Treaty Lunacy And Treaty People
28 May 2002
Speech delivered by Rt Hon Winston Peters to Clevedon Electorate Public Meeting, Beachlands Community Hall, 49 Wakelin Road, Beachlands, Auckland.
Time of delivery: 1pm, Tuesday 29th May 2002.
Treaty Lunacy And Treaty People
Over the last few weeks one issue above all others has dominated the news media. While there has been murder and mayhem on our streets - sometimes two murders a day, and sick people have had to travel to Australia for treatment, another issue has stolen the media space.
Helen Clark’s artistry.
It is sad but true that while we are confronted with serious issues in our daily lives the focus gets to be on the trivial.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are not here to talk about trivia. For the future of our country one issue stands out.
That issue outweighs the economy.
It is more critical than the state of our health, education or transport systems
It surpasses in importance all the concerns we hold about the environment
And it certainly more important than fake art.
That issue is - of course - race relations
Race relations - if mishandled -has the potential to destroy this country
Without a united society all our hopes, aspirations and dreams as a nation will count for nothing - because we will no longer be a nation.
Which is why in this speech today returns to this pivotal question
Why is Maoridom the twenty-first century’s version of the “White Mans’ Burden’?
New Zealand’s approach to race relations must not rely on wishful thinking, make-believe or denial
We must start by acknowledging the facts.
And the facts are that Maori are over represented in the statistics of social failure:
Do you remember the Governments short lived “Closing the Gaps’ fiasco of 2000?
Well - the gaps are still there
- Maori health status is considerably lower than that of non-Maori across a range of health indicators including life expectancy;
- Maori are concentrated in lower paid occupations
- The country is currently enjoying a low rate of unemployment of 5.3% but Maori unemployment is around thrice that
- Maori are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system
These are conditions that demand action. They must be faced up to and tackled
We cannot accept that any group of New Zealanders should face the prospect of enduring disadvantage - and lets not forget that one in seven New Zealanders is a Maori.
But the current approach - far from improving the position of Maori and the state of race relations is having the opposite effect.
Ask the inmates of Paremoremo, of Mt Eden and Mt Crawford: who is paying the price for this flawed approach? A flawed approach to race relations has not only patently failed to resolve the genuine problems facing Maori but has also sown discord, distrust and disharmony
The Maori who make up the numbers behind the claims being made in their name are being robbed blind and being the subject of odium and distaste because of a perception that they have their hand up for another hand-out. They suffer the consequences and watch the benefits go into the pockets of their agents,
What else can we conclude from the following contradiction:
One - over the past 15 years, a huge amount of this country’s resources in the form of money, time, and intellect has apparently been devoted to overcoming Maori disadvantage:
Two - Maori disadvantage persists.
How can this woeful result be explained?
The main cause and culprit for the abysmal failure of the present approach to race relations is the thinking, the culture and the fraternity that has grown up around the Treaty of Waitangi over the past 15 years
An entire multi-million dollar industry has proliferated like a noxious weed around the Treaty.
This industry consists of an unholy alliance of consultants, lawyers, PR manipulators and assorted fellow travelers in the bureaucracy and media - only some of whom are Maori.
This motley collection could be described as “Treaty People” and the millennium has seen them proliferate.
Like a noxious weed, a malignant cancer, this industry thrives on certain conditions that promote its growth.
If we are to stop this juggernaut we need to clearly understand the conditions that enable it to flourish - and those conditions will be the focus of my speech today.
The first condition that has allowed the Treaty People to mushroom is the stultifying self-censorship of public debate and discourse on the issue of race relations
When it comes to this issue there is a set of so-called acceptable views that are espoused by the political establishment and their media friends.
Disturbingly that cone of silence extends across the spectrum of NZ politics - from left to right.
Under this regime of tacit censorship, otherwise known as political correctness, certain views are air brushed and filtered out of the public arena.
