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Rodney Hide: Waitangi Day - New Zealand's Birthday

Waitangi Day - New Zealand's Birthday

Sunday 6 Feb 2005

Rodney Hide - Speeches - Other

Rodney Hide, Leader ACT New Zealand - Waitangi Day Address; Backbencher Pub, Molesworth Street, Wellington; 1.30pm, Sunday 6 February 2005.

Today we celebrate our country's founding.

It is a pleasure to be celebrating our special day with some of our newest New Zealanders present. Welcome. It's a great pleasure to be nowhere near Waitangi.

There's enough of a circus without adding another party leader to it.

There is no mention in the Treaty signed on the 6^th February 1840 of what you hear of so much these days -- Treaty principles, partnership, a living document, or of one race having a special claim over all others. Quite the opposite.

The Treaty is a simple document: Article One cedes sovereignty to the Queen of England; Article Two confirms and guarantees to Maori "full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess"; and Article Three imparts to Maori "all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects".

The Treaty's purpose is straightforward enough: "to protect [for Maori] their just Rights and Property and to secure to them the enjoyment of Peace and Good Order," that is, to ensure law and order over anarchy in the fledging colony.

It took just 569 words.

It's a founding document of which we can be proud. It recognises that each and every one of us has the same rights regardless of our skin colour or how long we have been New Zealanders. The Treaty does not set up a hierarchy of who came first, who came second or who came next.

The Treaty was borne not out of conquest, bloody war or revolution. It was borne out what was then just two peoples of different origins and histories agreeing to live together in the one place as equals under the one law. The principle it established can be applied equally to all.

So today is our nation's birthday. It's a time for all of us to come together to celebrate our country, to be proud of our achievements, and to look forward to our future.

And we have such a lot to celebrate... and so much to be proud of.

In just half-a-dozen generations those that went before us built New Zealand into one of the richest countries in the world. We are renowned for our achievements way above the size of our country. Our race relations were the envy of the world. We are a country of inventors, writers, artists, sporting greats, entrepreneurs and businessmen and women.

We are now a melting pot of peoples from all the corners of the world. We live together, work together and raise our children together under one law in peace just as our forebears all those years ago hoped and dreamed that we would.

And our future is bright. We are an entrepreneurial people with a "can-do" culture. In so many fields of endeavour we show that despite our smallness and distance from other countries we are a match for the world's best.

Our biggest hurdle is our own government sitting across everything that we want to do sucking the life out of our drive and ambition. But that is something that we can do something about. We have an election this year.

But new New Zealanders - and some not so new ones - may be puzzled by how we celebrate our national day. There's no razzmatazz. There's no coming together. There's no joy.

It has become nothing more than an annual rain-dance and a media circus!

At Waitangi we have seen flags burnt, dignitaries spat at, Helen Clark reduced to tears, and mud flung at Don Brash. That's not behaviour to be proud of.

Compare that to the United States' Independence Day or across the Tasman to Australia Day. There's pride there. There's celebration. There people come together.

It should be the same here. All New Zealanders should be proud of our national birthday. All New Zealanders should feel part of it.

Today should be a day when we reaffirm that while we have different histories and origins, we are all New Zealanders. We should celebrate that the law treats us equally.

Sadly we can't. The Treaty is now interpreted to give Maori a special status over and above other New Zealanders. Maori supposedly have a "partnership" with the government that other New Zealanders don't have. That's rubbish. There is nothing in the Treaty about a special partnership.

Helen Clark's approach is to pigeon-hole New Zealanders racially... and then to "close the gaps" by applying money and preferences according to race. Helen Clark's policies are demeaning and racist.

Helen Clark fanned expectations and then failed to deliver. The result? A dedicated Maori party.

We shouldn't be surprised by any of this. Helen Clark is a socialist. She wants to redistribute resources. She wants people dependent. It serves her purpose to use the Treaty to justify distributing resources along racial lines. That's not what the Treaty is about.

Here's another thing, part of the Treaty's original purpose was to give security to people's property rights. People could then be sure that what they owned today they would own tomorrow. That certainty is the basis of peace and prosperity.

