Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Separatist justice?

Some belated thoughts here on the 'trial balloon' floated recently on a separate justice system for Maori.

Oddly, it's not the proposal for a separatist judicial system that has attracted opprobrium, but the response by Don Brash in the Herald on Sunday that there were "few, if any" full-blooded Maori left.
There are clearly many New Zealanders who do see themselves as distinctly and distinctively Maori but it is also clear there are few, if any, fully Maori left here. There has been a lot of intermarriage and that has been welcome.
All the usual suspects have been invited to be up in arms today, but not as far as I can see at Judge Baragwanath for proposing what amounts to a slippery slope to apartheid [PDF], but instead at Brash's unwise comments that the judge continued to talk "as if the Maori remain a distinct indigenous people."

For my own part, if asked, I would have simply said that good law is colour blind, and I am just as opposed to racist Pakeha as I am to racist Maori.

That the colour of the blood in a person's vein should be of no relevance to any politician, nor to any court, nor in fact to any one at all. We need to begin seeing people as individuals, not as representatives of their race, their tribe, their ancestors or their bloodline.

That how much blood of whatever type anyone has running through their veins is of far less importance than the ideas that are in their heads. It is the ideas in their head and the choices they make based on them that a person should be judged, not on what their ancestors might or might not have done.

That the choices that people make are a more important determining factor in the need for a justice system than whatever their whakapapa might say about them -- the need for a single and objective justice system must override whatever politically-correct nonsense is momentarily fashionable, and it most certainly overrides the purported need for a separate, racially based justice system, which can only be seen as a slippery slope towards apartheid.

That ideas and choices are what move history and what make us human, not superstitions, "blood quantum" and ancestor-worship.

That's what I would have said if asked.

UPDATE: Link to Baragwanath's paper added, courtesy of Idiot/Savant.

LINK: Few if any full Maori left comment horrifies - Stuff/NZPA
What is distinctive about New Zealand law and the New Zealand way of doing law? New Zealand law and Maori [PDF] - Justice Baragwanath, Address to Law Commission

RELATED: Racism, Maoritanga, Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Law


  1. I am a bit concerned that the media are trying to play the race card, and make it look like Don Brash started it. They are asking all the wrong questions and going off on bizarre tangents. Ah well, all the stuff that makes it to TV is what they wanted you to see anyway ....

  2. Why on earth would any honest person be "horrified" at Don Brash's remarks? Either they are accurate--or not. Nothing else matters.
    Maori activists and radical Muslims have this in common: both seek to shut down meaningful debate about their respective ideologies, both use the "racist" label to bully anyone who expresses misgivings about or disagreement with their agendas.

    Either the law must be colourblind or we must accept apartheid. I see no middle way.

  3. In the New Zealand Herald, "National Urban Maori Authority chairman Willie Jackson labelled Dr Brash's comments silly. He said whakapapa was what determined being Maori, the ability to link genealogically to a Maori ancestor." Jackson is 100% right on both counts.

  4. Hell, I can "link genealogically" to a Roman ancestor. So what? Does that make me a Roman?
    And if I chose to call myself a Roman, no harm done--unless, living in NZ society I demanded special treatment under the law on the basis of my "Roman-ness".

  5. KG said,
    Hell, I can "link genealogically" to a Roman ancestor. So what? Does that make me a Roman?
    Yes, it does. And it makes us all African, according to current theories of the origin of the species.
    And if I chose to call myself a Roman, no harm done--unless, living in NZ society I demanded special treatment under the law on the basis of my "Roman-ness".
    If you consider yourself a Kiwi, you should "give it a go". :-)

  6. Heh! I'll bear your suggestion in mind Richard if pizzas ever become the subject of culture warfare. :o)

  7. Have any of you actually read Baragwanath's paper? He wasn't advocating a seperate justice system at all; instead, he looked at how the law had treated Maori differently in the past in an effort to disadvantage them, and how it did the same in the present (e.g. the Foreshore & Seabed Act). But his proposed solution was not seperate justice, but rather stronger and entrenched human rights protections to ensure that the law could not be used as a weapon against Maori - in other words, equal justice under the law.

    Further thoughts and information here.

  8. I followed the link, idiot/savant and with apologies to our host for hogging space:
    "The decision could not have been reached under English law where article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects even foreign suspected terrorists from discrimination and gives the courts power to strike down inconsistent legislation..."
    To quote that as "English law" is a bit rich. English people were (and are) given no choice whatsoever in the matter of which EU laws they are subject to.
    "All New Zealanders, and not least Maori New Zealanders, are entitled to the protection of laws that meet international standards"
    What "international standards" are these? the standards of a corrupt U.N. or the equally corrupt and un-democratic EU?
    "As for his conclusions, Justice Baragwanath does not suggest any "special rights" for Maori. Rather, he proposes amending the Foreshore and Seabed Act so that it conforms to those settled conventions, by (at minimum) allowing compensation to be awarded where ownership can be proven. We accept this principle with regards to Pakeha property"
    No we don't.
    "And more generally, he argues that we need to
    enact a measure equivalent to the European Convention on Human Rights to ensure that the words of our international obligations can be delivered on"
    "Obligations" we were never consulted about.
    The original Baragwanath paper and the blog post you link to are no more than the usual subtle leftist distortions and false assumptions.

  9. Judging people on what runs through their minds rather than what runs through their veins? Now that is a radical concept. As such it has no place in modern NZ.

  10. I/S: '.. his solution was not separate justice ..'

    I should bloody well hope not!

    I/S: ' .. but rather stronger and entrenched human rights protections ..'

    All talk regarding human rights, Maori rights, female rights, etc, becomes superfluous when a nation's law fully and properly respects *individual* rights - as per libertarian policy.

  11. KG: The decision was not made in the European Court of Human Rights under the ECHR, but by an English court applying the British Human Rights Act. This made parts of the ECHR (including the discrimination clause) justicible in British law, and was passed by the elected British Parliament. What else would you call it other than "English law"?

    As for international standards, they're not an external imposition; our democratically elected government has voluntaarily accepted them (and written them, in some cases). And they are ideals we as a society are committed to - things like not torturing or killing people, freedom of speech, free and fair elections, the presumption of innocence, natural justice and proper rights of due process (our BORA is based heavily on the UN ICCPR).

    Sus: All talk regarding human rights, Maori rights, female rights, etc, becomes superfluous when a nation's law fully and properly respects *individual* rights

    And that is exactly what Baragwanath is suggesting (though,like most people, he takes a different slant on it to the one Libertarians take. But you can argue about that with him).

  12. "What else would you call it other than "English law"?

    "An Act to give further effect to rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights; to make provision with respect to holders of certain judicial offices who become judges of the European Court of Human Rights; and for connected purposes."

    The Human Rights Act 1998 is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament which received Royal Assent on November 9, 1998, and came into force on October 2, 2000. Its aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Act makes available in UK courts a remedy for breach of a Convention right, without the need to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
    In particular, the Act makes it unlawful for any public body to act in a way which is incompatible with the Convention, unless the wording of an Act of Parliament means they have no other choice. It also requires UK judges take account of decisions of the Strasbourg court, and to interpret legislation, as far as possible, in a way which is compatible with the Convention. However, if it is not possible to interpret an Act of Parliament so as to make it compatible with the Convention, the judges are not allowed to override it"

    I'd call it the Blair government rubberstamping laws made by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.


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