There is a gentlemen’s agreement (if you will forgive the use of that very un PC expression!) that critical thinking is to be avoided when it comes to the Treaty
In particular questioning the current orthodoxy is regarded as a no-go zone for politicians
Let me give you an example of what happens if you dare to challenge the prevailing media orthodoxy
In April, following my Taradale State of the Nation address in which I covered race relations, the NZ Herald devoted an editorial to my speech
Did that editorial commend my actions in raising serious issues confronting this country’s race relations? .......No
Did that editorial support someone with the courage to break through the all pervading political correctness and risk controversy? No
Did that editorial even manage to uphold the principle of free speech and open debate? No
Incredibly the Herald editorial castigated me for having the audacity, the temerity, to doubt the current group think on race relations
The editorial commented:
“there are some things that responsible politicians will not do. One of them is to exploit latent racial antagonisms for cheap electoral gains.”
Clearly, NZ First differs from the editor of the Herald on what constitutes responsibility.
The real responsibility lies in not turning a blind eye to the outrageous pilfering of the public purse under the disguise of addressing Treaty grievances.
The Editorial’s lofty tone of offended dignity suggested that, in challenging the media establishment’s view of the Treaty, I had committed an unpardonable act of bad taste.
The implication of that editorial was that taking on the Treaty was taboo.
Certainly not something to be mentioned in polite society
My speech was far from inflammatory - in fact I defy any fair-minded person to read it and conclude that it was other than reasonable, considered and offering a positive new direction.
The consequence of this stifling of open debate and discussion, of which the Herald editorial was but a recent example, is that the Treaty Industry has been allowed to thrive unchecked and unscrutinised
Well I can you assure you NZ First will not be intimidated.
We will drag the issue of the Treaty kicking and screaming into the 2002 election however much the media or the other political parties want to keep it under wraps.
That much we owe to all New Zealanders - and most especially Maori - who in reality suffer most when resources intended to help Maori as a whole are diverted to the advantage of that select fraternity we refer to as the Treaty Industry
The second condition that allows the Treaty industry to flourish is the obfuscation and vagueness that surrounds any discussion of the issues.
Since 1975 the Treaty Industry has spawned a torrent of words - in fact a Tsunami of verbiage
NZ has been deluged by a veritable Niagara Falls of words about the Treaty and what it does or does not mean - what I call “Treatyspeak.”
In Parliament, this year, I have made repeated attempts to penetrate the platitudes and the verbiage that envelope this issue.
I have repeatedly sought an explanation of what the principles of the Treaty actually mean.
No Government Minister has fronted up with a straightforward comprehensible answer.
Plain speaking is incompatible with the Treaty
That is the only conclusion you can draw from the evasion and circumlocution in Ministerial answers when I have sought to extract just a few words of simple English and common sense on what exactly the principles are that the courts and government agencies are busily implementing.
Interpreting the Treaty now resembles those interminable medieval theological arguments about how many angels could squat on a pinhead
And about as useful.
And, of course, like the medieval church the Treaty is surrounded by an army of well provided high priests whose job it is to divine the true meaning buried in its sacred principles.
These zealots would rather be pursuing some PC agenda than address things that actually matter to Maori - and why not?
- it is easier to manipulate make-believe than real problems
- it is certainly more lucrative and
- best of all no one can ever be held accountable for anything.
The rhetoric now surrounding the Treaty Industry is Orwellian.
The consequence of the steady encroachment of Treaty principles into New Zealand law and public policy is that almost anything can be demanded, asserted or claimed
All sorts of assertions regarding the Treaty, however spurious, have to be taken at face value.
I challenge the Government - spell it out!
Tell New Zealand in simple English what the Treaty principles are.
Where do they start and finish?
What do they include - and exclude?
Where are the boundaries - the limits - the edges?
They will not tell us - because they know that the current approach to the Treaty which treats it, euphemistically as a “living document” is totally open ended.
Or, in other words, a perpetual geyser of public money.