Of course, the socialists don't like that. They want power and control. They want everyone's property rights up in the air. To that end they redefine what the Treaty is about.

For example, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen declares the Treaty "a living document where new applications or implications may arise as circumstances change".

Dr Cullen believes what you own must be defined and redefined on a "case-by-case basis" according to the "circumstances" of the time. Of course, for him its politicians that will do that defining and redefining. Not people engaged in trade. Not the courts interpreting where one property right ends and another starts. But politicians. That's an invitation to protest and to lobby to get what you want. We shouldn't be surprised by what we see on TV.

The uncertainty now is huge. For example, we now need resource consents to do the most mundane things on our own property. Things that we should be able to do as of right. And now as part of the consent-granting process we must seek permission of the local Maori tribe. Why? Because of the "partnership".

That's a recipe for racial division, graft and corruption.

The Treaty itself remains a treasure. But politicians with their lolly-scramble approach to the Treaty have perpetrated a costly, divisive and shameful scam. They have spawned an entire industry of lobbyists, treaty lawyers and professional protestors.

In New Zealand now protest pays off. It sure beats working for a living. The costs are low. And the rewards are great.

What about Tame Iti welding a shotgun, shooting the flag, and threatening the Waitangi Tribunal? What would happen to any of us if we turned up today in the foyer of the Court next door with a shotgun? We'd be rightly carted off and locked up.

If only the Treaty was today what it was meant to be: a unifying, founding document, which would help to reinforce equality.

I am sick of the ongoing Treaty misinterpretation. I am sick of the Treaty grievance industry. I am sick of the annual hijacking of Waitangi Day.

ACT says Waitangi Day should be a day of dignity. It should be a day to look forward with optimism. To help achieve that, returning to Norman Kirk's concept of a New Zealand Day may have merit. But the day's name is not the problem. It's our entire approach. And it's not the approach that we have for this one day. It's our approach every day.

We should drop the Labour Party mumbo-jumbo that has grown up around the Treaty. We should read it straight as it is. We should apply one rule of law for all. That's what the Treaty is about. That's what we should be doing.

And that means an end to the Maori-reserved seats in our Parliament. We don't have Asian or Pacific Island seats. We shouldn't have Maori ones. Maori don't need special treatment to succeed. That should be obvious. The patronising Labour Party like to think otherwise. They are wrong. Maori can make it and foot it with the world's best.

We need to put the Treaty grievance industry behind us for all our sakes. We must make sure that proper process prevails and that violent protest and intimidation don't pay off.

I am pleased that the Prime Minister now agrees with ACT that there should be a cut-off date for lodging Treaty claims. But she must set the date. That date should be the end of this year. Otherwise the grievance industry will continue without end.

We also need to set a timetable for settlement. The Prime Minister said last week that all claims could be settled in 10 to 15 years. Well, let's be ambitious. Let's say 10. And let's legislate. Otherwise it will drag on forever. That means five years to hear all claims, and another five years to settle them. And then disband the entire Waitangi Tribunal apparatus.

We need to look forward, not back.

ACT in government will honour the Treaty. Not as the Labour Party would have it. But as it was meant to be. We will ensure the same standard of citizenship for all New Zealanders. We won't play racial favourites.

We believe that Iwi should have been allowed their day in court on the Foreshore and Seabed. It was Labour and New Zealand First that robbed Maori of that right. Why? Because they see it as their job to determine who gets what according to the circumstances of the time.

Every New Zealander must be treated the same in the eyes of the law - whether you just stepped off the plane, your great great grandparents come via a sailing ship, or on a waka over a thousand years ago, we are all New Zealanders. That's what the Treaty is about. That's what we are celebrating here today. That's the way to ensure peace and prosperity.

We're proud of this country and like the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders, we want to celebrate its birthday in style every year by all New Zealanders.

Tolerance for greed, for scams and for spitting, for screaming and for abuse, for violence and for gun waving protestors, is fast running out.

It's time for February 6 to be a day that promotes unity and pride. That's more of a reflection of the country I know.

Thank you.


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