was the first speech that effectively ended my membership of the National Party.

The Labour party branded the speech ‘racist’. One paper at the time called it the most controversial speech of the year.

Today the problems that were outlined in that speech are not only still with us, but are in fact far worse.

Back in February 1988, Maori were grossly over represented in the prison population, grossly over represented in crime, in teenage suicide, in our hospitals, grossly over represented in poverty, and vastly over represented in unemployment and teenage pregnancy.

So what has changed? Where has all the money, effort, legislation and talk taken this country’s race relations over the last 14 years?

Notwithstanding all the money, all the legislation, all the huis and all the talk Maori are now a third world people living in a first world country.

And despite all those woeful statistics we still have politicians in this country who continue to push the same failed policies. They argue it will work, as long as more money is poured into it.

But we are not solving and will not solve the problems facing Maori in this country with these policies. All that has been accomplished is the emergence of a grievance industry, perpetuated by a number of elitist Maori, at enormous expense to the ordinary Maori, in whose name they make their claims.

This Maori elite has been joined by white cultural fellow travelers ten times the Maori elite’s number.

For if your policy is to rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul.

Race relations in this country have deteriorated since that speech here in 1988. Tonight I want to talk about how the policies of successive governments over that time have been destructive and corrosive for race relations.

In the last few years we have seen the politics of separatism dominate politics in New Zealand. And the politics of separatism has become an industry, and this industry is now huge—in numbers and money. For example, since the new government of 1999, the Ministry of Maori Affairs alone has spent over $5,235,000.00 on consultants, public relations and external advice.

They have let out 273 different contracts. That is a contract about every two days.

The contracts average $19, 177.00 each.

The department spends $8798.00 a day on consultants, $1099 an hour and $246,370.00 a month.

The biggest contract, for $282,231.00, was awarded to Quotable New Zealand for valuation reports for properties, despite the fact that this information was already held by Valuation New Zealand, and on the public record!

This is surely a far cry from the Promised Land of fiscal prudence that Helen Clark spoke of before the election.

This is not even the core of the Maori Affairs budget—this is the contracting-out that their 570 staff can’t apparently handle.

As well as that since 1992 there has been over $758,000,000.00 spent on Waitangi claims. In real terms that figure is $1.58 billion in today’s money.

Over $1.5 billion paid out—that does not include the cost of hearing the claims, researching them and ruling on them. That is $5,300.00 for every man woman and child of Maori decent, and that does not include the dividends from the Sealord deal.

This week, we asked the Waitangi Tribunal how much was paid out between 1975, when the tribunal was set up and 1992. Their answer was alarming—they didn’t know! Incredibly they couldn’t tell us either how many claims had been settled or heard and they couldn’t tell us how much that had cost.

If MacDonald’s know how many hamburgers they have sold, surely this tribunal should know how many cases they have heard.

What is more—we have been through the budgets of all the government agencies and have looked at what is paid to so-called Maori groups. We have looked at the number of Maori on benefits and the amounts paid out.

We have looked at the amounts dedicated to Maori health—as if Maori have different germs to non-Maori. We looked at every special project dedicated to Maori that literally every Government department is required to have.

We calculate that Maori received last year $8.2 billion in funding from the Government. That is $23,000 spent per Maori, each and every year. That is more than the salary of most New Zealanders. And one has to ask just what are these policies doing for Maori, let alone the rest of the country.

In short, if the problem were simply a matter of money then we should have solved it long ago.

The fact is, that in the main, Maori do not get much of that money.

Most Maori living in the provinces, in the suburbs and in the poor areas of our cities do not see a cent. All that has been accomplished is the creation of a spectacularly rich cabal of Maori elite.

There is a perception that this Maori grievance industry is a minor element—it is not. The Maori grievance industry, and the Treaty of Waitangi is now the biggest single cash cow in the Wellington Public Relations industry.

There are some people in Wellington who have become very rich from the Treaty of Waitangi and the “Maori-issue consultancy industry”. There is at least one MP who makes a very good living from going around businesses teaching them how to be ‘culturally sensitive to Maori’.

The average income of Maori is approximately $14,000 per year. Yet, the lowest paid member of the Waitangi Fisheries Tribunal costs 14 times that, just for attending a meeting a week. This elite is certainly closing the gaps-- between themselves and the business round table, but there is no closing of the gaps between the average Maori and the rest of the country.

There is a subtle and sinister form of psychological coercion at work here. Once it was claimed that this was all in the name of being sensitive to people’s needs. Today the claim of those living as consultants has changed to a threat if we don’t go along with their schemes and their ideas the rest of us are automatically racist.

There is a familiar pattern to this behaviour. The way these people do their work is always the same, here or abroad: first indict contemporary white New Zealand for some historic injustice of which it is not guilty; secondly demand money, and lots of it. The third step is to claim even more money when it runs out.

These are the people who believe that getting their nose pierced is a political statement.

The umbrella under which these policies have been developed is of course the Treaty of Waitangi. This document has been held up in recent years as the saviour of our country, or rather those who portray it in this fashion do not so much hold up the Treaty, as invoke it, as if it has magical powers.

This year I have asked over 40 questions of the Prime Minister and various ministers. Every question has asked: “What does the Government understand to be the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi?”.

Here is the Prime Minister’s answer: “Interpretation of the Treaty’s principles has preoccupied the courts, the legal profession, Maoridom, and the Government for many years. This process is, clearly an ongoing matter.”