The result of this absurd way of thinking has been inevitable
The Treaty has become like a hidden vapour seeping remorselessly into every aspect of New Zealand life
For example, Government departments and local bodies are busily developing strategies and plans to uphold and implement the Treaty of Waitangi.
Of course in the absence of knowing what that really means it all collapses back into bromides such as “building partnerships” and “being responsive to Maori.”
More and more pieces of legislation now incorporate references to the Treaty
Currently over 30 pieces of major legislation refer to the Treaty or its principles.
In terms of secondary legislation there are many more.
In 2001 Mathew Palmer, son of our former Prime Minister, who is Dean of Law at Victoria University pointed to the dangers of infecting legislation with vague and generic reference to the Treaty of Waitangi
The reason is obvious.
You do not need a PhD in law to see the folly of peppering legislation with something that no one - least of all the current Government - can define
The only result of infecting our laws with nebulous and meaningless references to the Treaty is to create endless opportunities for further exploitation, confusion and mischief making
The incorporation of these vague and generic references to Treaty principles may seem innocuous, but like internet viruses they are eating away and undermining the legal and constitutional basis of our country.
They are unexploded time bombs!
Let me give you an example.
Have you ever heard of the of the Tertiary Review Advisory Commission?
This Commission, whose members would be unknown to 99% of us, has taken upon itself to reshape New Zealand’s constitution.
The Commission has issued a report stating that the principles of the Treaty allows for Maori autonomy and authority over Maori tertiary education
Well that was news to Parliament and the public of New Zealand.
Come to think of it I suspect the term “tertiary education” was not in widespread use in 1840.
Let me quote something I said in Parliament earlier this year on Treaty of Waitangi interpretation because it encapsulates the NZ First position:
“What on earth is this country doing, with hundreds of quasi-governmental groups making all sorts of interpretations, which the Minister, the Prime Minister and the Government are not prepared to own up to, and how are ordinary New Zealanders to understand where they fit into this long term policy making, when the Government has no idea what the principles are?”
Before I leave the topic of the abuse of language that has become such a major tactic of the Treaty Industry let me make one final point.
Language can be used to enlighten and inform.
Conversely it can be put to more sinister purposes.
When it come to the Treaty overwhelmingly we see the language of dissembling.
The more obscure, the more nebulous and the more elusive the meaning of Treaty principles the more scope exists for deceit and deception.
Which leads me into the next, and final, aspect of the Treaty Industry I want to cover
I have talked about the implicit censorship that surrounds the Treaty and the vagueness of its principles as conditions that have favoured the burgeoning Treaty Industry
There is one more factor I want to cover
Greed - Venality
The Treaty Industry is big business - a multi-billion dollar industry
Most people are aware of the major settlements of Treaty claims that started in the early 1990’s such as the Fisheries, Tainui and Ngai Tahu settlements.
All these settlements were around $170 million each
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.
And spending on things Maori now runs at $8.2b per annum. That’s right: 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. But really, who is getting that money?
Although these are settlements of bona fide grievances it is legitimate to ask what real improvement has this money bought for most Maori?
But, apart from direct settlement of Treaty claims, there are plenty of other streams of public largesse connected to the Treaty Industry
Te Puni Kokiri, the Department for Maori Affairs - although it has over 500 staff of its own - and one of the biggest concentrations of policy analysts in Wellington - is ladling out money aplenty to the consulting fraternity. Over $5m since the present Government came into Office
Government spending on the promotion of te Reo - the Maori language - is running into hundreds of millions. Whatever one thinks of the merits or otherwise of that policy - the advent of a Maori TV channel will cause spending to rise exponentially.
Promoting culture is a fine thing - but given the actual needs facing most Maori is this really the highest priority?
The Crown Forestry Rental Trust is a classic illustration of how the Treaty Industry functions.
Until recently this was an organization that most New Zealanders had probably never heard of. This little known organisation has now accumulated more than $300m in cash and securities - and generates funding revenue of $20m a year.
