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‘Driving a wedge on basis of race’

Opinion Piece

Some things are plain. Under our current system, good candidates for council get elected. Poor candidates do not. If you are broadly supported and respected by the community, you get elected. If the community thinks you're hopeless, you don't. Trying to muck around with that system in order to tilt the scales in favour of your own racial politics, hmm, a very dangerous game.

I wouldn't mind so much except that I'm an ex-educator, so it irks me to see ill-taught youngsters demonstrating no ability to think, merely parroting mindless slogans like “equity”, unable to see the ramifications of their notions.

So, answer me this. If we are to have wards for Maori exclusively, presumably the other wards are for Pakeha exclusively. Is that correct? Pakeha in the broadest sense, of course, including Chinese, Indians, Pasifika, Whites, etc.

No? That's not what you mean? You have some simple-minded idea that it will be like Parliament, Maori seats and general seats? But if you divide local elections into a Maori/Pakeha split then I will cheerfully predict no Maori candidate will ever be successful again in a general seat in Gisborne. However well-intentioned your intervention, you will successfully drive a wedge between people on the basis of race.

Now, presuming you don't want exclusive Pakeha wards, answer me another question. What happens if, as in the last election, Meredith wants to stand for both the mayoralty and a council seat? Can she stand for council in a Maori ward and for the mayoralty in a general election? Or would she have to stand for council in a general ward? More to the point, what about Josh, who is an outstanding councillor and hopefully future Mayor?

Ah, of course, the mayoral election would be separate and available to people on either roll. But I say to you again, the minute you create this divide you handicap future Maori mayoral candidates. If they stand for council in a Maori ward they are announcing that they are not part of the broader community. And if they stand for council in a general ward they will be struggling to get votes.

Some people may think the voting community is “bigger” than to let this affect their votes. Yup, currently the voting public of Gisborne is pretty much colour-blind. But once you ram it in their faces they won't be.

Of course it is entirely possible that Aimee, and our dear Editor, know more about what makes voters tick than I do. Um, no, they don't.

The general goodwill of the community is what makes democracy viable as a system of governance. Lose that goodwill by shoving pious “woke” ideas down everybody's throat and you endanger everything. If history, or an elementary understanding of human nature can't teach you that, just look across the seas to America.

See also today's editorial

  1. Aimee says:

    I didn’t realise equity was a slogan, Craig. Is it a slogan because you say it’s a slogan?

    1. Kevin Thompson says:

      Aimee, I don’t think you scored any points with that reply. It rather smacks of 13yr old schoolgirl’s response heard in the playground after school. How about you define equity for us.

  2. Lara says:

    Kia Ora Craig,
    Please clarify why exactly you think that the concept of equity and those of us who champion equity must therefore be poorly taught?
    I will infer from your comment ‘I wouldn’t mind so much except that I’m an ex-educator, so it irks me to see ill-taught youngsters demonstrating no ability to think, merely parroting mindless slogans like “equity”, unable to see the ramifications of their notions’ that you have me, Lara Meyer in mind?
    Well I am a current educator, albeit not working with the youngsters so much these days, but with their teachers, both here and (pre covid) in Australia and elsewhere. As an aside, and to provide some defence of my understanding of the term equity, I hold a Masters qualification in Education so I guess that means I am not completely uneducated. I don’t think I am ‘pious’ but I surely am ‘woke’, and proud to be. Being ‘woke’ about ensuring Maori get an equitable suck of the sauce bottle is much better than being fearful of equity.
    Please re read the cheat sheet I added to the commentary initiated by Clive Bibby, it might help you get your head around why Maori Wards are a good idea and help you come to terms with the fact that the sky will not fall when Maori Wards are a reality.
    You of all people, as a former principal, should know that Maori will benefit from equitable representation. What benefits everyone does not necessarily benefit Maori but what helps Maori benefits us all.
    Don’t take my word for it, do some research, you will find I am correct in that assertion.

