Late last month the United States Supreme Court released a landmark judgement ruling that race cannot be used as a factor in considering college admissions.
If such a judgement applied to New Zealand, it would signal the end of the University sector’s targeted race-based admissions schemes. That would include Auckland University’s School of Medicine, which in 2023 reserved 103 places out of the total intake of 287 for Maori and Pacific Island students.
In his ruling, the US Chief Justice John Roberts said that for too long universities have “concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the colour of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”
The judgement states, “In view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”
A colour-blind legislature where race plays no part in national affairs, is a common feature in a range of countries including Sweden, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. They consider there is only one race - the human race - and they will not tolerate any attempt to divide citizens by their ancestry.
It is the Equal Protection Clause in the US Constitution that guarantees Americans “the equal protection of the laws.” The new ruling clarifies that measures that discriminate on the basis of race – including so-called affirmative action programmes that claim to deliver ‘equity’ through positive discrimination - are unconstitutional and unlawful.
New Zealand has a variety of provisions in our unwritten constitution that ensure equality under the law - and protection against discrimination based on race.
From the earliest of times, the Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed equality. As Governor Hobson said at the signing of the Treaty, “He iwi tahi tatou” - we are now one people.
In his 1922 book outlining the original meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, Sir Apirana Ngata explained Article 3 “states that Maori and Pakeha are equal before the Law, that is, they are to share the rights and privileges of British subjects.”
The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 codified freedom from discrimination through Section 19, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993” - where Section 21 prohibits discrimination on the basis of 13 grounds including “colour”, “race”, or “ethnic or national origins”.
However, the Bill of Rights also has a proviso which states, “Measures taken in good faith for the purpose of assisting or advancing persons or groups of persons disadvantaged because of discrimination that is unlawful… do not constitute discrimination.”
It is this affirmative action exemption based on claimed ‘unlawful discrimination’ that is now being used by the Labour Government to justify a range of new measures to divide New Zealanders by race.
Under the US Supreme Court’s ruling, such race-based affirmative action measures would be considered discriminatory: “To clarify that all forms of discrimination based on race—including so-called affirmative action—are prohibited…”
The Court explains, “Our acceptance of race-based state action has been rare for a reason. ‘Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.’ That principle cannot be overridden except in the most extraordinary case.”
It was the Herald that broke the news that Labour has introduced a new equity adjuster score into the health system to prioritise patients on hospital waiting lists by race: “Some surgeons said the new scoring tool was medically indefensible. They said patients should be prioritised on how sick they were, how urgently they needed treatment, and how long they had been waiting for it - not on their ethnicity.
“One of the surgeons said he was ‘disgusted’ by the new ranking system. ‘It’s ethically challenging to treat anyone based on race, it’s their medical condition that must establish the urgency of the treatment,’ the surgeon said. ‘There’s no place for elitism in medicine and the medical fraternity in this country is disturbed by these developments’.”
Ranking sick patients by race to determine who gets priority health treatment is not only putting New Zealand lives at risk, it is factually unjustifiable. The Ministry of Health has estimated that only 20 percent of a patient’s health outcome is determined by medical care - around 40 percent is determined by socioeconomic factors such as education and income, 10 percent by their physical environment including the quality of housing, and 30 percent by personal lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and the use of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes.
In addition, claims that systemic racism in the health system discriminate against Maori have been found to be self-serving fabrications of the truth – as numerous researchers have shown, including Medical Practitioner Dr Lawrie Knight HERE, Senior Fellow at the New Zealand Institute Dr Bryce Wilkinson HERE, and Social Policy Researcher Lindsay Mitchell HERE.
All of this leads to a simple question that needs to be resolved: Is Labour’s ideological use of racial profiling in health care illegal and in breach of the NZ Bill of Rights?
When the Herald broke the news about an equity adjuster score being used in health, the Prime Minister appeared surprised and told the country that he would ask the Health Minister “to make sure we are not replacing one form of discrimination with another.”
But what we now know is that Chris Hipkins was the Minister of Health in 2020 when the ‘equity adjuster score’ was first introduced by the Auckland DHB to prioritise urology patients on its surgical waiting list.
And while the Prime Minister has assured New Zealanders that plans for a nationwide rollout of the equity adjuster score - which is currently being used in Auckland and Middlemore Hospitals - has now been put on ice, the Herald reports that it has already been introduced into Northland.
