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Political Correctness And Treaty Grievances

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to Grey Power, Whitianga 2.30pm Friday 7th March 2003.

“ Political Correctness And Treaty Grievances”

One of the worst curses that can be inflicted on any nation is that of political correctness.

Much of it is laughable – books have been written about it.

We have all had a laugh when someone short of stature is described as vertically challenged.

Or follicly challenged if their hair is starting to thin with the advance of time.

But in New Zealand we have become the home of this state of mind.

And although we might laugh about it there is a sinister side to political correctness.

It is a form of self-deception. It means that you must always look at some subjects through politically correct spectacles.

Political correctness means that some subjects are not discussed in polite company – or can only be raised in a certain way that does not break the unspoken laws written by the thought police.

When somebody not caught up in this unspoken conspiracy raises issues, they are immediately vilified by the usual gaggle of guilty white liberals and the brown radicals that have infested this country in recent years.

Last week for example, Dame Kiwi Te Kanawa had the effrontery to point out that Maori in Australia seemed to be doing a lot better than Maori in New Zealand.

She suggested that a change of attitude might bring a change for the better for Maori in New Zealand.

Perhaps she was thinking out loud and perhaps some of her remarks were too generalised and out of touch.

But the point is that as a Maori and an over-achiever she had been thinking about the problems back home and raised some points that were surely worth discussing.

What happened? The commissars of political correctness attacked her.

One of them – a certain Labour cabinet minister – even went so far as to say that important Mäori role models such as Dame Kiri should not criticise Maori – only encourage them.

The point is that Dame Kiri had noticed this phenomenon – which Maori in Australia were completely different – they actually have to work.

Now that is a fact.

Maori achieve much more in Australia than they do in New Zealand.

They have left behind the Treaty shroud and the classical fallback position that they are the victims of 163 years of cultural, political, economic and social vandalism.

In this country there are teams of grievance gurus and guilty white liberals who daily preach the message that Maori have only others to blame for their plight.

This is a gross insult to all New Zealanders but most of all to Maori.

Because all of the people in this room can actually remember when just about every Maori in New Zealand had a job and it was hard to find someone who collected the dole instead of working.

What has happened since then? It’s simple.

Maori have borne the brunt of the social and economic change that has swept the country since the mid 1980s.

Maori workers were in high demand in freezing works, factories, and the fishing industry, the wharves and on the roads.

These workers were hit hardest by the so-called economic reforms of the late eighties and early nineties.

Instead of trying to re-educate or retrain these workers, the Labour government of the time simply threw them on to the industrial scrap heap.

Do not believe the latest unemployment figures that say New Zealand has almost full employment.

In parts of Northland Maori unemployment is up to eighty percent.

But you are not told about that.

You are given a politically correct message that everything in the land of the long white cloud is wonderful!

This government of self-deceivers does not understand what is happening in the cities, in the towns and in the countryside.

If it did it would understand that one of the biggest fears ordinary New Zealanders have is that they are caught in a politically correct Treaty time trap that will hold this country in a vice-like grip for centuries to come.

The Treaty grievance industry has all the impact of a plague-like disease as it spreads through all echelons of the public service and government at both local and national level.

Genuine outstanding issues are settled at a snail’s pace but the industry surrounding these claims is galloping out of control.

In Parliament the Treaty Negotiations Minister Margaret Wilson could give no answer to a question about when outstanding claims would be settled.

Depending on which set of figures the Government issues – at the present rate of progress it will take between 647 and 3050 years to settle all outstanding claims.

There are just under a thousand of them. The Treaty Industry poses a serious threat to social cohesion - feeding as it does on division, resentment and spurious and ever changing entitlements.

It also undermines the integrity of the legal system and is covertly changing the constitutional basis of this country.

The encroachment of vague and ill-defined references to Treaty principles into our laws should worry all New Zealanders.

In particular, the infiltration of Treaty talk should alarm the legal fraternity – the supposed guardians of our legal traditions.

In practice, what we hear is silence from the legal profession in the face of the Treaty virus that is infecting our laws with vague references to some mystical set of “ principles” that nobody can define.

Is it being too sceptical to suggest that as some lawyers, particularly the friends of this Government are among the major beneficiaries of the Treaty grievance industry they have little incentive to challenge or criticise it?

The Treaty juggernaut, and the accompanying political correctness represent a scandalous squandering of resources that are critical to meeting genuine Maori needs.

Last year, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority spent $72,000 on a report to gauge its ‘responsiveness’ to Maori.

The authority is the same agency that delivered the NCEA fiasco.