    1. K Thompson says:

      Lara, you claim to be an educator, in my experience that doesn’t automatically qualify you as an expert, just another agitated person with a view albeit skewed to one side. You too should re-read the definition of equity and democracy.
      So please correct me if I have this wrong. When we have Local Body elections for our community representatives, of the 14, 9 will be voted for by the majority of the people of all races and beliefs. 5 will be voted for by just Maori. I assume that means one Maori candidate is elected from each ward and will go through to become a Councillor, regardless of how many people vote for them. Is it not possible then that a Ward candidate could become a Councillor with many fewer votes than a candidate that failed to get a place in the general roll. Please explain if you will, how that is democratic.

      1. Lara says:

        Hi K Thompson,
        Why don’t you read the editorial in today’s paper. That might help you understand. As I have said before, I am still learning too. I do know that it is a no-brainer to have Maori Wards though because they will help address past wrongs and close gaps.
        By the way, I doubt I am an expert in anything. In fact, the older I get the more I realise the less I know. I am a proponent of social justice, especially of racial, cultural and economic justice.

  3. Ken Ovenden says:

    Hi Craig, well written, great to read. However notice that you have already attracted two of the very people that you write about, those trying to shove their pious “woke’ ideas down the throats of anyone who challenges their opinion. If the cheat sheet is the same as the one that was tried on me do not bother reading as it is simply propaganda. Some of the people pushing their race-based politics are not even Maori -in Europe and America this is called “blackfishing”. Is this the form of politics that we need in NZ? I hope not.

    1. Aimee says:

      Firstly, Ken, thanks for the lols. The definition of ‘blackfishing’ according to the Urban Dictionary, “commonly perpetrated by females of European descent (white) which involves artificial tanning (spray tanning and tanning booths) and using makeup to manipulate facial features in order to appear to have some type of Black African ancestry.”

      Ken, the name of our FB group is ‘Pakeha Support for Maori wards’, so no, we’re not Maori, we’re not speaking for Maori (Maori speak for themselves) and we’re not spending hundreds on spray tans to try to trick you into thinking we’re Maori. ??

      Because I’m Pakeha…does that mean I’m not allowed to have empathy for Maori?

      We are merely supporting our Treaty partners and community. I know you’ll find this hard to believe Ken, but we hear what Maori are saying (needing) and we actually care that they get fair and equitable representation.

  4. Craig says:

    Actually yes, equity in the sense that you use it is a slogan. The suggestion is that in order to achieve equality of outcomes some people need more support. That is undeniably true. You, for example, would need quite a lot of extra support in order to match Einstein’s achievements. And your average garden sow would struggle to gain a Master’s degree without special help. And for that vast under-represented group – under-fifteen year olds – I despair of them getting equitable representation on Council.
    But you don’t care, do you? You view equity as purely a racial thing.
    It would offend you if I labelled that what it clearly is, so I will merely say that is a political judgement, not based in reality.

    1. Lara says:

      Hi Craig,
      No of course equity is not a purely racial thing. What makes you think so?
      But in this instance, we are talking about equity of representation on council for Maori. You of all people ought to know that now Maori are being compensated for the land confiscations of the recent past, we must ensure that they also have every opportunity to engage in decision-making about their land because it is a considerable asset and that asset base will be growing.
      The issues affecting Maori 15 year olds in our mainstream schools is another matter. Educators I know here are working hard to address disparities and inequities for Maori children.
      As an aside, did you insinuate that we women who are challenging you in this space are pigs? Why the reference to a garden sow?

  5. Craig says:

    Thank you Ken. I disagree with Josh and Meredith, and all the other councillors on this question. But they are still fine and thoughtful people and in a democracy we’re allowed to disagree on particular issues. No doubt they think I am a dopey old man. That’s all right, I think they haven’t reached full maturity of critical thinking and in a few years they will come to understand more about themselves and about the world.
    (But then I always was kind of an arrogant s.o.b!)