Furthermore, despite the Prime Minister’s claims that prioritising patients by race would not become widespread, we now find out that is precisely what is happening.
Anyone phoning the Ministry of Health’s Healthline service is instructed to “Press 1” for a Maori option - or “Press 2”…
The newly announced Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Service which enables local pharmacies to treat minor ailments is only free for community service card holders – or anyone of Maori or Pacific Island descent.
And a free cervical screening programme, which will be available from September for women who hold a community services card, or who haven’t been screened within the last five years, will also be free for Maori and Pacific Islanders.
But as Social Policy Researcher Lindsay Mitchell points out, not only do Asian women also have lower rates of screening, but European women make up the largest numerical cohort of unscreened women – and she concludes: “The truth is many women put off testing due to discomfort, inconvenience or fear of cancer. The new self-tests will hopefully remove some of these barriers, but they should either be free for all or a cost for all.”
These measures that provide different levels of health care based on race are undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg.
When Labour took office just over five and a half years ago, New Zealand was egalitarian and united - a country of over 200 nationalities with a long track record of treating people equally and giving everyone a fair go. There were separatists attempting to force their radical views onto society, of course, but they were in a minority.
However, under the abysmal leadership of Jacinda Ardern, Labour adopted the extremist agenda of those radical Maori supremacists, producing He Puapua - their blueprint for tribal control - and sowing the seeds of racial division.
Chris Hipkins is also culpable for undermining social cohesion in New Zealand - not only for supporting the He Puapua rollout when he was a Cabinet Minister, but for not stopping it when he became PM.
And now that we know he’s lost control of the He Puapua agenda, its surely time New Zealanders took a stand to reject outright the division of our country by race.
It was similar action by the public in the United States, of course, that culminated in their Supreme Court’s ruling.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is former Government Minister Barry Brill, who has been analysing the US ruling, and believes it holds crucial lessons for governments around the world:
“There can be little doubt that this US Supreme Court Judgment will have a major impact in capitals and cabinets throughout the English-speaking world and beyond. Not so much for its legal principles as for its painstaking analysis of across-the-board scattergun privileges that are based on race alone and are unrelated to individual circumstances or needs.”
As Barry explains, “This is the core of the Court’s judgment – every citizen is an individual and cannot be defined by any one physical characteristic. Stereotyping and racial averaging is wrong in all circumstances, regardless of benign intentions.”
He quotes one of the judges in the case, Justice Clarence Thomas:
“The solution to our Nation’s racial problems thus cannot come from policies grounded in affirmative action or some other conception of equity. Racialism simply cannot be undone by different or more racialism. Instead, the solution is incorporated in our Constitution: that we are all equal, and should be treated equally before the law without regard to our race. Only that promise can allow us to look past our differing skin colors and identities and see each other for what we truly are: individuals with unique thoughts, perspectives, and goals, but with equal dignity and equal rights under the law.”
This is an important lesson for New Zealand.
As a society, we’ve been caught unprepared for the racial discrimination Labour is rolling out across our country. What they are doing is unacceptable in a free society founded on the democratic ideal of equality before the law.
The October election provides an opportunity for the public to collectively send a message to the politicians that we reject outright any attempts to divide us by race.
Parties embracing racial division include not only Labour, but the Greens, who are now pledging to open up private land to Treaty claims, and the Maori Party, that wants to take the country back to full tribal control.
Essentially, the only way to remove the widespread racial preferences that Labour has introduced under their He Puapua agenda, will be for Parliament to step in with legislation that ensures New Zealand is a colour-blind society where all citizens are treated equally under the law and all discrimination based on race is illegal.
The US Supreme Court judgement noted that the Constitution’s colour-blind rule - that ‘all men are created equal’ - was founded in the US Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It goes on to say, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
And it suggests what to do when Governments endanger fundamental rights: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Has the Labour Government now become destructive of our right to be treated equally in our own country? If so, is it time we, the People, instituted a new Government to restore the right for all New Zealanders to be treated as equals before the law?
This article was published at the New Zealand Centre for Political Research. Dr Muriel Newman established NZCPR as a public policy think tank in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. A former Chamber of Commerce President, her background is in business and education.