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Brash – Nation Building or Road To Conflict

Dear Dr Brash – Nation Building or Dangerous Road to Conflict

Former Race Relations Conciliator, Gregory Fortuin has today asked Don Brash to consider whether he has embarked on a path of Nation Building or a Dangerous Road to Conflict. “I am hearing alarm bells” Fortuin said.

Fortuin asked of Brash “Will your path inspire those who believe they are right, to cross the road and build bridges with those whom they think are not, or will it light the fire that sets Maori against Pakeha. Fortuin agrees with Brash on the issue of one law for all and says “we will not survive unless we are one sovereign nation under one flag”. He however goes on to say “we are two primary peoples with many complimentary peoples. We don’t have to be clones of each other, but we are inextricably linked. What we need is harmonised diversity, many strings on one guitar making music together”.

Brash has raised many legitimate issues according to Fortuin and he agrees that “no one should receive favourable treatment based on ethnicity or skin colour”. He says however that Brash is wrong in treating Maori as just another ethnic group.” Your forbearers recognized them as Tangata Whenua in 1840 and article 2 guarantees them rights in that capacity”. He has challenged Brash to respect the agreement as a man of honour and not to trivialise it.

Fortuin also says Brash has “confused our cultural identity which is bi-lingual with the social fabric of our society that is undeniably multi-ethnic”.

On the matter of the foreshore and seabed Fortuin says “all the appeal court said was Maori should have their day in court and suddenly it became a race war about the beaches”

Fortuin has urged Brash to embrace the Georgina Te HeuHeus and Hekia Paratas saying “for goodness sake you need people with their mana for building bridges across this nation”

Fortuin concludes that “the challenge to nation building is to collectively (not dictatorially) work out how we respect the Treaty of 164 years ago in a 21st century democracy”.

For more information contact Gregory Fortuin on 021 465254

(see full statement below)

Dear Dr Brash - Nation Building or Dangerous Road to Conflict

In order to ensure my opinion was not formed by screaming newspaper headlines or 20 second sound bites, I have taken my time pondering over your speech. On your 5th priority, i.e. Race Relations, you quite rightly pose the question “what sort of nation do we want to build?” For what it is worth, I believe we will not survive unless we are one sovereign nation under one flag. We are however two primary peoples with many complementary peoples. We don’t have to be clones of each other, but we are all inextricably linked. What we need is harmonised diversity – many strings on one guitar making music together…..singing off the same hymn sheet…pooling our collective strengths for the betterment of the country as a whole.

Here is my own little test-question as to whether this was a Nation Building speech or not. “Will it inspire those who believe they are RIGHT to cross the road and build bridges with those they think are NOT” or will it LIGHT THE FLAME THAT SETS MAORI AGAINST PAKEHA?

On priority No1 (arresting the relative slide in income) - I hope you are talking about the average Kiwi Battler and not the High Earners who totally skew the averages. If you are going to do something about my fellow Poriruan brothers and sisters, then good on you Doctor B. If it is about your trickle down philosophy where the rich gets richer I look forward to your campaign-meeting in Porirua. The Brat pack came once in the 9 years they were in power.

On Priority No2 (Decay in Education) - I’m definitely with you. I am also aware that for three of the past four electoral cycles my friends on the right have been in charge. Education did not decay overnight.

On Priority No3 (Welfare) – As a Christian, I believe the good Book, “If you don’t want to work, you don’t deserve to eat”. If that is what you are saying I’m with you. If however you are going to kick the vulnerable and the marginalized and the pet hate of the heartless capitalist, solo mums, just a word of warning before you generalise – be careful what you say about my mother….she was 27 and solo with three boys 4, 6, 7.

On Priority No4 (Security) – No arguments. You do the Crime, you do the Time. And given our propensity for Commissions, how about a Commission for Victims?