The Minister of Immigration, answering for the Prime Minister, the question: “Will the government be publishing the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi?”, answered: “No” .

And yet, “currently over 30 pieces of legislation refer to the Treaty of Waitangi or its principles. In terms of secondary legislation there are many more”—Margaret Wilson’s answer to Parliament on the 20th February this year.

So here we have successive governments gaily referring to the Treaty of Waitangi ad nauseum yet not one of these ministers can tell you what these principles are.

This has become “the king has no clothes” fable of 21st century New Zealand, and yet all manner of bureaucrats at the central and local government level at every department claim to be observing the principles of the Treaty, the nature, description, character, and shape of which no-one knows. This would be comical were it not costing billions of dollars every year, whilst the Maori people are condemned to their inexorable retreat into the third world.

And so the real question tonight we should be asking ourselves is:
Who are the real racists here?

Are they, those like me, who want government policy to be colour blind, or are the real racists those who want to see this country split along racial lines—with everything done in twos—one for Maori and the other for ‘tauiwi’, that is ‘strangers’, ‘outsiders’, ‘visitors’ or ‘aliens’, that is: everyone else?

Are the racists those who sit back and see the con-job being perpetuated on this country’s government by Maori radicals and white fellow travelers, and those like the head of one of our commissions who yesterday threatened violence and said that “political dissent would spill onto the streets if a truly significant issue was continually blocked or not dealt with in a reasonable manner.” ?

Are the real racists not those who treat New Zealanders with a British background on one level, but make special allowances to Maori, based simply on some Maori ancestry, even if it is diluted to 1 part in 512?

There exists today in New Zealand a very subtle but yet very devastating schism. It is a divide of racial double standards.

It is the derision that says that Maori are so unintelligent and so lacking in ability that special allowances must be made on their behalf.

It is the racism perpetuated by the self appointed intelligentsia in this country, the preening white liberals in the Wellington bureaucracy and the brown-table industry practitioners who want one standard for Maori and another for everyone else.

For these people there is no question for which racial separatism is not the answer. If the Transport department found that more Maori were involved in car crashes they would insist that a system of Maori-only superhighways be built from Bluff to Cape Reianga.

It is the type of thinking that says that Maori artists are so hapless that they need the taxpayer to spend $1.6million on a special logo for them.

It is the excusatory attitude that says that Maori commit crimes because they feel alienated from the Treaty of Waitangi—the view recently of a female Auckland academic.

It is this kind of racism that develops a false sense of inferiority in Maori and a growing sense of resentment in Europeans, and these policies of racial separatism that are tearing this country apart and ruining race relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not believe that Maori are a basket case, for I have faith in the abilities of our Maori people. There is now a huge population of Maori in Australia—they have gone there seeking the good life. Today the average Maori in Australia earns more than the average white person in New Zealand. Many have been spectacularly successful. Curiously, the Treaty of Waitangi does not stretch across the Tasman.

If you believe that Maori are a hopeless race of people then watch the Super 12, the Warriors, our netball team, our golfers and our squash players—not one of them needed the Treaty of Waitangi to get there.

It was announced in the NZ Herald today that the highest rating station in New Zealand is now Mai FM, the Auckland Maori owned station, which was not set up under the Treaty of Waitangi, never got a Maori spectrum licence and is no part of any Treaty of Waitangi settlement—they got there the old fashion way-- sheer hard work.

The biggest tragedy for New Zealand as we go into the 21st century is a social one—a country divided heading down different paths, sign-posted by ancestry and difference rather than shared mutual interests as one people.

The truth should be vastly different. Most Maori, in fact the vast majority, want no part in this separatist racket. They are more interested in living their lives and just getting on with it as New Zealanders.

There is a café in Wellington, which shall remain nameless, which does not serve black coffee. It does not serve white coffee either. It does however serve coffee with milk, and coffee without milk. The logic being that if a Maori was asked if he wanted a black coffee that he would be racially offended.

The country does not need the Treaty of Waitangi, with its principles incapable of expression or commitment to writing being slavishly adhered to as some kind of constitutional framework for future development.

One fact cannot be denied. The Maori population is growing at a far faster rate than the European population. Within half a century, up to one third of the country will be Maori in some way.

It was once said that a house divided cannot stand, but a country that deliberately undermines through divisive policies the development of a third of its population is doomed.

Race relations matter to New Zealanders, for we want a country devoid of racial separatism, where policies are based on need and not colour. The vast majority of New Zealanders find racism abhorrent, and for that very reason they feel aggrieved at the assumption portrayed in the media, and peddled by some academics that all Europeans are racist. They are deeply resentful of the sermonising by the arrogant elites in this country over race relations.

There was time not so long along, when a visitor from overseas turning on the Television would have thought that Ken Mair was the Prime Minister—the media hung on his every word and played his rantings ad nausea on their broadcasts. Radicals such as Tame Iti or Annette Sykes or Tariana Turia know that the media will report their rhetoric, no matter how barmy.

The first time I was here in 1988, and indeed every year I have been back, I have stressed the importance of education. For education has more power to liberate Maori from poverty than all the consultants, all the Treaty negotiators and all the special-interest lobbyists in Wellington combined.

By education, I mean sound educational training, with parental commitment, not the touchy-feely politically correct version of education that passes for curriculum today.

So again, 14 years on, what needs to be done?

We need to pursue policies that promote social cohesion, rather than racial coercion.

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