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Nanaia Mahuta reminded me of Rob Muldoon

Shortly after the 1975 election, won by the National Party, Rob Muldoon announced that New Zealanders should stop contributing to the compulsory superannuation fund which the previous Labour Government had put in place. The law still stated that contributions were compulsory. The Prime Minister didn’t care: he was planning to change the law to scrap the Labour scheme.


But what Muldoon announced was against the law until Parliament was able to change the law, and when he was taken to court on the matter he lost.


I was reminded of that last week. The Electoral Act 2002 provides that any major change in voting arrangements – such as switching from First Past the Post to Single Transferable Vote, or creating racially-based wards – can be appealed by ratepayers, so that if 5% of ratepayers demand a referendum on the change, a referendum must be held.


Nanaia Mahuta announced last Monday that she doesn’t like the ability of ratepayers to demand a referendum, and intends to change the law. In the meantime, she simply told the local authorities where ratepayers were demanding a referendum to ignore the current law.


This is outrageous behaviour. In the last few months, nine local authorities have voted to create Maori wards, and in all nine districts ratepayers have begun collecting signatures demanding a referendum. In at least four of those nine – Tauranga, Whangarei, Kaipara and Northland – substantially more than 5% of ratepayers have already signed a petition demanding a referendum. The Minister has made it clear that she intends to ram a law change through Parliament under urgency, with virtually no time for the public to have a say on the change.


This is doubly outrageous in that it is quite clear from her public statements that the Minister has wanted to change the law to prevent this exercise of public opinion since well before the last election, but there was not a whisper of this change in Labour’s election manifesto. As Herald writer Audrey Young noted on the day after the announcement, this silence was “unforgivable”.


The Minister justifies her decision to change the law by noting that local governments can establish geographic wards without fear of being challenged. She also claims to want to “increase representation for Maori in local government”.


But of course changing a geographical boundary is fundamentally different from introducing race-based wards.


And it is entirely unclear what her justification for wanting to “increase representation for Maori in local government” is.


At the moment, every law relating to local government already requires local councils to consult with iwi. There is no mention of any other racial group which must be consulted. Only Maori.


The proportion of councillors who identify as Maori has been steadily increasing in recent years, and now almost exactly matches the proportion of Maori New Zealanders in the total population – 13.5% of all councillors were Maori in 2019, while according to the 2018 census Maori New Zealanders made up 13.7% of the total population.


We know from the large proportion of Maori in Parliament – significantly exceeding the proportion of Maori in the population – that Maori are absolutely as capable of winning election as any other New Zealanders.


What about our “obligations under the Treaty?" There is nothing in the Treaty of Waitangi – in any version of it – which implies that those with a Maori ancestor should have some preferential right to election to local councils.


And of course it is worth reflecting that roughly half those who identify as Maori are not on the Maori electoral roll, and so will be unable to vote for candidates standing in a Maori ward.


No, there is not the slightest logic for New Zealand’s having a racially-based electoral system. The Minister’s decision to ride roughshod over existing law and public opinion is a major black mark against the Government.




This article was first published at NZCPR

2,585 views19 comments

19 Comments


If Muldoon was taken to court-why not the same for Mahutu ?

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ron
ron
Mar 01, 2021
Replying to

Perhaps because:

- She is one of the special people.

- The Labour party believes that it has a 'mandate' to do largely whatever it likes.

- The mainstream media are in Labour's pocket.

- Much of the country has 'awoken' to the need to fix its colonial guilt.

- National are too weak to raise anything like a credible challenge for fear of racist accusations.

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ron
ron
Feb 16, 2021

" .. joining a Maori electorate might seem a clever move it is simply perpetuating the whole racial charade .."

May be right, childish even, but the opportunity to express dissent by making a mockery of the racial charade is an offer that could be too difficult to refuse.

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roger
roger
Feb 16, 2021

Chris - Actually 1867 because Maori males did not own property individually but in common. This reason was a temporary measure and effectively disappeared when in 1893 all adult males got the vote and Maori electorates should have gone right at that moment. Interestingly Maori male adults had a better adult franchise level between 1867 and 1893 than did non-Maori male adults. The other fact not often acknowledged is that conscription in both World Wars did NOT include Maori. So all Maori who served were volunteers.

I think while joining a Maori electorate might seem a clever move it is simply perpetuating the whole racial charade.

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chris
chris
Feb 16, 2021

There should not be any Maori seats in our central government under MMP or any other voting system. The Maori seats are an anachronism from the 1880's. Remove that issue and the in prospect local government Maori wards would also disappear as there would be no requirement for a Maori roll.

Whatever happened to the "Team of 5 million? Seems more like a team of 4.5million and another group of circa 500k. They are certainly not part of the New Zealand team and seem hell bent on ensuring they dont qualify for selection in the New Zealand team..

Now I hear we have a Jihaddi ISIS terrorist and two potential terrorist siblings being deported to our shores. This madness has…

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davidweikart
davidweikart
Feb 16, 2021

Count me in.

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