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Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill

Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill
Hone Harawira, Member for Te Tai Tokerau
Wednesday 7 November 2007

I must say it was a real privilege and a joy to be on the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to hear the submissions on this bizarre and ridiculous Bill todelete the “Treaty of Waitangi and its principles” from legislation.

Aprivilege because it enabled me and the rest of the Committee, to get a real sense of how united the country seems to be, in opposing this mean-spirited piece of legislative malevolence.

And ajoy, because I got a buzz from the passion, the intensity, and the rationale that backstopped the overwhelming opposition to this Bill, sponsored by Doug Woolerton and represented by Pita Paraone, on behalf of NZ First; and because I was able to listen to all the groups, many of whom were non-Maori, who were able to tell us what an incredibly dumb idea this Bill was.

And they weren’t telling us it was a good idea at the wrong time, nor that it had merit but that it had simply been badly written, nor in fact were they saying that there some good clauses, which might benefit from being rewritten.

What they were saying, was that this was a bill which would do unspeakable harm to race relations in this country, roll back any gains made over the past 25 years, and work to the detriment of the whole nation.

Te Korowai Aroha Health Centre said that taking “the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles” out of legislation would not enhance Maori health, but would in fact make it even worse.

Ngai Tahu Mamoe said the principles of the Treaty actually helped protect our ecosystem from pollution, and the excessive extraction of resources.

AndSir Ivor Richardson himself said:“for its part, the Crown [in 1840] sought legitimacy from the indigenous people for its acquisition of sovereignty, and in return, it gave certain guarantees”.

These words – legitimacy, sovereignty, guarantee – all concepts pivotal to the status of the Treaty and the relationship of the Treaty partners, came up time and time again, through all the many submissions we received, and what the majority of submissions said (some 160 out of 171) was that these concepts had been discredited by successive governments, and would be permanently scarred, if this Bill were to go through.

In their submission,Te Kaunihera Kaumatua o Te Whanganui-a-Tara said:“Maori have honoured their part of the Treaty … As for the Crown, they have never fully honoured their part of the Treaty and continue to use legislation to steal what is rightfully owned by Maori – for example, the foreshore and seabed”

The Treaty was supposed to establish a partnership, in which both partners have a duty to act reasonably and in good faith, but this Bill goes a long way to destroying utterly, apartnership which is already in dire straits following this government’s support for Police use of the Terrorism Suppression Act as a vehicle for mounting attacks against Maori communities and individuals, and engendering widespread fear and anxiety throughout the wider community.

The Maori Party absolutely rejects NZ First’s unsubstantiated and ludicrous claims that taking the"Treaty of Waitangi and its principles" out of legislation, would actually begood for the relationship between Maori and Pakeha, just as we also absolutely reject their preposterous claim that“the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles" willharm race relations in Aotearoa.

BUT, Mr Speaker,BUT, and I repeat again Mr Speaker,BUT that’s not nearly as ludicrous, nor as preposterous, nor as farcical, nor as downright perfidious, as Labour’s Maori MPs going along with this legislative foolishness!

Mr Speaker, Labour’s Maori MPsvoting to delete the "Treaty of Waitangi and its principles" from legislation, is as dumb as turkeys voting for an early Christmas, or Helen Clark calling for a snap election!!

But vote for it they did, and not just a couple of them either, but the whole lot of them -Parekura Horomia, Nanaia Mahuta, Mahara Okeroa, Mita Ririnui, Dover Samuels, Dave Hereora, and Shane Jones, !!!!

I mean, just who on earth do they think is going to support them after theyvoted to delete the “Treaty of Waitangi and its principles” from legislation?

Can Labour’s party politics be so dictatorial, and can Labours Maori MPs have been rendered so voiceless, so powerless, so helpless, so toothless and so incapable, that they would willingly sacrifice their very Maori-ness byvoting to delete the “Treaty of Waitangi and it’s principles” from legislation?

For heaven’s sake - this country is actually founded on the Treaty of Waitangi! and dare I say itagain, this very Prime Minister herself even went so far as to contradict her own vote on this Bill, when she called the Treaty of Waitangi, the foundation document of this nation.

Mr Speaker, it’s not theprinciples that have caused harm – it’s theprinciples that have not been honoured, that have caused the real harm.

Ngai Tahu Maori Law Centre in fact, spoke to this very point, when they said:“If passed, this bill will do unspeakable harm to the race relations of New Zealand Aotearoa.”

And in that light, it is very clear to see exactly what the mightyMaori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples meant, when he said that the recent terrorist raids into Ruatoki had“set race relations in this country, back a hundred years.”

And in the same way that we condemn this damnable piece of legislation to the refuse heap, so too do we condemn in the strongest possible terms, the recent actions of the Labour government against the Tuhoe nation, the Ruatoki community in particular, and tangata whenua in general.

The Waitangi Tribunal says that acting reasonably, honourably and in good faith, actually requires both Treaty partners to acknowledge each others respective interests, authority and values.

Yet whatTe Runanga o Ngati Apa told us was that the“removal of the principles would signal a continuing erosion of the already fractured relationship between Maori and the Crown”, and they described this type of behaviour as not befitting a partnership, but rather demonstrating the arrogance of a domineering partner.

Ngati Apa also reminded us of the words of the greatTahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, when, through Ratana MP Eruera Tirikatene, he placed before parliament a petition, calling for the Treaty to be enshrined in ALL legislation – a call that Ngati Apa told us, has been virtually ignored.

TheNew Zealand Chinese Association said that this Bill was nothing more than an attempt at the“denial, erasure or the forced forgetting of New Zealand’s history” - when what we all need is to remember and acknowledge our history, our accountability, reconciliation and healing.

And you couldn’t help but notice, that while we were hearing submissions on this Bill, theUN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was notingwith concern, the proposal to remove statutory references to the Treaty of Waitangithrough this veryBill.

That UN Committee was of course, called in to respond to the Foreshore and Seabed Act; an Act which was frequently and consistently referred to throughout select committee hearings, as representing the ultimate breach of the Treaty.

Te Runanga o te Rarawa however, came at it from another angle altogether, when they suggested, that if NZ First’s argument that putting in the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi were made“not at the request of Maori, but by paternalistic and interfering Ministers”, then on principle, NZ First should also support striking outother legislation like the Foreshore and Seabed Act, made“not at the request of Maori, but by paternalistic and interfering Ministers”.

But did they do that? Oh no, no no … the stated aim of their Bill, of this Bill, is to eliminate all references to“the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles” not to help Maori at all.

This Bill, this callous attempt to wipe out all references to“the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles” from legislation, confirms the intention of this government, and its partners, to minimise the Treaty, to marginaliseMāori, and to reduce Treaty rights to a nullity.

The Maori Party will never accept the arguments of those parties, and Labour’s Maori MPs in particular, who voted to destroy the Treaty.

The Maori Party stands by its commitment to the principles of partnership, active protection, and the duty to act reasonably, honourably and in good faith.

The Maori Party stands by its commitment to“defending Maori rights and advancing Maori interests, for the benefit of the whole nation”

And the Maori Party invites all other parties to enter into discussions as to how we might make the Treaty the basis of a positive future together, rather than the rock on which our uncertain alliance will forever founder.

The Maori Party opposes this Bill, with every fibre of its being.

Tena koe, a, tena tätou katoa.


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