Friday, 2 July 2021

What is 'He Puapua'? [updated]


He Puapua is a report commissioned by the Ardern Government to carry out The Key Government's commitments after signing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a "legally non-binding resolution passed by the UN in 2007" without New Zealand's vote -- which was withheld by the Clark Government. Among other rights and pseudo-rights asserted in the Declaration are said to be "the indigenous peoples' right to [their] own type of governance." That is almost specifically the aim of the He Puapua report, which 
sets out a timeline for ... transformational constitutional change which will divide the polity into "'hree streams: the Rangiratanga stream (for Maori), the Kawanatanga stream (for the Crown) and the Rite Tahi stream (for all New Zealanders).'
In the words of Elizabeth Rata, the report's commissioning and conclusions make it "clear [that] New Zealanders are at a crossroads." 
We will have to decide whether we want our future to be that of an ethno-nationalist state or a democratic-nationalist one.
The report itself makes its own aim abundantly clear: it "describes our future as an ethno-nation."

Delivered to the Ardern Government last year, and only released because it was leaked to the Opposition, the words "He Puapua" themselves translate as "a break," or "a separation."
While it’s usually used in reference to the ocean and a break in waves, in this case the expression centres on a 'breaking of the usual political and societal norms and approaches.’
Such a sundering is not a trivial thing. It brings to mind another famous Declaration, which recognised that "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Neither decency nor respect has impelled any such declaration in this case. Instead, as Rata says in an excellent take-down of the report:
Displaying an astonishing confidence, the authors claim that 'We consider Aotearoa has reached a maturity where it is ready to undertake the transformation to restructure governance to realise rangatiratanga Maori (self-determination).' I hope [says Rata] that this 'maturity' can accommodate the vigorous debate that is certainly needed if we are to abandon democracy - for what exactly? While each sentence of the Report deserves scrutiny I will confine myself to two points. The main one is the Report's premise of the political category as an ethnic one. The second concerns judicial activism in constitutional change.
    He Puapua envisages a system of constitutional categorisation based on ancestral membership criteria rather than the universal human who is democracy's foundational unit. Ancestral group membership is the key idea of 'ethnicity'.... The word entered common usage from the 1970s followed by 'indigenous' in the 1980s. 'Ethnicity' was an attempt to edit out the increasingly discredited 'race'. However changing a word does not change the idea. 

The report, in total, and the separate future it demands, is race-based. Explicitly. 

"When we politicise ethnicity by classifying, categorising and institutionalising people on the basis of ethnicity," warns Rata, "we establish the platform for ethno-nationalism. Contemporary and historical examples should make us very wary of a path that replaces the individual citizen with the ethnic person as the political subject." No such worries appear to occupy the report's authors.

"Interestingly," she continues, "those examples show the role of small well-educated elites in pushing through radical change." The report's authors are exactly as described. And as well-educated, well-heeled, and well-connected "culturalist intellectuals," their bios reveal them to be virtually all of one mind:

