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ACT Urges More Maori Cultural Influence On Law

ACT Urges More Maori Cultural Influence On Law

At the ALRAC conference today, ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs and Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks will criticise the New Zealand Law Commission's proposals for courts to be more like hui, with dollops of indigenous ritual - but call for much greater assimilation of Maori concepts, including whakamaa (shame), utu (retribution), and muru (reparation).

He will speak in a session featuring Dr Mason Durie, and an Australian covering the law's recognition of Aboriginal customs - such as payback spearing in the legs.

Mr Franks urges much more `indigeniety' in our law, to respect the Maori cultural values shared by most New Zealanders, describing them as traditional elements of most effective justice systems - including in all major cultures mingling in New Zealand.

"The self-anointed elite, who've controlled our justice system for 40 years, despise many traditional values. Our crime explosion is no accident. They've tried to build a society on the theory that if we're nice enough to criminals, they'll be nice back, eliminating shame and blame. They pretend to respect Maori custom - but only the symbols, not the substance," Mr Franks says.

Mr Franks cites among examples of what he calls cultural imperialism.

• A welfare system that draws no distinction between those trying to help themselves and contribute to their communities, and those who prey on their neighbours.

• Family law that makes marriage promises unenforceable and expressly prohibits any sanction - even for the most callous breaches of family obligations.

• A proposal to criminalise parents who smack a child, no matter how good the parent.

• The Clean Slate Bill, which will suppress the records of up to 700,000 offenders. "It is Taleban level cultural vandalism. Any healthy society relies on concern for reputation and shame to reward good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour. When the state blocks normal social sanctions it is forced to rely on ever increasing formal punishments."

• Resource management and building laws that deprive Maori and pakeha of the fundamental rights of property ownership. "Not being allowed to do what you want your land provided it doesn't interfere with your neighbours, breaches Article 2 of the Treaty."

"My sympathies are with Potaka Marae Maori, who want to build a fish farm without the interference of the RMA commissars from Gisborne. Where is the cultural respect when a property owner has to get a fire permit to heat hangi stones?

"There's no point in pretending respect for an indigenous culture by encouraging religious intrusions, such as karakia in court, while paying a human rights establishment to prosecute someone who advertises for a Christian forecourt attendant.

"We would all benefit if Maori took aim at the law's new hostility to courage, to consensual risk-taking, to self-defence.

"A feminist nanny state can never genuinely respect an indigenous, or any other, culture. Their whole point is social engineering. That's why they want power, and why they'll do anything to cling to it. They don't believe in freedom, when freedom means letting people choose to do things most of us don't approve of.

"The tolerance of a genuinely free society would be the best protection for Maori and our other traditional cultures. A limited secular state can't use taxpayers' funds to sponsor the self-anointed's view of what human nature should be. In that kind of state, cultural features persist when individuals choose they should. They are persuaded by parents and grandparents, friends, neighbours, books, films, even clerics - not because the law puts the coercive power of the state behind a particular clique.

"We should all support more `indigeneity' in our law, if it means more respect for cultural freedom in general," Mr Franks said.

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