It was good to see from last week’s announcement that even in the process of setting up a decidedly un-super local government for Auckland last last week, there were at least no racist seats on the menu.
Thank goodness for small blessings. Seats based on skin colour would enshrine separatism, tribalism and race-based favouritism and would be, as David Round points out, a precursor to the inevitable Balkanisation of New Zealand.
You can still hear the bleating of the Apartheid Party and their more unthinking supporters however, who are still bleating that to fail to provide racist seats is itself racist. Irony itself is too ironic for these people.
The Apartheid Party makes three points in its rearguard protest in favour of racial favouritism:
- Race-based seats were “a specific recommendation of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.”
- Race-based seats would be “consistent with current provisions in the Local Government Act 2002.”
- Race-based seats would “uphold the partnership relationship established between Maori and the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi, including the partnership established with the mana whenua of the Auckland region.”
As Muriel Newman points out, none of the three points lasts a minute under scrutiny. First, The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was set up by Labour, long-time friends of race-based law, to effect the Auckland super state along with the race-based seats it so favoured. Just because Rodney Hide and John Key are delivering the amalgamated uber-council that Labour wanted, that places no onus on them to make that uber-council a racist one.
Second, if race-based seats would indeed be “consistent with current provisions in [Sandra Lee’s] Local Government Act 2002,” then this just gives one more reason why Sandra Lee’s law should be struck down. Sandra Lee gave councils the “power of general competence” – a power they’ve used to dabble in things they can’t do, and their ratepayers can’t afford. A power Auckland’s new council megalith will wield. If she also gave the power to deliver race-based seats, then this only makes the repeal of her Local Government Act more urgent, and more necessary.
And third, where exactly is this “partnership” established in the Treaty of Waitangi – except in the imaginations of those who support it? As Michael Basset says,
“Constant repetition of assertions that Maori have a Treaty of Waitangi right to dedicated seats on the new Auckland Council doesn’t make them correct. It is clear that neither Tuku Morgan nor Len Brown, nor most of the other advocates of separate representation, has read the Treaty.”
Neither the word nor the concept appears in the Treaty’s three spare clauses -- under Article One, the chiefs of New Zealand ceded their sovereignty to Queen Victoria; Article Two created private property rights; and Article Three conferred on Maori the rights and privileges of British subjects, making all New Zealanders equal under the law. There was nothing in there about “partnership” between state and tribes, and as Muriel Newman notes,
If such a special relationship just applied to Maori, then the Courts would have been responsible for elevating Maori to the status of a ruling class superior to all other citizens. By definition, all other non-Maori New Zealanders would therefore have been relegated to an inferior status as second class citizens. Since that is clearly not the case, any talk of Maori having special partnership status with the Crown is just wishful thinking by Maori separatists.
I have to agree. Talk about the difficulties of Maori councillors being elected onto council is both irrelevant and (according to historian Michael Bassett) questionable. I hesitate to use the word “merit” about the sort of self-serving scum who usually end up sitting on council and kicking us around, but if you can’t persuade a truckload of people to vote for you based on your character rather than just the colour of your skin, then I’d suggest it’s not a megaphone you should be using when you call others racist, but a mirror.