The term “co-governance” trips off ministerial tongues with ease but it’s clear most people don’t know what it means. Nanaia Mahuta would have us believe it simply means that Maori would be guaranteed some sort of undefined say in decision-making. Fair-minded Kiwis think that’s OK. When I was Minister of Local Government I urged local authorities to set up standing committees of local Maori which would be consulted on matters of special interest to Maori. Most complied. But that was nothing like enough for Maori radicals who pushed for Maori wards, and then convinced Mahuta to legislate over the top of local referenda where moves to introduce Maori wards had been voted down, usually by large margins. Now that Maori wards are mandatory for all local councils, the radicals have moved to the next stage. It isn’t enough for Maori who nearly all have majority Pakeha DNA in their bodies. They are smarting from the reality that they form only 17% of New Zealand’s population. They now want that 17% turned magically into majority status in all decision making. That’s what the current calls for “co-governance” are all about.
In effect, Mahuta and her cronies want an end to democracy and compulsory subjection of the rest of us to tribal rule. Under her innocent-sounding system Maori will “co-govern” the parallel hospital structures that come into force in the middle of this year. Maori will have their own structure PLUS veto rights over the one for the other 83% of the total population. If the comments of Rob Campbell, the new chair of the non-Maori structure are to be believed, his mission is to return health care to the days of pre-colonial times when, in his words Maori health “flourish[ed] for centuries”. If Campbell had only done a little reading, he would know that those were the days of tribal rule when Maori had a life expectancy of 30; when there was slavery in Maori society; and where as late as 1839 chiefs killed Maori slaves for feasts. The creepy thing is that this man is going to head our new health system!!
“Co-governance” is also much talked about at the local government level. At a recent meeting of the Hauraki Gulf Forum which decided to introduce “co-governance” to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and incorporate the majority of Auckland’s regional parks bought or given to the region over many decades, that pestiferous Auckland Councillor, Pippa Coom, along with another four woke councillors, voted for co-governance. Seven properly elected councillors opposed the resolution but the balance was tipped towards “co-governance” by an additional five tribally-selected iwi representatives who are accountable to nobody except the tribe that nominated them. No triennial elections for them this year. No trudging the streets or putting up signs. But they’ll get paid the same fees as the elected from ratepayer funds. In other words, Auckland Council contrived a forum structure where tribes can simply help themselves to ratepayer money and control the treasured public parkland and the islands of the Gulf. Not surprisingly, the Gulf Users Group is up in arms and is campaigning against what looks like it will be grand larceny with public funds.
A further guide about what we can expect from “co-governance” comes with a court decision this week against Auckland’s Maunga Authority. That authority, supposedly in “co-governance” with Auckland Council, now manages Auckland’s regional cones. You might remember the decision made by John Key’s government to take the cones which had been enjoyed by generations of Aucklanders and hand them over to a Maunga Authority chaired by a non-Auckland Maori, Paul Majurey. The authority promptly banned cars from the summits using specious reasoning, and in the case of Owairaka (Mt Albert) set in place plans to remove all exotic trees from the mountain, replanting it with natives. Since Maori had abandoned the Mt Albert area in the 1750s, and the mountain had been used (and abused) almost exclusively by Pakeha ever since, a band of locals set up a vigil to protect the exotic trees which had been planted by their forebears until such time as Majury’s lot had had their high-handed decision tested in court. This week the court found that the Maunga Authority was wrong to proceed with the removal of trees they didn’t like without first fully consulting the wider public. In a fit of pique, Majurey told us he intended to appeal the court decision or would seek some kind of unspecified back-door legislative amendment from Jacinda Ardern’s supine ministry.
As you can see from these examples there is nothing “co” about this kind of government. In practice, “co-governance” means tribal rule. People who aren’t elected by the wider public expect to plunder public resources to indulge whatever whim comes into their heads. And be paid fees by the rest of us for doing so.
“Co-governance” in practice is a mechanism for stealing resources that belong to all of us, irrespective of race, in order to satisfy some primeval tribal goal that rackets through the minds of the undemocratically-selected Maori partner. The message is that whenever “co-governance” is proposed, it should be met with fierce resistance. There is no desirable alternative to democracy, majority rule, unless we all want to set off down the road towards an authoritarian, unaccountable tribal world.