The Crown Forestry Rental Trust was created in 1990 to hold rents from land under state forests in trust until Maori claims under the Treaty were settled. At the time the trust deed stated:
“It is expected that the tribunal will have heard most of the claims relating to forest land by the middle of 1992”
The Crown Forestry Rental Trust, like the Treaty Industry as a whole, has turned into a perpetual motion machine.
For instance, despite the original timetable by 1999 there were still around 100 claimants in the central North Island
The Trust now supports a staff of 40 and has over its 12 years dished out $50m with only marginal progress on settlement of major claims.
No doubt there are many well-intentioned people connected with the Trust.
But the fact is that many people have a vested interest in perpetuating this and so many other offshoots of the Treaty Industry
To use an old expression, people are generally not usually in the habit of biting the hand that feeds them lavishly
What I will say is that seeing the reported size of the legal bills the Trust has paid - some lawyers must have taken advanced degrees in invoicing!
But New Zealanders are not stupid.
Ask ordinary Kiwis, including Maori, what they make of the Treaty Industry and you hear:
- A Gravy Train!
- Snouts in the Trough!
- Money for Nothing!
New Zealanders are being mocked
The Treaty has been turned into a tax
An undeclared tax.
And of course the overwhelming majority of Maori are also suffering from the imposition of this hidden tax
One further financial aspect of the Treaty is worth noting
The proponents of the current system are always careful to use the term “the Crown” when presenting demands.
Strangely, there seems to be an aversion - a certain coyness - about using the term taxpayer
This is playing with words - there is no mythical mountain of gold held by the Crown - its all taxpayer money
Money can only be spent once. To the extent that we fritter it away on bogus and tokenistic activities we deny resources to solving the real problems confronting Maori.
NZ First Policy
I have explained what I see as the factors behind the booming Treaty Industry
Now I want to set out where NZ First stands
Our policy is that urgent action needs to be taken to stop this juggernaut.
What will we do?
One: We will work to expose what is really going on by shining the light of day into obscure nooks and crannies, asking the hard questions and punching through the political correctness
Two: In Parliament we will oppose at every opportunity the insidious, creeping infestation of our legal and governmental system with ill considered references to undefinable Treaty principles.
Three: We will do in our power to derail the Treaty gravy train.
And just in case there is any doubt about where we stand, our approach does not imply
- Requiring any New Zealander to deny their heritage or origins
- Imposing some sort of common culture
But we do believe in having a solid foundation and a shared understanding of what it means to be a New Zealander.
Without that secure foundation - our differences - and they are many in our multicultural society - will divide and separate us, rather than contributing to New Zealand’s special place in the world
NZ First believes that NZ has taken the wrong road on race relations
We have gone down a road that has led us into quicksand.
If you care for New Zealand be deeply disturbed by the damage that is being done under the guise of the Treaty of Waitangi
The ultimate tragedy of the current situation is not only that it has opened the door for the squandering of public money but that it also betrays the very people it purports to serve.
By diverting enormous resources, energy and attention from real to contrived issues
the Treaty Industry hinders the efforts of Maori to overcome disadvantage.
A Treaty that should be a symbol of what unites and binds us as nation has become perverted into a source of division, rancour and resentment
A Treaty that should be a source of national pride, has instead turned into a source of enrichment for a select few claiming to serve the interests of Maori.
Where is this nonsense taking us?
We are subsidising the subversion of our own country
Connoisseurs of the absurd can only gaze on in astonishment as New Zealand pursues its bizarre and self-destructive approach to race relations
The madness must end
And that, ladies and gentlemen is why, at the close of my speech, I urge you to do three things:
First - Give a Damn!
be indignant - be outraged - be scandalised at the pilfering of the public purse that is the Treaty Industry.
Second, support the only party that has and will openly and consistently speak out about this abuse.
And finally, and this is the most important thing I want to say today,
Vote for NZ First and do something about it! Your Party vote is the greatest power you have.