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We Are All New Zealanders

Don Brash MP
National Party Leader

29 August 2005

We Are All New Zealanders

National Party Leader Don Brash has today signalled changes to speed up the Treaty process and treat all New Zealanders on the basis of their need not their race.

"There can be no basis for government funding based on race, no basis for separate Maori electorates, no basis for introducing Maori wards in local authority elections, and no obligation for local government to consult Maori in preference to other New Zealanders.

"I meant every word of the Orewa speech last year, and I stand by those conclusions today. We are one country with many peoples, not two peoples living in some form of partnership.

"The main difference between National and Labour is our determination to get the process concluded quickly, and a willingness to make the changes necessary to achieve that.

"The second major difference is the fundamental issue of references to the 'principles of the Treaty of Waitangi' in legislation. These are the source of the divisive and race-related political correctness afflicting our society.

"And the third big area of difference is dealing with the racial nonsense that has already been unleashed, in large part due to those Treaty references in our legislation. We badly need to inject some commonsense back into these issues. National is determined to fix this problem. Labour doesn't yet recognise there is a problem.

"There are more than 1200 claims still awaiting a Waitangi Tribunal hearing. The current process almost seems designed to slow the settlement process down.

"Members of the Waitangi Tribunal are not even full-time. Indeed the chairman of the Tribunal is also the Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court, and the Deputy Chair also serves on the Court. We will make full-time appointments to the tribunal and increase its capability so it can get through its work more quickly.

"This will place additional work on the Office of Treaty Settlements and we will increase its capacity as required.

"But that is not enough. We cannot allow the bureaucratic approach associated with the Waitangi Tribunal to delay settlements which could, given the experience we now have with previously settled claims, be completed quickly if we have the will and determination.

"Previous settlements have set the parameters of future ones, and that should allow us to shorten the existing cumbersome process. "National will speed the process up by empowering suitable people to act as direct negotiators with claimant groups. We will challenge claimant groups to come directly to the table, to do the deals, and end the grievance, and allow their people to get ahead.

"There are 39 statutes containing references to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Initially that might have seemed harmless enough, like a feel-good mission statement. But nobody knows what it could possibly mean, or how you could comply with it if you tried.

"After all, the Treaty contains just three short clauses, and deals with the government of New Zealand, property rights and citizenship.

"The next National Government is committed to removing these legislative requirements and vague references to the Treaty from our statutes. Changes to the Local Government Electoral Act and the Resource Management Act are of the highest priority.

"No other group within our population is so governed and regulated as Maori. There are no less than five government agencies specifically set up to deal either exclusively with Maori or with Maori issues.

"They are Te Puni Kokiri, Te Mangai Paho, the Maori Land Court, the Waitangi Tribunal, and the Office of Treaty Settlements.

"In our first term of government, we will be looking very closely at each of these agencies: first to assess what they've achieved over the last few years, and second to determine what changes should be made to ensure we move quickly toward our goal of ending Treaty grievances and ensuring that all New Zealanders have equal rights under the law.

"Because by 2010 we will have resolved all historical Treaty grievances, both the Waitangi Tribunal and the Office of Treaty Settlements should be able to be wound up by the end of that year.

"While obviously judgment calls about funding for Maori programmes need to be made by people with an understanding of things Maori, it is not at all clear that accounting and management functions need to be duplicated, as is currently the case with Te Mangai Paho and New Zealand on Air.

"Te Puni Kokiri itself also duplicates a large number of functions carried out by other agencies. Our goal in the medium term has to be to provide all services to New Zealanders through agencies that are not ethnically based. We will not be rushing that process, but we will start moving down that path," says Dr Brash.

ENDS

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