Now to my Priority No1 and your No5. Posing the question as to “what sort of nation we want to be” is on the button. Articulating strong views is expected of a leader, but where is the scope for Nation Building? Where is the framework that says? “Now these are my views, how about a process for robust but respectful dialogue in order to form a collective view that will take us forward”. Instead you arrogantly become the “colonial tea planter who wants to tell the servants what to do” to quote my favourite client in my Race Conciliator days (Winston Peters). Are you at all surprised when the moderate Chair of the Fisheries Commission, Harvard graduate Shane Jones says “The days of old white men telling Maori what to do is over?”

Your take on article 3 sets a very condescending tone. One Citizenship does not mean “You natives should be thankful we made you British Citizens, now behave like us”.

You raise many legitimate issues. No one should ever receive favourable treatment because of ethnicity or skin colour. In my previous role, the Ministry of Health and the Hepatitis Foundation will tell you that I had many robust (but quiet) discussions that we should treat diseases not ethnicities. By focussing on Hepatitis B for example and delivering the service in an effective and targeted manner meant Maori and Pacific Island People who constitute 80% of the sufferers were being given a new lease of life, but no Pakeha or anybody else for that matter should be turned away. That’s policy now.

You do however totally miss the point. Maori is not just another Ethnic Group in this great country. Your forbearers recognized them as the Tangata Whenua in 1840 and article 2 guarantees them rights which I do not have as a recent immigrant. As a business person you should know that just because you don’t like what is in a dated contract, does not nullify the contract. If you wish to change it, then renegotiate it. Men of honour respect an agreement.

You are also confused on the issue of Culture/Identity versus ethnicity. The culture of this country is officially Bi-Cultural although I suspect we pay lip service to things Maori, e.g. if we have 2 official languages, could I write a cheque in Te Reo Maori and have it cashed with a smile at any bank? The Social fabric of our society on the other hand is undeniably multi-ethnic – but please don’t confuse culture/identity and ethnicity.

On the foreshore and seabed saga let’s not lose sight that all the appeal Court said was Maori should have their day in court. Suddenly it was beaten up as a race war over the beaches. It is ironic that those who speak of the law have so little faith in their own judicial system and are prepared to legislate if they don’t like the Judge’s Verdict. What we need is a decent constitution and a Constitutional Court as the final arbitrator….not expedient politicians.

You have no arguments from me on wanting to derail the gravy train when it comes to those who shamelessly live off the grievance industry. That does however not nullify legitimate grievances and I applaud your stated commitment. We cannot and must not live in the past, but we must learn from the past and deal with the atrocities of the past, or it will forever hang as an oppressive cloud over all our tomorrows. It is interesting how quickly you want to forget about the rights of the victims of horrific atrocities in this instance – let’s not be hypocritical about your priority No4.

The challenge as a nation is to collectively (not dictatorially) work out how we respect the Treaty of 164 years ago in a 21st century democracy. I have a few suggestions.

Back to the test of Nation Building. If this was a Nation Building speech as opposed to dangerous political vitriol where are the bridges and the desire for national reconciliation? Why does the only Maori MP in your party not hail your path to nationhood? In fact she gets dumped for disagreeing with the master. Why is the next member on your list ashamed? Aren’t they on your team? For goodness sake you need people with their mana to build one nation. But I suppose you now have the Arch-Angel of Reconciliation and Bridge Building in your deputy. Do you genuinely think that just because you and I don’t believe in “Taniwhas or the spirit of the mountain”, it is a bridge building strategy to call it a farce? Why trash the beliefs of others?

Allow me to let you into a little secret. The polls are right. Many of my Pakeha friends are saying “it is about time somebody stood up to those damn Maoris” and the overwhelming majority of my Maori friends are saying “this is war” (they are using much stronger language of course)

You can make up your own mind as to whether you have embarked on a path of Nation Building or the Dangerous Road to Conflict. “Will it inspire those who believe they are RIGHT to cross the road and build bridges with those whom they think are NOT” or will it LIGHT THE FLAME THAT SETS MAORI AGAINST PAKEHA? Once you let this dangerous beast out of its cage, will you take full responsibility for the aftermath? Doctor, I am hearing alarm bells!

Gregory Fortuin

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