    1. Ken Ovenden says:

      Thanks Craig, you would make a fine “Griso” {from Italian folk lore] and that is complimentary. The two questions that I would like to put to you are, being an ex-councillor how much of a “kick in the guts” do you consider it to be that separate race-based wards are being demanded as if current councillors are not doing their jobs, not trusted to be representing all rate-payers equally enough, and not consulting with all effected parties enough. Also, just how much influence do you think radical racialist activists have had on councillors, placing undue pressure on them to not be considered “racist” and the “tag” that would place on them. Love to read your considerations, thanks.

  6. Neil Henderson says:

    Well written Craig.

    This stuff about Treaty Partnership is a modern concept introduced by the likes of the author of the cheat sheet. A reading of the comments made by those signing the Treaty reveal they well understood they were ceding sovereignty and becoming British subjects along with every other person in NZ. There is not talk of partnership anywhere.

    No one has made the obvious deduction from the fact that those claiming to be Maori make up over half the population of this region. This means they have the power right now to elect a council where every councilor is a Maori.

    This brings me to what is the definition of who is Maori? I can find nothing on the Electoral Commission website that defines a minimum amount of ancestry. I therefore presume that someone who has only one great great grandparent who is a Maori can call themselves a Maori. Thus they disown the ancestry of their other 15 ancestors and class themselves as different to their cuzzy bros from 14 of those ancestors. I find this simply ridiculous.

    Rather than adding Maori wards to councils we should be removing the Maori seats from parliament, as has been recommended in the past, most recently when the MMP system was brought in. The current Labour caucus in parliament has more Maori than their portion of the population.. Even allowing for the members of the Maori seats it is still right up there. Both Labour and National fielded a Maori candidate in the East Coast seat. Establishing Maori wards is demonstrably not necessary and is a step backwards.

    Yes, surprisingly council was unanimous. Or was it a surprise? This is a very emotive issue as the dialogue here is revealing. If a councilor had voted against the proposal they would likely be branded racist and being in a high profile position it would be glaringly obvious and hard to remove. Better to vote yes and leave it to the public to initiate the inevitable referendum and resolve the issue that way

    1. Lara says:

      The bigotry of your commentary, so clearly expressed, comes as quite a shock!
      Despite years of effort in Aotearoa NZ by people of different cultures to educate and improve race relations and understandings between and of each other, your comments show how far we have to go.
      Your comments also serve to further highlight the imperative for greater and more specific Maori representation on councils and boards, rather than less.
      Ken, can you please explain why the information provided by Dr Anne Te One is propaganda but the information you espouse and that of Hobsons Pledge is somehow not propaganda?
      The definition of propaganda is something along the lines of;
      ‘information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.’ There is nothing I can see in the information on the cheat sheet that seeks to mislead. It is not hyperbolic or exaggerated at all, it provides reasonable answers to reasonable questions.

      1. Ken Ovenden says:

        Hi Lara, for the record I have never espoused any information, opinion, whatever from that Hobson’s whatever . . . and no I have not signed any document of any type from them, and never will. I do support the theory of one NZ, everyone united, all the same, so the thought of apartheid/racist-based local politics is despised. Thanks for your enquiry and have a great New Year.

      2. Grace, Otautahi says:

        Well said Aimee and Lara.
        You both have more Mana than these privileged racists could ever aspire to have.
        Nga mihi nui

        1. Ken Ovenden says:

          Hi Grace, thank you for your wonderous, thoughtful comments but does it really give you a feeling of great “mana” to sling your “tutae” from Christchurch to Gizzy, really?

          1. Lara says:

            Kia Ora Grace and Ken,
            My apologies to you Grace for Ken’s childish and rude reply to your acknowledgment of Aimee and I. We are not all boorish and racist here on the coast.
            Ken. When you say you want to see One NZ do you mean like the One Australia party set up by the odious Pauline Hansen? If so, I doubt anyone with a moral compass would agree with you.