The responsiveness report was prepared by Wellington consultants Gardiner and Parata.

The principals of that consultancy are, in fact, the high profile National Party luminaries Wira Gardiner and Hekia Parata.

But make no mistake. The agenda is the same with Labour. Just change the faces and the names on the pages.

Among the report’s recommendations were that NZQA should:

Develop a strategic statement based on Treaty principles

Assess the training needs of senior and middle managers

Deliver a planning framework to guide managers in the planning and delivery of service to Maori

Nothing very profound there.

But that is the beauty of the Treaty industry - it abounds in words like “responsiveness” “strategic,” and “frameworks”.

In this politically correct, brave new world, there can never be enough strategies, frameworks and visions. To this you can add phrases like “capacity building” etc etc.

Take that wonderful all-purpose term beloved of the Treaty industry - ‘responsiveness.’

Responsiveness is a completely circular expression – it’s what it is defined to be - on any given day by any given highly paid consultant.

There is another term to apply to this stuff – it begins with b and ends with t - but is not used in polite society!

But what is all this ‘responsiveness to Maori” really about? In a word –fear!

Government agencies are so besotted with political correctness that chief executives live in perpetual fear and dread of one eventuality.

That is their organisation might be found to be culturally insensitive or guilty of failing to comply with Treaty of Waitangi principles.

In other words – their lack of responsiveness.

This oversight – failing to apply Treaty principles - is the most heinous of crimes – and certainly outweighs whether the organisation is actually delivering a worthwhile service to the public.

Since Treaty principles have not been defined, and the Government resists all attempts to clarify them, there is plenty of scope for paranoia about Treaty principles.

This is the same mad world of Stalin’s show trials!

And in its use of nameless fear, it is a way of operating that the Spanish Inquisition would have applauded.

Because there is no defence against something that is never spelt out - never defined – totally beyond the realm of objective evidence.

There are no geographical or political boundaries. It is like a jihad fought by soldiers who have no idea of what they are fighting against or who or what their enemies really are.

Much of the mysterious world of Treaty principles is tantamount to a modern form of witchcraft.

Since a charge of failing to be sufficiently sensitive to Treaty principles can mean anything you want it to mean – the accusation, the smear is enough to cower people into a state of fearful silence.

And in this climate of cultural correctness the only defence is to get a tick from one of the cultural commissars or any of the other highly paid political shaman.

There is a high price tag attached - but then it’s only taxpayer money.

What do NZQA and all the other agencies that go in for this cultural vetting really get?

What are they actually buying?


By commissioning a report into their “Maori responsiveness” an agency is seen to have genuflected to the prevailing orthodoxy.

What tangible benefit has been created? None!

Have Maori actually benefited? No!

This sort of charade – this sort of duplicity has to stop

Because while Government agencies are engaged in all this play acting their real business if suffering.

And in fact there is a useful rule of thumb by which to gauge organisational performance in the state sector – the more political correctness and Treaty talk the less actual service delivery is happening.

Given its propensity to fund the Treaty industry, it is not unreasonable to ask what the priorities of the NZ Qualifications Authority are?

This is, after all, the agency that has oversight of the NCEA debacle that is affecting the educational prospects of our children.

Apart from lavishing sums on reports into Maori responsiveness, and imposing huge fees for NCEA, the NZQA has greatly enlarged its staff numbers, hiked up management salaries and made big payouts to consultants

The Herald has informed us that the Education Minister Trevor Mallard had released some interesting information on this organisation:

10 senior managers at NZQA were paid over $120,000, compared with none a year earlier.

Another 22 managers earned over $80,000 – more than double the number of staff paid that in the previous year.

Total staff numbers have doubled over 2 years to 238

Spending on consultants tripled from $117,000 in 2001 to $360,000 in the current year.

But all is well as far as this Government is concerned.

In terms of what really matters with Mr Mallard and this Government, NZQA have the Maori Responsiveness seal of approval.

Let us look at another example of the Treaty grievance machine in action - the Crown Forestry Rental Trust – this organisation is a massive state funded research agency.

The Crown Forestry Rental Trust is supposed to use the interest from Crown forest rentals to help Maori take claims to the Waitangi Tribunal for Crown land on which forests are growing

That is its purpose under its trust deed.

Progress towards that objective can best be described as glacial.

But in the meantime this particular taxpayer funded milch cow has bucketfuls of money for all sorts of pet projects.

For example, the Crown Forestry Rental Trust’s chairman Sir Graham Latimer was shouted a 10-day trio to London for a Privy Council meeting in May 2001 – at a cost of $24,000.

