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English Address: Piako Electorate Fund Dinner

Bill English Address to the Piako Electorate Fund Raiser Dinner at the Matamata Club, Matamata

Why One Standard Of Citizenship?

New Zealand has a short dramatic history. Because we are a small country, things can change fast and our society has to change fast too.

We are a mixture of peoples - Polynesian, Asian, European, Maori. We will become more of a mixed-race nation over the next generation.

It is already hard to tell who belongs where - just go to a children's sports event and try to work out who belongs to which race. Look at the All Blacks. Look at the Maori All Blacks.

The face of New Zealand is browning and whitening, and there is yet to be significant Asian intermarriage into our population, but it will most surely occur.

This isn't about how New Zealand should be. It's what people are doing; it's how they are living.

I want each and every New Zealander to know their own story, but also to be proud of the story about their country - a country that has opened its arms to them; that cares for their children. A country that is their home, wherever they have come from.

Today, we cannot give them that story. Because today the story of New Zealand is about failure, loss and division, reparation and recrimination.

We have a history people don't know, because they don't want to know it, and because that history is so loaded up with political correctness, and with blame. Sure, there are other positive stories that go along with it, but they are not about the heart of our nation.

I want to change that. I want this country collectively to share the pride in what we have made of this country - the same pride many New Zealanders have felt for most of their lives.

What do I mean by citizenship? I mean people who love their country; who recognise that New Zealand represents rights of legislative privileges and opportunities that are unique. People who treasure our national values of fairness, equality, opportunity, and our environment; the intimacy and the tolerance; the determination and the hopes of our small, distant country.

To me, these outweigh the significance of race. Indeed, looking to our future, the sense of our nation has to be stronger than the sense of our different races.

Is it more important to be a New Zealander than it is to be Pakeha? Yes.

It is more important to be a New Zealander than it is to be Maori? Yes.

I believe our country honours all its citizens by treating them equally. This was not always the case. At different times our laws have discriminated against different groups - they have not had the full rights of citizenship.

But now they do. People may be disadvantaged by birth, or wealth or misfortune, but being a New Zealander disadvantages no one by the laws and rights of that citizenship.

So one standard of citizenship is a call for unity and for progress. We must, for our children's sake, break out of the paralysing ideology of the Treaty, and the arrogant attitudes that go with it. Every New Zealand has a sense of what this citizenship means - no left-wing elite has the right to claim it exclusively.

One standard of citizenship is not an attack on Maori. It represents the fulfilment of all that Maori have striven for in 150 years - equal protection of the law; certain property rights; a place for different beliefs and customs, and a future that is uplifting.

Maori language, Maori culture and beliefs will persist and flourish if enough New Zealanders think it worthwhile. It will not survive if it is ideological - as more real, more generous, more moral. Like all groups, Maori have good and bad traditions and ways of thinking that are sources of progress, and others that cause stagnation.

Pakeha New Zealanders have a tradition as long, as deep and as valid. But our citizenship will not be built on a contest of colonial cultures - it will be built on a new, third culture.

It's indigenous, it's unique to New Zealand; it's shaped by the realities of today's New Zealanders, rather than a prisoner to yesterday's New Zealanders.

It's a culture where:

* New Zealanders would stop blaming events of 150 years ago for how they are today.

* New Zealanders would feel empowered to control their own destiny and accept responsibility for their choices.

* The Treaty would be seen as the first step in a long road to fulfilment of citizenship - built on by laws, customs and popular wisdom it can no longer replace.

* Race would matter less than citizenship.

* The State would recognise citizens' rights and democratic processes as paramount over whakapapa and rangatiratanga.

* We would end the endless litany of failure that generalises far too much and categorises people as failures because of their skin colour.

* The huge amount of money wasted on sycophantic political correctness would instead go to education, support for work, and support for families.

* We would be able to tick the box for "New Zealander" on our public forms.

The list could go on.....

The Labour Government is the primary obstruction to achieving this step forward for New Zealand.

Its attitudes to Maori are patronising. It welcomes dependency. It believes the Government knows best. It tries endlessly to tell us what to think.

Labour thinks the process matters more than the result, that mediocrity is better than the lessons of failure. It applies different standards of accountability and expectation to different people depending on their race. And it believes New Zealanders are too ignorant to understand what's happening to their country.

They stand for arrogance and grievance, for guilt and separatism. And they have a Prime Minister who doesn't have the courage to talk about any of it.

That's why we must get rid of them to save New Zealand from becoming a Fiji, a Sri Lanka, a Bosnia - where ethnic differences are cultivated for political purposes - because they matter too much.

A generation of Maori leadership has been lost in the concrete jungle of Wellington bureaucracy - endless lobbying for advantage; sniffing out political opportunities; its own brand of dependency, and there is no sign of movement.

Labour says we signed the Treaty in 1860 and have to stick to it, whether we like it or not.

Michael Cullen said a few weeks ago that "the Treaty proper exists only in its Maori version" and that this version "takes precedence" over any other version.

He goes on to say the legal rulings on this are quite clear. The Maori version comes first.

Dr Cullen says:

"This is very important. It genuinely makes the Treaty a living document where new applications or implications may arise as circumstances change."

And he concludes that on this basis Maori have rights that other New Zealanders do not have.

How can we possibly limit the potential of our country to a legalistic view of a non-legal document, signed 160 years ago and read according to Maori understandings of the time?

There is no place for that in a democracy.

This is the kind of liberal fundamentalism of a generation of Labour politicians, who lost their moral compass in the 'sixties,' for whom the Treaty seems to be the only certainty in life - everything else is relative.

Full citizenship for New Zealanders is a right for everyone. No amount of political correctness will be allowed to deny that right.

But if you want an example of just how determined the politically correct brigade of this Labour Government is; look no further than the Care of Children Bill that came to Parliament this week.

This is the Bill which creates female fathers by declaring that a woman who is a parent in a same sex relationship will be known as the "father of the child."

When you put changes like this up against the Matrimonial Property Act, which Labour passed in their first term, its clear Labour has extreme views on marriage and family marriage.

Most children are brought up in stable, two parent families even if parents change as relationships breakdown and get re-established. The law of New Zealand, your country, should reflect that reality.

But instead, Labour has set out to eradicate marriage and family from the statute books.

Imagine if we tried to pass law to remove "whanau"! In my culture a father is a man, and a family is more than a group of people with psychological attachment. Why can't there be respect and inclusion for these cultural beliefs about fatherhood and family?

I want my children to grow up in a country where the Government believes it is important to have strong, supportive families. Not one where the very definition of family is expunged from the law in order to satisfy political correctness.

I want my children to grow up in a country where there is one standard of citizenship for all. If you agree, then let's work hard together to change this Labour Government.

Thank you.

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