          2. Ken Ovenden says:

            Hi Lara, do you really find it okay for a person from another city to troll the internet, find a subject on a newspaper letter to the editor site and then make racist remarks to entertain themselves, really? Now that is what you could call childish, unless of course they were set up from that other town or city just to cause friction. With regard to political parties, I do not support any at all – read what I wrote, all I said was I support the “theory” of a one NZ system. Please read Peter’s theory in this column, you may find it fits.

          3. Aimee says:

            Ken. Why wouldn’t Grace be interested in an issue which has an effect on all of Aotearoa? Here in Tairawhiti we have an opportunity to make good, to bring people together. Maori wards are a step closer to unity. To be honest I’m embarrassed by your attitude. Arohamai Grace, I’m glad you can see we’re not all like Ken, and these local decisions will impact the whole country.

          4. Tony Lee says:

            Hey there Ken, are you talking about Hobson’s Pledge or Grace from Otautahi? Just checking.

  7. Peter Jones says:

    How many supposedly educated people with degrees are absolutely clueless about what’s actually happening around them, and would more than happily march off a cliff if the government or the media told them to?

    1. Lara says:

      In the words of our own Scribe…
      Not many, if any.

    2. Tony Lee says:

      Hiya Peter. Just so I can appreciate the depth of ignorance that my education has afforded me, could you list the most important things I don’t have a clue about. Wait though, if it’s helpful, I’ll list here some of the things that I don’t understand and you could maybe agree or disagree with each and maybe explain. Please feel free to support my understanding by adding to the list:

      1. Covid-19 is being used in a plan for social control by communists
      2. The Chinese and UN are behind the Covid-19 plan for world control.
      3. Vaccines (one or more): poison, implant mind control devices, allow big Pharma to make money so they create disease
      4. There is a new world order driven by globalisation and communism
      5. Bill Gates and George Soros are behind many of the attacks on freedom
      6. Other examples of the communist, global attack on freedom are (one or more): GMOs, 5G, Chemtrails
      7. The earth is flat
      8. Science is not to be trusted
      9. 9/11 – the twin towers were brought down by explosives
      10. The Clintons and Democratic party hierarchy are a front for a paedophile ring headquartered at a pizza shop.

      In advance, I’m grateful to you for completing my education about what is “happening around” me.

      1. Martin Hanson says:

        Do you know how many towers collapsed on 9/11?

  8. Vic Alborn, Kapiti Coast says:

    Equity cannot be mandated. Equal opportunity can and is provided under the existing non-racial, one person-one vote local government system. Anything else is racist. There is no mention of “partnership” or “principles” in the Treaty.

    1. Tony Lee says:

      It is important to consider some factual information concerning the ‘principles’ and ‘partnership’ notions raised by Vic Alborn. By the way, it is great that folks from all around Aotearoa are entering into this discussion. Starting with a statement from NZHistory.govt.nz that endorses the notion that the intention, spirit and principles of te Tiriti are now well founded. It also states that the Waitangi Tribunal has exclusive right to determine the meaning of te Tiriti.

      “It is common now to refer to the intention, spirit or principles of the Treaty. The Treaty of Waitangi is not considered part of New Zealand domestic law, except where its principles are referred to in Acts of Parliament. The exclusive right to determine the meaning of the Treaty rests with the Waitangi Tribunal, a commission of inquiry created in 1975 to investigate alleged breaches of the Treaty by the Crown.”

      The Tribunal talks about the principles by stating “Treaty principles are therefore informed by various sources, including the literal terms of both texts, the cultural meanings of words, the influences and events which gave rise to the Treaty, as far as these can be determined from historical sources, as well as contemporary explanations and legal interpretations. These principles interpret the Treaty as a whole, including its underlying meaning, intention and spirit, to provide further understanding of the expectations of signatories.”

      “In the view of the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal, Treaty principles are not set in stone. They are constantly evolving as the Treaty is applied to particular issues and new situations. Neither the Courts nor the Waitangi Tribunal have produced a definitive list of Treaty principles. As President Cooke has said: “The Treaty obligations are ongoing. They will evolve from generation to generation as conditions change.”