The case before the Privy Council concerned fish – a challenge to the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission – and had nothing to do with land and forests.

The defence for this junket was that Sir Graham had to keep up to date on the issues being discussed

This sort of flimsy excuse can be used to justify anything, anywhere.

Predictably, the chief executive and other members of the Trust sought to justify the trip.

That put me in mind of Benjamin Franklin’s famous remark –which has wide applicability in the Treaty industry:

“We must indeed hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Last year the high profile Maori lawyer Donna Hall sued the National Business Review for defamation.

During trial cross-examination at the High Court in August 2002 it was revealed that the Crown Forestry Rental Trust was paying $20,000 a month retainer to her consultancy firm - Te Aro Limited.

That translates to a cool quarter of a million annually.

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust and we will keep on asking them.

We will also continue to oppose this concerted debasement of our laws with non-specific Treaty clauses.

But the agenda to undermine and radically alter the New Zealand constitution does not stop there.

I do not always see eye to eye with the political journalist Chris Trotter - but in terms of the Treaty Industry he is one of the few commentators who will take on the prevailing orthodoxy

He has grasped the point that New Zealand First has been making about how the Government is using the Treaty to rework the constitution – in a highly undemocratic way.

Public intellectuals like Trotter only earn their keep if they alert the public to what is really going on – what is really happening behind the wall of rhetoric that the Government lays down like an artillery barrage.

If we recall the Speech from the Throne after the election, it included the following passage:

“The basis of constitutional government in this country is to be found in its founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi. My government values and remains committed to strengthening its relationship with tangata whenua. That means fulfilling its obligations as a Treaty partner to support self-determination for whanau, hapu and iwi.”
As far as we know this statement has never been debated properly and that most New Zealanders are probably not even aware of it.

Is that Speech from the Throne statement a position the best legal brains in NZ have endorsed? No!

Is it a position that Parliament has even debated? No!

Is it a position the public were ever asked to endorse or vote upon? No!

The fact is that the Constitution Act 1986 makes no reference to the Treaty of Waitangi.

There is no reference to the Treaty in the Bill of Rights.

There is no constitutional basis and no public mandate for the Government to unilaterally declare that from henceforth the Treaty of Waitangi is the basis of constitutional government in New Zealand.

It is a measure of the arrogance of this government that it can blithely initiate such a radical constitutional development in such an insolent and brazen fashion.

And add to this, a new Supreme Court appointed by the Government with the judges attuned to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

What about the principles of natural justice? They are being ignored.

Our warning is this – if we allow a Labour led Government to treat the New Zealand constitution with contempt – what safeguards do we have for our freedom, our law and our democracy?

A few words are called for about the National Party’s position on the Treaty grievance industry.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Well Bill English, like Rip Van Winkle, has finally woken up and realised that the issue that New Zealand First has been hammering consistently does matter to New Zealanders.

OK - he has adopted – if belatedly - the NZ First view of the danger that vague – ill-defined Treaty principles create in corrupting our law and constitution.

But notice how National only takes a position when the groundwork has been done.

NZ First spent much of the past year alerting New Zealand to what the Treaty Industry was up to.

NZ First actually flew through the flak – we made our stand clear when New Zealanders faced election choices. Now the pathfinders have located and illuminated the target National feels it can say something.

On the Treaty Industry, Bill English is like a timid badger that has calculated that it is safe to emerge from its burrow.

Don’t be misled. When the sound of gunfire is heard, Bill English or whoever leads National into the next election, will scurry back to safety and revert to National’s habitual waffle, evasion and equivocation on the Treaty industry.

After all, the political correctness flourished under National and they cannot escape that fact.

We want to leave you with a message – and that is the Treaty grievance juggernaut is doing enormous damage to our country.

That damage is social and economic. It threatens the coherence and unity of our society

The Treaty industry is poison - it is a toxic brew of half-truths, a quagmire of clichés and circular arguments. In other words - fertile soil for all sorts of politically correct mischief to thrive.

There are many groups who should be making a stand against the Treaty industry.

There are many who know what damage is being done but who are afraid to speak out.

Only NZ First has consistently campaigned to rid us of this pestilence.

And we will keep doing what must be done by;

- exposing the insidious way the Treaty industry is infiltrating our institutions:

- alerting New Zealanders to the dangers that the Treaty industry poses: and

attacking the Treaty grievance industry with all our conviction.

As a great American naval captain once said: “Surrender never – we have not yet begun to fight!”

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