  • Claire Charters, "(Ngāti Whakaue, Tainui, Ngāpuhi, Tūwharetoa) [and the Report's chair] gained her LLM from NYU in the US, and her PhD from Cambridge University. She is an associate professor at Auckland Law School, University of Auckland, and Director of the Aotearoa Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law. She has been an advisor to the UN President of the General Assembly on Indigenous Peoples’ participation at the UN (2016 – 2017); chair of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Trustee (2014 -2020); chair of the cabinet-appointed working group to provide advice on the realisation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2019-2020); co-chair of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission Kaiwhakatara Advisory Group on human rights, Te Tiriti rights, and Covid-19; and worked on the negotiations for the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1998 – 2007)."
  • Canadian Kayla Kingdon-Bebb is "the current Director of Policy at Te Papa Atawhai / Department of Conservation. Previously she served for three years as Principal Advisor (and earlier, Private Secretary) to two successive Ministers of Conservation. Kayla has extensive experience in the machinery of government, and has led programmes of cross-agency and collaborative work on policy issues relevant to indigenous rights and interests... Kayla has a PhD and MPhil from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral and master’s theses focused on Treaty law, indigenous customary law and legal pluralism in the context of natural resource management."
  • Tamati Olsen is the "Chief Advisor Maori at Housing New Zealand Corporation" and "Director (Acting), Wellbeing, Policy Partnerships. Te Puni Kōkiri – New Zealand Ministry of Māori Development" formerly "Manager Cultural Wealth" at Te Puni Kōkiri"
  • The 26-year-old Waimirirangi Ormsby "is project manager at Ka Awatea Services Ltd, developing Ka Awatea strategic vision document base on Mātauranga Māori principles." "Of Waikato, Ngātiwai and Te Arawa descent, [she] has foraged deep into her whakapapa to help environmental sustainability resonate more with her people. But for her the key is to live it herself every single day.... Together with her husband she created Pipiri Ki A Papatūānuku or PKP, which encourages a month of passive environmental action every year. People agree to a period of minimising their waste, tūkino free eating where they try to avoid industrially-farmed produce, begin composting or recycling and minimising plastic waste, or anything else they feel they can commit to.... Longer term, she has much grander ambitions for the recognition of traditional ways. “Te pae tawhiti, my vision for the future is, to be honest, one or two generations from now to have indigenous people leading the way and having indigenous knowledge systems be implemented into constitution, into law and policy, into the way that we live our lives, for everybody.” 
  • Previously at the Office of Treaty Settlements, Emily Owen is "General Manager Policy, Department of Corrections NZ. She holds a Masters in History from Massey University."
  • "Passionate about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights," Judith Pryor holds "a PhD in Critical and Cultural Theory from Cardiff University in the UK (2005)." Her "doctoral research in constitutions - examining law, history, policy and practice from a theoretical perspective - was published in 2008 as Constitutions: Writing Nations, Reading Difference." "Since returning to Aotearoa in 2006 from the UK, I have predominantly worked in Te Tiriti or human rights-related areas, including at Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, the Human Rights Commission; the Waitangi Tribunal, and the former Office of Treaty Settlements." She "can advise and support you and your agency to develop a capability plan as now required under the Public Service Act 2020. I can also devise a training programme for you, and can deliver Te Tiriti analysis training. Drawing on my previous experience in Policy, my workshop is particularly aimed at policy practitioners, and can be adapted for other audiences. The training covers:​ What the role of the Crown is in the Te Tiriti relationship; Why Te Tiriti analysis is critical for developing sound policy; How to embed Te Tiriti at each stage of the policy process (including engagement); How to practically work through a policy problem using a Te Tiriti framework."
  • Jacinta Ruru "is co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga [New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence], and Professor of Law at the University of Otago." Her "research interests focus on exploring Indigenous peoples' legal rights to own, manage and govern land and water. Jacinta's PhD thesis (University of Victoria, Canada, 2012) is titled "Settling Indigenous Place: Reconciling Legal Fictions in Governing Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand's National Parks."
  • Naomi Solomon has an LLB from VUW. She is Ngati Toa's "General Manager, Treaty and Strategic Relationships."
  • Gary Williams is a "Disability Sector Leader ... [whose] particular interests are issues for disabled people and especially disabled Maori, leadership development and training, the rights of disabled people and effective organisational governance and management. [Formerly] CEO of DPA [Disabled Persons Assembly], he has extensive sector networks, both nationally and internationally, and networks within government agencies."
Rata herself is explicit that what begins in ethno-nationalism often ends in bloodshed. "In Rwanda the ethnic doctrine 'the Mahutu Manifesto' of 1953 was written and promulgated by eleven highly educated individuals identifying politically as Hutu. The raw material of the ethnic ideologies that fuelled the violence in Bosnia and Serbia was supplied by intellectuals. Pol Pot began his killing campaigns immediately on his return from study in Paris." In all these cases, the bad philosophy preceded the horrific outcome. In Rata's 2006 speech to the NZ Skeptics she said: 
In New Zealand we are obviously not far down the track towards ethno-nationalism. However we need to recognise that the ideas which fuel ethnic politics are well-established and naturalised in this country and that the politicisation of ethnicity is underway". Fifteen years later the He Puapua Report shows the progress towards ethno-nationalism. Why has this racial ideology become so accepted in a nation which prides itself on identifying and rejecting racism?
The answer, of course, is what the report's authors call their philosophies. PhDs in subjects like Critical and Cultural Theory* have a real-world impact that appear in documents such as these. As Rata concludes:
'He Puapua' means a break. It is used in the Report to mean 'the breaking of the usual political and social norms and approaches.' The transformation of New Zealand proposed by He Puapua is indeed a complete break with the past. For this reason it is imperative that we all read the Report then freely and openly discuss what type of nation do we want - ethno-nationalism or democratic nationalism?

* * * * * 

Quick reminder that Critical Race Theory and the like are not merely “Let’s teach the bad parts of history too” -- it's more like "Let's teach that history is all bad. And racist." Richard Delgado, for example, founder of the critical race theory school of legal scholarship, noted for his 'scholarship' on hate speech, and for introducing storytelling into legal scholarship baldly asserts:

Unlike traditional civil rights [e.g., Martin Luther King’s approach], which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.

Also, Critical, Cultural Theory etc, its not a theory
"The critical race theory (CRT) movement [says Delgado in Movement, Activists, Transform, Power] is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power."

So it's a "theory" only in the same sense that AntiFa is an idea.

Don't say you haven't been told. 

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks, Peter Renzland]


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