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On 13 May Newsroom carried a column by four writers at Victoria University under the heading “Commitments to equality in Te Tiriti mean co-governance”. In attacking those who disagree with that proposition, they particularly cited Hobson’s Pledge, for which I am one of two spokespeople.

But in arguing that Te Tiriti requires a radical departure from democratic principles in favour of co-governance what they fail to explain is why their arguments differ so fundamentally from what nearly every authority on the Treaty has believed since 1840.

They fail to note that Governor Hobson said, as each chief signed the Treaty, “now we are one” – he certainly didn’t say “Now we are two and shall remain ever thus”.

They fail to quote any of the speeches made by Maori chiefs at Waitangi before the Treaty was signed, many of them strongly opposing the Treaty because they recognized that in signing it they would be surrendering power to a higher authority.

They fail to quote any of the speeches made by Maori chiefs at Kohimarama in 1860, speeches in which chief after chief applaud the benefit of the Queen’s sovereignty.

They fail to quote iconic Maori statesmen like Sir Apirana Ngata or Sir Peter Buck who had not the slightest doubt that Te Tiriti involved the surrender of sovereignty.

They fail to acknowledge more recent translations of Te Tiriti, such as that by Professor Sir Hugh Kawharu, who translated the three Articles of the Treaty as:

1. The chiefs of the Confederation and all the Chiefs who have not joined that Confederation give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government over their land.

2. The Queen of England agrees to protect the Chiefs, the Subtribes and all the people of New Zealand in the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages and all their treasures.

3. For this agreed arrangement therefore concerning the Government of the Queen, the Queen of England will protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand (i.e. the Maori) and will give them the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England.

There was absolutely nothing in Te Tiriti about guaranteeing equal outcomes (as claimed by some of those arguing why we need a separate Maori health authority), only a strong commitment to “the same rights and duties of citizenship”.

And have Maori been able to avail themselves of these equal rights? Certainly, and especially since the advent of MMP more than 20 years ago. Two years ago, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the National Party, the Leader and Deputy Leader of New Zealand First, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, the Co-Leader of the Greens, and the Leader of the ACT Party were all Maori. In the present Government, the percentage of Maori Ministers considerably exceeds the proportion of Maori in the general population. Maori have shown themselves absolutely able to foot it with other New Zealanders in a democratic polity, where every person, irrespective of race or religion, has an equal vote.

And the co-governance alternative that the authors advocate? It is inconceivable that the 85% of New Zealanders who do not identify as Maori will willingly concede 50% of the political power to those New Zealanders who have some, often quite small, percentage of Maori heritage. Especially is this true given that nowhere in the world has such a lop-sided arrangement lasted for long.

The only way to an harmonious future is to ensure that all citizens have equal political rights, and to deal effectively with social and other problems wherever they arise, irrespective of ethnicity.

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Rather than giving “only a strong commitment to the same rights and duties of citizenship”, the treaty guaranteed Māori ”the same rights and duties of citizenship”. And therein lies the basis for equity ( not equality). It’s nothing to do with ethnicity or race, and everything to do with the agreements made in Te Tiriti.


May 14, 2022

Whilst such a thought may not be popular, given the unwillingness by some Maori leaders to accept the ToW as is, but rather to aggressively pursue an extensive wealth and power grab, it's difficult not to entertain the idea that maybe the Treaty was a bad move on the part of the British, that it went too far, allowing powerful tribal entities to continue to exist. I wonder if anything similar that has been attempted has ended up well for any nation anywhere else in the world.

Replying to

Let me see if I understand you correctly. If non Māori want everybody to move forward as one people, the wealth that iwi currently have now and in the future needs to be reduced. One of the main ways of achieving this is to cease the Crown’s financial redress of past wrongs that Māori suffered. The effect of this will be that tribal entities‘ influence would decline over time.

One problem with this is that tribal wealth may not decline e.g. Ngai Tahu has turned their $170mil settlement into $1.7bil. over the past 25 years.

Two, it seems unfair that iwi who have not had a settlement miss out while other iwi have already had their settlement payouts.

Three, do…


May 14, 2022

Well said Don, "This is Serious" and all you other contributers to this serious issue .

This government is really a dictatorship and is hell bent in stuffing NEW ZEALAND big time. Race relations are virtually out the window with all this new 3 waters, maori health authority, indoctrination etc, etc. These racist maori activists and their "do gooder" wannabe white associates are twisting the truth re the treaty and are trying to change the history of this country to suit their own means. Namely to introduce apartheid for their own gain. All NEW ZEALANDERS need to be made aware of what is being schemed up by this totally dishonest current government.


May 13, 2022

Thank You Don.

A very clearly written article which highlights the destructive, divisive false narrative that the Treaty gave "partnership" or had "principles"

The wording of the Treaty (the true Treaty as per Littlewood) is quite clear.

And for the first 140 years after the signing of it, all parties accepted the Treaty as it was written. It is only since about 1980 that revisionists and activists have been twisting the Treaty beyond anything that was intended or implied.


I apologize for the misprints in my previous comment, forgive me, please.

One more idea. Discussing co-governance people should ask those who promote it to show us the good actual results of Maori governing Maori. There are tribes, chiefs, maraes, they are free to exercise matauranga Maori, to speak Maori language, to follow their tikanga but we cannot see any improvement in women and children abuse, criminality, health, education. Pre contact Maori did not know money and they, according to what we hear, lived ideal lives. So why they do not achieve that ideal now and why they need money of all tax payers?

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