      The Tribunal goes on to discuss the central principle of partnership by stating that “the principle of partnership is well-established in Treaty jurisprudence”. Both the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal frequently refer to the concept of partnership to describe the relationship between the Crown and Mäori. Partnership can be usefully regarded as an overarching tenet, from which other key principles have been derived. While there appears to be substantial concurrence in the views of the Courts and Tribunal on the issue of partnership, the two bodies have sometimes differed in the language they use to give substance to the principle.

      So it is clear that both partnership and principles are basic ideas that flow from te Tiriti and are authoritatively described by the Tribunal. This information is easily available to anyone with an internet connection. Finally, to state, as Vic Alborn has, that there is no mention of “partnership” or “principles” in the Treaty is, to be charitable, just simplistic, but in its effect just plain wrong.

      1. Gordon Webb says:

        Tony, partnership is quite different from co-governance and the Court recognised that in 1987.

        1. Tony Lee says:

          Thanks Gordon. As President Cooke has said: “The Treaty obligations are ongoing. They will evolve from generation to generation as conditions change.”

          In the view of council it seems like this generation is finally right for co-governance.

          1. Gordon Webb says:

            Sorry Tony but it’s the partnership obligations that may evolve, not changing one form of arrangement between parties into another.

          2. Tony Lee says:

            I’m fairly sure that my main reference was talking about Tiriti principles and Justice Cooke’s statement was used to reinforce this notion of evolving principles. The principles have evolved to now encompass co-governance (even if this wasn’t implicitly required historically to ensure tino rangatiratanga). To repeat the full statement:
            ““In the view of the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal, Treaty principles are not set in stone. They are constantly evolving as the Treaty is applied to particular issues and new situations. Neither the Courts nor the Waitangi Tribunal have produced a definitive list of Treaty principles. As President Cooke has said: “The Treaty obligations are ongoing. They will evolve from generation to generation as conditions change.”

            As a general disclaimer, I have no pretensions of having legal expertise. My primary motivation is based on secular liberal values and the view that it best to do what is right.

          3. G R Webb says:

            Somers J in the Court of Appeal case said “The principles of the Treaty must I think be the same today as they were when it was signed in 1840”.

            Cooke J only intended that the Crown should take account of Maori interests when making decisions; he did not suggest however Maori were in some way to be a co-decision-maker with the Crown.

            Co-governance was never one of those principles. The idea that Queen Victoria, ruler of the richest, militarily the most powerful, scientifically the most advanced and technologically the cleverest nation the world had ever seen, would share power with a collection of illiterate, stone-age tribes, is quite ludicrous, of course. There are also the small matters of cessation of sovereignty and that Gisborne District Council is not a party to the Treaty.

            Even if the concept of partnership can be derived out of the Treaty (there is debate whether the Judges’ statements were in the context of the particular case necessary or correct), it is a quantum leap to suggest that partnership equals co-governance.

          4. Tony Lee says:

            I think J Somers’ statement could easily tie in with my understanding that the Crown accepted kawanatanga with Maori retaining their tino rangatiratanga. Dame Anne Salmond likens this to an exchange of gifts and that this exchange is clearly expressed in the Maori version of te Tiriti – the version that has pre-eminence. Note that the preponderance of opinion (Salmond’s words) is that kawanatanga describes something less than sovereignty, more akin to governorship. I very much recommend a compelling He Tohu interview with Salmond that can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3ZpLTYipIM

            I’m not sure of your intention, but I was disturbed by some of the other comments in your most recent reply. Never mind, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being either disturbed or offended.

  9. Graham Wright, Pleasant Point (Sth Canterbury) says:

    Is it not ironic that our Minister of Foreign Affairs expresses concern at recent events in Burma whilst at the same time contemplating a similar autocratic action here at home? There may or may not be a case for Maori Wards on local councils, but it is undemocratic and divisive to entertain such a move without reference to those who pay the bills.